Nonviolent Communication

by Marshall B. Rosenberg
Life Communication Reading

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg is an essential book on for anyone hoping to make life easier and more enjoyable for himself and people around. The book is plentiful in examples and summaries making it easy to adopt suggested methods and thoughts. Overall, the tone of the book is friendly and clear. The sections flow nicely one in to another slowly building upon the knowledge learned. Some examples in the book seem to be far-fetched hurting on the credibility of the book, despite that it still holds great value and provides great insight into what empathy really means.


Four components of NVC (Non-Violent Communication)

We need to keep in mind that for MVC to work we should:

In the end, the process looks like this:

  1. the concrete actions that we observe that affect our well-being
  2. how we feel in relation to what we observe
  3. the needs, values, desires, etc. that create our feelings
  4. the concrete actions we request in order to enrich our life

Communication that blocks compassion

Observing without evaluating

Observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence

It’s easier to provide a few examples:

Identifying and expressing feelings

It’s easier to connect with one another if we can better express our feelings. For that we need larger vocabulary, good and bad won’t be enough. And we need to keep following things in mind:

Taking responsibility for our feelings

Our feelings result from how we choose to receive what others say and do. E.g. what others say and do might be the stimulus four our feelings but never the cause.

We can deepen our awareness of our own responsibility for our feelings by connecting our feelings with our needs, e.g.: “I feel …, because I need…”.

From emotional slavery to emotional liberation

Three stages:

  1. emotional slavery - we believe ourselves resonsible for feelings of others. We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy and this overwhelms us.

  2. obnoxious stage - we feel angry and no longer want to be responsible for feelings of others.

  3. emotional liberation - we respond to feelings of others out of compassion, never out of feat, guilt, or shame. We accept full responsibility for our own intentions and actions, but not for the feelings of others.

Requesting that which would enrich live

Make requests consciously

Simply expressing our feelings it might not be clear to the listener what we actually want.

Asking for reflection

Ask for reflection to make sure the message we send is the same as the message that was received.

Requesting honesty

After we express ourselves vulnerably we often want to know:

  1. What the listener is feeling (“I would like to know what you feel about what I just said”)
  2. What the listener is thinking (“I would like you to tell me whether you think that my proposal will go through”)
    • note that we again want to use concrete language instead of asking vaguely (“What do you think about that?”)
  3. Whether the listener would be willing to take particular action (“I would like to know whether you are willing to postpone the meeting”)

Making requests of a group

In groups time is waster when the speaker isn’t certain what response they want.

Requests vs. Demands

When other person hears demand from us they have two options: to submit or to rebel.

Defining objective when making requests

Our objective is a relationship based on honesty and empathy. We shouldn’t want to change other people mind. Instead, our objective should be for others to change/respond but only if they decide to.

When making request, it is helpful to scan our minds for thoughts that automatically turn requests into demands:

Receiving Empathically

Now let’s turn the things around and learn how to apply the same four-components to hearing what others are observing, feeling, needing, and requesting.

Don’t just do something, stand there


Reflect back to the other person by paraphrasing what you understand. The speaker will either confirm it or we gave him the opportunity to correct us. Another advantage of reflecting is that we offer the other party time to reflect on what they’ve just said.

Sustaining empathy

The power of empathy

Using empathy to defuse danger

Empathy to revive a lifeless conversation

Empathy for silence

Connecting compassionately with ourselves

Expressing anger fully

Conflict resolution and mediation

Protective use of force

Expressing appreciation


Title: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships
Author: Marshall Rosenberg
ISBN10: 189200528X
ISBN13: 9781892005281