Nonviolent communication

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What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart.
Marshall Rosenberg “Nonviolent Communication”

Emotional blackmail

Once I told one guy that I wanted to break up with him, and he threatened to commit suicide. Surprisingly, my reaction was complete inner peace, and for the first time, I had an invisible division: were is who, where is whose choice, where is whose responsibility. In this strange situation, for the first time in my life, my state was the way I would like to see it always. But life is turbulent, we are complex creatures, energy synthesis with others makes us beautiful or ugly, but it’s just a labels for the definition of processes which we understand little.
That state of clear demarcation where is whose is my golden standard in a stressful situation, in those moments when I they advise to stop and breathe. And then switch from a reactive state to a productive one, identify feelings and needs, your own and the other person’s, and work on mutual understanding. This is the beginning of nonviolent communication, and, in fact, a stressful situation doesn’t have to be a trigger to start working on it.


One day I was able to name my religion: the religion of need. And I had no idea that someone, as always, had already written a whole book about it. Contrary to the usual mode of communication-for-understanding – the search for compromises, Marshall Rosenberg proposed to identify needs and meet them: if in the first case each party sacrifices something, in the second one each party is satisfied. To do this, you must take responsibility for your own feelings, thoughts, words, and actions, speak honestly, and receive information with empathy.

Throughout the book, Rosenberg almost doesn’t use the words “violence” or “violent,” but life-alienating, as opposed to life-enriching. How to get out of a conversation richer, not poorer?) How to end a dead conversation, or pour some life into it?

In Rosenberg’s dialogue, the concept of agree/disagree, judge/label change to observe without evaluation, empathize, express feelings, find the root of the feeling – the need, to fullfill it, and help others to do the same.

“The following are some of the basic human needs we all share:

Nonviolent communication means seeing the need behind emotions.

Violent communication vs nonviolent communication

Our repertoire of words for calling people names is often larger than our vocabulary of words to clearly describe our emotional states.

Marshall Rosenberg “Nonviolent Communication”

Wait, but what is violent communication? Blaming, accusing, embarrassing, comparing, extorting, condemning – this is how most of us build a dialogue, and Rosenberg doesn’t judge us for it, because it’s a part of our culture and the way most of us were educated (“we learn early to cut ourselves off from what’s going on within ourselves.”), but calls us to liberate ourselves from cultural conditioning, to learn to listen to feelings and needs, and, as a result, to stop seeing monsters in people.

Judgement and anger

Classifying and judging people promotes violence.

Marshall Rosenberg “Nonviolent Communication”

When our needs are not met, we are taught to think that something is wrong with others. However, others can only be a stimulus to our emotions, but not their cause. There is always some unsatisfied need of our own behind our condemnation, anger, or analysis of others. By mixing our observations and the assessments of others, we reduce the likelihood of being heard, because the other person is likely to hear criticism and oppose. Similarly, it’s difficult for people to hear our pain after the accusation, because they are concentrating on their own fault.

I strongly believe that to whatever degree I support the consciousness that there is such a thing as a “careless action” or a “conscientious action,” a “greedy person” or a “moral person,” I am contributing to violence on this planet.

How to express anger:

  1. Pause.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Identify your judgement (no matter towards yourself or others).
  4. Connect with your needs.
  5. Express your feelings and unmet needs.


I’ve learned that I enjoy human beings more if I don’t hear what they think.

Marshall Rosenberg “Nonviolent Communication”

Since there is a real reason for all the words, the method involves listening to observations, feelings, needs, and requests, rather than the chaos of thoughts. Empathy has little to do with one’s own emotions, as I perceived it before, but more with co-living the experience of others, that is, empathy is more conscious than emotional: to be and to hear, giving the opportunity to fully express oneself before seeking solutions and satisfying requests.

However, who is thirsty for empathy cannot offer it to others.

We need empathy to give empathy. When we sense ourselves being defensive or unable to empathize, we need to (1) stop, breathe, give ourselves empathy; (2) scream nonviolently; or (3) take time out.

Scheme of actions

  1. Express your own needs.
  2. Find another person’s real needs.
  3. Make sure you find the true need.
  4. Empathize as long as necessary to hear each other’s needs.
  5. Offer strategies for resolving the conflict.

The scheme may look different depending on the situation, but the formula is always about the same: observation-feeling-need-request.

Whatever the situation may be, resolving conflicts involves all the principles I outlined previously in this book: observing, identifying and expressing feelings, connecting feelings with needs, and making doable requests of another person using clear, concrete, positive action language.

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