Nonviolent Communication – Speaking with Kindness


Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg that focuses on empathic listening and honest self-expression. It aims to create mutual understanding and connection while resolving conflicts peacefully.


NVC can be applied in various contexts, including personal relationships, workplaces, educational settings, and conflict resolution scenarios. It promotes effective communication, empathy, and compassion, leading to improved relationships and conflict resolution. This model of communication can help us connect with others in a way that brings out the best in us and them.


The Nonviolent Communication (NVC) model is based on the principle of 'Ahimsa' or non-harm, which was central to Gandhi's philosophy. Aggressive or violent communication can involve threats, judgments, dehumanization, blame, or coercion towards others in an attempt to impose one's will or desires in a given situation. In contrast, NVC encourages individuals to express themselves honestly while empathizing with others' perspectives. It emphasizes taking responsibility for one's feelings and needs, rather than blaming or criticizing others. By focusing on mutual understanding and compassion, NVC can help resolve conflicts and strengthen relationships. It's a form of consciousness that works from the inside out, fostering transformation and promoting peace. The approach involves four key steps:
  1. Observation: This involves identifying and articulating what is happening in a situation that is either enriching our lives or not. It's about observing without judgment or evaluation.
  2. Feeling: This step involves acknowledging our emotions related to what we have observed. It's about being honest with ourselves and others about how we feel.
  3. Needing: Here, we identify our needs or values that are connected to the feelings we have acknowledged. These needs are universal and shared by all humans.
  4. Requesting: Finally, we make a clear, concrete request for action to meet the identified need. This is done in a way that respects both our own needs and those of others.

Sample Activity

Here's a simple activity to practice Nonviolent Communication (NVC):
  1. Identify a Conflict Situation: Think of a recent conflict or misunderstanding you had with someone. It could be a friend, family member, coworker, or even a stranger. 
  2. Use the NVC Model:
  • Observation: Write down what happened in the situation, just the facts without any judgment or interpretation. For example, instead of saying "You were rude at the meeting," say "You interrupted me three times during the meeting."
  • Feeling: Identify how you felt when this happened. Remember, these should be your feelings, not thoughts disguised as feelings. For example, instead of saying "I feel like you don't respect me," say "I felt hurt and frustrated."
  • Needing: Determine what need of yours was not met in this situation. This could be a need for respect, understanding, support, etc. For example, "I need to feel heard and respected during our discussions."
  • Requesting: Finally, think of a specific, doable request you can make to the other person that would help meet your need in future similar situations. For example, "Could you please let me finish my points before sharing your thoughts in our future meetings?"
  1. Role-play the Conversation: Pair-up with another person to role-play the conversation. They can provide feedback and help you refine your communication.
Remember, the goal of NVC is not to get our way, but to foster mutual respect and understanding. It's about creating a quality of connection that allows everyone's needs to be met.


Marshall B. Rosenberg, "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life"

Target Audience:

  • Individuals
  • Educators
  • Counselors
  • Mediators
  • Conflict resolution professionals

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