Nonviolent Communication FAQ’s

What is Nonviolent Communication?

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a way of communicating that allows us to stay connected to compassion and speak and act in a way that is in alignment with our desire to hold others with consideration and contribute to their well-being.

It involves a four step process created by Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC).

What is the Four Step Process?

The first step in NVC involves stating an observation with out making an evaluation (moralistic judgment, label, diagnosis, etc.). Example: “I notice (see, hear, etc.)…”

The second step involves sharing your feelings with out mixing in thoughts. Example: “I feel…”

The third step involves sharing your needs by accepting responsibility for your feelings. Example: “…because I need ___________”

The fourth step involves making a specific request that will meet your need. Example: “Would you be willing to…?

Listening to Others
When listening to others we also use four steps in NVC. This can be done by making an observation of what might be stimulating an unpleasant feeling in the person (step one). But many times the observation can be dropped and we can just simply ask the questions, “Are you feeling frustrated because you need cooperation?” (Steps two and three)

Then a suggestion can be made to try to meet the need. (Step four) This may sound like, “How about we work together to put the dishes away after dinner?”

Why is Nonviolent Communication Called Giraffe Language?

Some people refer to Nonviolent Communication as giraffe language. The giraffe has the second largest heart of all the land mammals. A giraffe’s heart is about 3 feet long and weighs about 24 pounds. NVC, or giraffe language, focuses on expressing what is in the heart (feelings and needs) and hearing what is in the heart of another. For this reason it is also known as the “Language of the Heart.” The idea is that by staying in touch with what is in the hear we are able to stay connected to that which serves life.

Who is Marshall Rosenberg?

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder and director of educational services for the Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC)an international peacemaking organization. He founded the NVC process in the 1960’s. Nonviolent communication is now used all over the world.

Rosenberg, who was the 2006 recipient of the Global Village Foundations’ Bridge of Peace Award and has traveled all over the world helping others resolve conflicts, has written the book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. He studied with Carl Rogers and often cites to works of Walter Wink and Raine Eisler.

He is married to Valentina Rosenberg and continues to conduct international intensive trainings on Nonviolent Communication.

What Influenced Nonviolent Communication?

Rosenberg and Inbal Kashtan have both at times said that Nonviolent Communication has been inspired in part by the work of Mahatma Gandhi.  The word “nonviolent” in Hindu is “ahisma” which implies open-heartedness.  The idea is that people have the capacity to open their hearts to be able to see every person’s humanity.  If one can see the humanity of the person they see no enemy images.

The CNVC site states, “Nonviolent Communication contains nothing new.  It is based on historical principles of nonviolence — the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.  NVC reminds us what we already instinctively know about how good it feels to authentically connect to another human being.

“With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others.  Through its emphasis on deep listening- to ourselves as well as others – NVC helps us discover the dept of our own compassion.  This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute of every day.”

Interview with Marshall Rosenberg