NVC-Related Articles

Submitted by Sara Luig, volunteer at the Joy Living and Learning Centre

Sat, Oct 1/11 ~ It’s Not About the Food – Simple Steps to Eat by Choice ~ by Jan Henrikson

“I’m so fat, I can’t stand it anymore. Why am I eating this bag of chips? Help! I’m hopeless.” Sounds a little harsh? It is! But according to Sylvia Haskvitz, M.A, R.D, and author of Eat by Choice, Not by Habit, there is a way out.

Paying compassionate attention to the way you speak to yourself is the first step in creating a lasting, joyful relationship with your body and the food in your life.

Say you’re stressed out. All you can think about is chocolate. “I need it!” you tell yourself and you’re about to dive into another [pack of chocolate biscuits]. In that moment, Haskvitz suggests you to pause for a moment and give yourself what the NVC process refers to as self-empathy.

Give yourself a chance to listen. What comes up? “I have to have it! I’m out of control. It doesn’t matter anyway. I have no will power.”

Now, go deeper. What lays underneath? Are you anxious about work? Lonely because your friend moved away? Overwhelmed about a [break-up]?

It turns out that chocolate may feel like a desperate need, but it is actually a strategy to meet another need. If you give yourself the chance to check in, you may find out what your real need is. Reassurance? Nurturing? Fun?

So, if you’re ready to befriend your body and the way you eat, instead of fearing it:

· Pause and apply compassion.
· Eavesdrop. What comes up? Craving for chips? Guilty conscience about the chocolate in your hands?
· Tune deeper into your feelings. Are you bored watching TV? Exhausted of your work? Anxious about an exam?
· What do you really need? Is it food? Or is it adventure? Rest? Encouragement?
· How can you meet your needs? Go hiking with a friend? Sleep? Call your friend?

Finally, celebrate. Each conscious choice, no matter how small, is a step toward more aliveness. One bite at a time.

Click here for full article.

Sat, Sept 3/11 ~ Ten Things You Can Do Today to Transform Conflict in Your Life ~ by Gary Baran

It can be challenging to live the values of Compassion (or Nonviolent Communication) every day — after all, it’s often been equated to learning a whole new language. Each day, we’re all juggling multiple responsibilities, stresses and things to do — and sometimes the thought of also shifting away from our old communication habits can be an overwhelming task. Yet the beauty of Nonviolent Communication is that even simple steps can make a world of difference. Here are 10 simple things you can do today that will help you prevent or transform the conflict in your life and inspire you to live the values of compassion even in trying moments.

1. Spend some time each day quietly reflecting on how you would like to relate to yourself and others.

2. Remember that all human beings have the same needs.

3. Check your intention to see if you are as interested in others getting their needs met as your own.

4. When asking someone to do something, check first to see if you are making a request or a demand.

5. Instead of saying what you DON’T want someone to do, say what you DO want the person to do.

6. Instead of saying what you want someone to BE, say what action you’d like the person to take that you hope will help the
person be that way.

7. Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone’s opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.

8. Instead of saying “No,” say what need of yours prevents you from saying “Yes.”

9. If you are feeling upset, think about what need of yours is not being met, and what you could do to meet it, instead of
thinking about what’s wrong with others or yourself.

10. Instead of praising someone who did something you like, express your gratitude by telling the person what need of yours that action met.

Click here for link to article.

Sat, Aug 6/11 ~ Couples in Conflict: 4 Steps to More Compassionate Relationships ~ by Ron Gibbs

She: “You never listen to me!”
He: “Yes, I do!”

Power struggles, miscommunication, judgment, blame – isn’t this the stuff relationships are made of? Not according to Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a process founded by Marshall Rosenberg and taught worldwide, whereby compassionate connection is restored between couples through the use of some simple communication techniques.

If you and your partner are experiencing conflict, here are four key components of the NVC process to help put your relationship back on track:

Example: Thomas has been away all day. When he gets home, he walks into the living room, plops down on the couch, barely notices Beth, and turns on the TV. Beth is furious. Why is he so rude? Can’t he at least say hello? She hates being ignored.

1. Observations—Pretend a video camera is recording an action, and report what that action is without judging or blaming.

When Thomas walked into the room, and didn’t speak to Beth, instead of saying, “You’re so rude! What’s wrong with you?” which would be a judgment about Thomas’ behavior, using the NVC model, Beth would first say, “When you walked in the room, I didn’t hear you say hello to me.” This would be a simple observation that anyone could agree with.

2. Feelings—Identify and express what you’re feeling.

People confuse feelings with thoughts. “When someone says, “I feel like,” or “I feel that,” what follows is a thought, not a feeling. Anger, hurt, fear, and love* are examples of feelings. Beth might say, “When you walked in, I didn’t hear you say hello. I feel hurt.”

3. Needs—Express the need that you have that is not being met.

Our needs include our core values and deepest longings – what is most alive in us – such as our need for support, intimacy, respect, or acknowledgment. Beth might say, “When you walked in, I didn’t hear you say hello. I feel hurt because my need for recognition wasn’t met.”

4. Requests—State a request of your partner to help you meet your unmet need that is positive, specific and doable. Beth might say, “When you walked in, I didn’t hear you say hello. I am hurting because my need for recognition wasn’t met. Next time, would you say hello and ask me how my day went before turning on the TV?”

Note the difference between a request and a demand. If your partner chooses not to fulfill your request and you punish him, it wasn’t a request, it was a demand. While it’s inevitable that conflict is going to arise whenever you put your heart on the line, use these simple communication techniques, and you’ll begin to bring your relationship to calmer ground.

Click here for full article.

Sat, July 2/11 ~ NVC and Conflict Resolution – Rosenberg’s work with Muslims and Christians in Nigeria (excerpts) ~ by Sarah van Gelder, Marshall B. Rosenberg and Michael Mendizza

Our training in Nonviolent Communication helps participates gain skill in expressing two things: (1) what’s alive in you right now, and (2) what would make life more wonderful. You learn how to say just that without any criticism or demand. Just say what’s alive in you, how you are in other words, and what would make life wonderful. And no matter what other people say, hear only what’s alive in them and what would make life wonderful.

But instead of speaking a language of life, or a language of feelings and needs, most people have been taught a language of criticism, moralistic judgments, analysis and diagnoses. Most people have been trained to say to other people, “the problem with you is…,” and they have a wide vocabulary for telling people what’s wrong with them. Any language that sounds to other people like a criticism, we suggest is a tragic way of expressing that your needs aren’t getting met.


Once, I was asked to work in a village in Nigeria where a quarter of the population had been killed in conflicts between Muslims and Christians that year. I’m in a room with the chiefs of both tribes; my friend had told me earlier there would be at least three people in that room who knew that somebody who killed their child was there with them.

So, what do I do? I try to get people’s attention focused on those two areas: “How are you? What would make life more wonderful for you?”

One of the key ingredients is to find out what their needs are that aren’t getting met. So I asked both sides, “What are your needs?” And a chief from one of the tribes looks at the other and says, “You people are murderers!” And the other side immediately jumps up and says, “You people have been trying to dominate us for years!”

I believe that this analysis implying wrongness creates violence. In a case like this one, I try to hear how the person is behind their talk. I hear the need that’s being expressed, and then I help the other side hear that. Then I keep that flow going back and forth. No matter how they communicate, I translate it into how they are and help each side connect compassionately at that level. Within about two hours, one of the chiefs said, “If we knew how to do this ourselves, we wouldn’t have to kill each other.”

For full articles, visit:

  • www.yesmagazine.org/issues/rx-for-the-earth/837
  • www.nonviolentcommunication.com/freeresources/article_archive/michael_mendizza_mbr.htm
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    Sat, June 4/11 ~ Restorative Circles and Parenting – 3 Steps to Transform Sibling Conflicts into Camaraderie ~ by Elaine Shpungin

    My two kids, now ages 3 and 8, seem to have lots of minor conflicts. They argue about the seating arrangement for dinner, who gets to sit next to which parent and over toys and markers (“I was using that first!”).

    In handling these disputes, no method has been as effective and satisfying to me (or to them!) as the method described below. It’s adopted from Dominic Barter’s Restorative Circles model.

    Take a deep breath and interrupt the dispute as early as possible, if you believe it is escalating.

    Let the children take turns, sharing something they want the other child to know. The other child REFLECTS their understanding of the message.

    Your tools for this phase:
    *”What do you want X to know?” “What do you hear Y saying?” “Is that it?”*

    Then, same questions with previous speaker listening and previous listener speaking.

    Once both children have said they feel understood, you get THEM to problem solve.

    Your tools for this phase:
    “Does anyone have any ideas for how to solve this issue?” “Does that work for you?” *

    What I love about the micro-circle method:
    (a) it is fast and immediate (usually 6-10 minutes)
    (b) it does not require me to be understanding (in that moment)
    (c) it is empowering for the kids (they create their own solutions)
    (d) it restores harmony between the kids

    Rachel: “Mom! Aaron and Kaleb won’t let me play with them!”
    Me: “Rachel,what do you want your brother to know?”
    Rachel: “I want to play with you guys!!”
    Me: “Aaron, what do you hear your sister saying?”
    Aaron, annoyed: “She wants to play with us. But…”
    Me, gently: “Hold on. Rachel, is that it?”
    Rachel: “Yes!” [this completes one round – now we go to other child]

    Me: “Ok, Aaron, what do you want your sister to know?”
    Aaron: “I don’t want her to play with us right now. Zach and I did not play by ourselves all day. I just want some time with him.”
    Me: “Rachel, what do you hear your brother saying?”
    Rachel, unhappy: “He wants to play with Zach alone.”
    Me: “Aaron, is that it?”
    Aaron: “Yes.” [this completes round 2 – now we go to first child]

    Me: “Rachel, is there anything else you want your brother to know?”
    Rachel: “No.”
    Me: “Aaron, is there anything else you want Rachel to know?”
    Aaron: “No.” [this completes Mutual Understanding. Now go to Action Plan.]

    Me: “Ok, Thank you. Does anyone have any ideas for how to solve this issue?”
    Rachel: “NO.”
    Aaron: “Well, she can play with us if she doesn’t ask any questions about what we’re doing.”
    Me: “Rachel, does that work for you?”
    Rachel, satisfied: “Yes.”
    Me: “Ok. Thank you guys.”

    The 3 kids proceed to play successfully together for an hour. Aaron later reported that it worked out “ok” and that Rachel only asked one small question.

    Click here for full article.

    Sat, April 30/11 ~ NVC in Meaningful Conversations ~ by Marshall Rosenberg

    In our training in Nonviolent Communication we basically ask people to answer the question that we ask all over the world: “How are you?”

    Of course, “How are you?” has become ritualized in many cultures, but it’s a profoundly important question, because living in harmony with our nature – which I think is compassion – requires being able to stay connected to one another. So, our training involves nakedly and vulnerably revealing at any given moment how you are.

    The next step is to talk about what could be done to make life even more wonderful. In my work, I find that if people would just keep their communication focused at that level – “How are you? What would make your life more wonderful?” – this natural compassion flows.

    Once, I was sitting around with a group of teachers who were all talking about what they did on vacation. Within ten minutes, my energy had dropped very low; I had no idea what people were feeling or wanting.

    After listening awhile to the teachers, I screwed up my courage and said, “Excuse me, I’m impatient with the conversation because I’m not feeling as connected with you as I’d like to be. It would help me to know if you’re enjoying the conversation.” All nine people stopped talking and looked at me as if I had thrown a rat in the punch bowl.

    For about two minutes, I thought I’d die, but then I remembered to look at the feelings and needs being expressed through the silence. I said, “I guess you’re all angry with me, and you would have liked for me to have kept out of the conversation.”

    The moment I turned my attention to what they were feeling and needing, I removed their power to demoralize me.

    However, the first person who spoke told me, “No, I’m not angry. I was just thinking about what you were saying. I was bored with this conversation.” And he had been doing most of the talking! But this doesn’t surprise me. I have found that if I am bored, the person doing the talking is probably equally bored, which usually means we’re not talking from life; we’re acting out some socially-learned habits.

    Each one of the nine people then expressed the same feelings I had – impatience, discouragement, lifelessness, inertia. Then one of the women asked, “Marshall, why do we do this? Why do we sit around and bore each other? We get together every week and do this!”

    I said, “Because we probably haven’t learned to take the risk that I just did, which is to pay attention to our vitality. Are we really getting what we want from life? Each moment is precious, so when our vitality is down, let’s do something about it and wake up.”

    Click here for full article.