Nonviolent Communication

 

What is Nonviolent Communication?
What are its applications?
Who developed the method and when?

In this article we tell you everything you need to know about Nonviolent Communication and its 4 components, and give you a list of resources and tools that you can find in our shop to start practising this exciting communication method.

Picture of two girls with their backs to each other talking with the Nonviolent Communication method at the shore of a lake.

Listening to the needs of others and expressing our own needs with sincerity: two of the foundations of the NVC method.

Communication is an essential part of human being, and learning to express ourselves properly can lead to better relationships, a more productive work environment and deeper human connections. It is precisely to achieve peer-to-peer relationships and respect for the needs and feelings of others that the structure and methodology of Nonviolent Communication, or NVC, was invented.

NVC is a way of communicating with others in an empathetic, assertive and non-judgmental way, with the aim of resolving conflicts and promoting healthy relationships.

In this article we explore the history, foundations and practice of NVC, as well as the figure of Marshall Rosenberg, creator of the method and his book (the “bible” of NVC) Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.

We will also provide extensive information about NVC, including additional essential books and extra materials to learn about this powerful communication tool. You can find these materials and resources in our online shop.

Join us as we dive into the world of NVC and discover how it can be applied to various aspects of our lives.

History of NVC

The origin of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) dates back to the mid-1960s, when psychologist Marshall Rosenberg developed the strategy and method of NVC as a way to address disputes and promote clinical dialogue.

But who was Marshall Rosenberg?

Marshall Rosenberg, creator of the NVC method

Marshall Rosenberg (1934-2015) was the American psychologist and educator who developed the Nonviolent Communication method, a process or method for promoting collaboration and communication among peers to help resolve conflicts within relationships and in society.

Photograph of psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, inventor of NVC.

Marshall Rosenberg in 2006.
Source: Centre for Nonviolent Communication

After graduating, Rosenberg began his clinical practice in Saint Louis, Missouri, forming Psychological Associates with several partners. In analysing the problems of students in school, he discovered learning problems that inspired him to write his first book, Diagnostic Teaching, in 1968.

In 1970 he moved to San Francisco, California and, rather than providing his services as a psychologist to people who could afford them, Rosenberg chose to focus on the poor, human rights activists, civil rights groups for people of colour and non-profit associations.

In Rosenberg’s own words:

“NVC as a method evolved from my practice with people who were suffering and experimenting with what I thought might be of value to them, whether it was in the girls’ correctional school or helping people labelled as schizophrenic […].”

 

“The experience I gained during my years in San Francisco gave me the exciting idea that we could start local projects to train a lot of people in these skills, quickly and without the need for money.”

After establishing himself as a renowned psychologist and gaining fame for the effectiveness of the NVC method, Rosenberg travelled the world as a peacebuilder, and in 1984 he founded the Centre for Nonviolent Communication, an international non-profit organisation of which he was director of educational services.

During the most active years of his career, he travelled to an average of 35 countries a year as a trainer and mediator in all kinds of conflicts, advising institutions, associations and government administrations. He died in Albuquerque (USA) in 2015.

His work has been very positively received all over the world, being used in various sectors such as education, mediation, social reintegration, conflict resolution and psychology.

Rosenberg’s landmark book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, has become a reference in the field of communication and conflict resolution, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. It offers methods for communicating in an assertive, compassionate and non-judgmental way, and highlights the importance of recognising our own feelings, the feelings of others, and the needs that lie behind them, whether met or unmet.

This work is a significant breakthrough in the field of verbal exchanges and reconciliation, and has been instrumental in helping people improve their relationships and reach a state of harmony.

Marshall Rosernberg at an NVC event in 1992

Marshall Rosenberg during an NVC meeting in 1990.
Source: WikiMedia Commons

What is special about the Nonviolent Communication method?

Over time, NVC has become a popular approach that has proven to be very effective in resolving disagreements and interacting assertively.

It has been applied in a variety of settings, such as:

  • companies and at the corporate level
  • schools
  • personal relationships
  • social reintegration services
  • marriage therapies
  • childhood

As the popularity of NVC has grown, so has the availability of resources, books, games and materials for learning and practising the methodology.

Our website simple.cat aims to be a compilation of all the materials that exist for studying, practising and teaching NVC.
Our catalogue is available to professionals who need them for their work and also for people who want to learn more about themselves.

A key element of NVC is the notion that everyone possesses the capacity for empathy and benevolence. Rosenberg believed that it is possible to relate to others and understand their points of view, even in times of great disagreement. This premise was central to the formulation of NVC, as it emphasises the importance of listening and understanding in communication. In addition, the method stresses the importance of recognising and attending to one’s own emotions and desires, as well as those of others. In doing so, people can strive to build healthy relationships based on common understanding and empathy.

Foundations and practices of NVC

The pillars of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) are based on the concept that all human beings have the same essential needs, and that conflict arises when these needs are not met. By recognising and empathising with our own and others’ needs, we can learn to communicate more productively and resolve conflicts nonviolently.

The foundations of NVC are based on principles and maxims such as the following:

  • Adopting NVC requires dedication to nonviolence, understanding and individual responsibility.
  • Practising NVC means taking responsibility for one’s own feelings and actions, and refraining from accusing or judging others.
  • It also means proactively seeking to understand and empathise with the views of others, even when we disagree with them.
  • NVC is not a quick fix or a set of rules to follow, but a way of approaching communication and relationships that requires practice and perseverance.

By adhering to the fundamentals and practices of NVC, we can shape a more harmonious and compassionate world one dialogue at a time.

The four components of NVC

The four component of NonViolent Communication and how do we understand each of them:

O – Observation

Observation consists of describing a situation or circumstance that we see or experience objectively, as if recorded by a camera.

Observation during NVC

F – Feeling

Feeling consists of expressing what we feel or how the situation we observe or experience makes us feel.

Feelings during NVC

N – Needs

Need involves recognising the fundamental need(s) or craving that drives our emotional reaction.

Needs during NVC

R – Request

The Request is making a concrete call for what we would like to happen based on the feelings and needs we have.

Requests during NVC

By using these components we can communicate more effectively and build stronger and healthier relationships.

How to use the four components of NVC?

To be effective in interpersonal relationships, it is essential to understand the four components of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) discussed above:

  • First, it is important to observe the situation objectively, without judgement or prejudice, and to take note of what is happening and why it is happening.
  • Secondly, we try to learn to express our feelings, values and needs in a sincere, clear, honest and authentic way.
  • Thirdly, we seek to show empathy, listen with understanding, and try to get the other party’s point of view, recognising that they also have their feelings and values.
  • Finally, we need to make clear, affirmative, achievable and actionable requests that take into account the interests of both parties.

Using these four components, we can foster better communication, create stronger connections and resolve disputes or disagreements constructively.

Research and studies on the effectiveness of CNV

There are quite a number of studies and research papers on CNV (more than 700 have been published).

Two studies on the effectiveness of NVC are worth highlighting, namely the following:

Benefits of NVC in business environments

Researchers Jane Marantz Connor and Robert Wentworth in 2012 examined the effect of 6 months of NVC training and practice on 23 senior executives of a large Fortune 100 company.

A number of benefits were identified, including:

  • Improved self-esteem.
  • Conversations and meetings were noticeably more effective.
  • Problems were solved in 50-80% less time.

You can take a look at the research here:

nvc-global.net (PDF file)

Benefits of NVC for inmates and prisons

In 2014 researcher Alejandra Suarez and 5 other practitioners examined the effects of combined NVC and mindfulness training on 885 male inmates at Monroe Prison in Washington (USA). The researchers found that:

  • NVC and mindfulness training reduced recidivism from 37% to 21%.
  • The therapy was estimated to have saved the state $5 million a year in reduced incarceration costs.
  • Training in NVC increased equanimity within the prison, decreased anger and gave prisoners the ability to take responsibility for their own feelings, express empathy and make requests without making demands.

You can take a look at this study here:聽https://journals.sagepub.com/

Books, games and resources for practising Nonviolent Communication

Given the great effectiveness and the multitude of fields in which Nonviolent Communication can be applied, a multitude of resources of all kinds have emerged, oriented to different fields, from education to reintegration, through NVC methods oriented to children or work environments. Let’s take a look at some of these resources, some of which you can find in our shop.

Free PDF on NVC (Spanish language)

If you are interested in exploring Nonviolent Communication (NVC), the good news is that you can find lots of free materials online that allow you to start practising Nonviolent Communication.

For example, on our website you have a free online resource in the form of a PDF: a Brief Guide to NVC (it’s in Spanish).

This short 5-page guide provides an overview of NVC, including its origins, principles and real-world applications. In addition, it includes examples to help you apply NVC to your own life.

It also includes lists of feelings and needs.

You can download the PDF by clicking the button below:

PDF Brief Introductory Guide to NVC

Nonviolent Communication:
A Language of Life

Marshall Rosenberg’s book

Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (spanish) is THE essential and basic GUIDE to mastering the art of effective communication.

This book provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the NVC method, giving them the tools and techniques to apply it to various aspects of life. Structured in a way that is easy to read, it is accessible to anyone who wishes to improve their interpersonal skills and create more harmonious relationships.

As this book is the description of the method designed by Marshall Rosenberg and written by him, it is therefore also the basis for all the other books, methods and specialised resources that have been designed around NVC afterwards (NVC for children, business environment, social reintegration…).

In other words: if you want to immerse yourself in NVC, this is the ideal book to start with.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life is highly recommended for anyone who wants to develop their communication skills, their ability to express themselves assertively and learn to be more empathetic with others, building more meaningful and rewarding connections.

It has been translated into over 30 languages and is widely used by individuals, professionals, businesses, organisations and communities around the world.

Other essential books on NVC

Marshall Rosenberg’s book is the basis of the Nonviolent Communication method, but this does not mean that it is the only option. Given the great effectiveness of the method, dozens of other books have been developed and written, which you can also find in our online shop. 5 other outstanding books on Nonviolent Communication are:

Fundamentos y pr谩cticas de Comunicaci贸n No Violenta

The first practical manual on Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in Spanish, written by the renowned psychologist Pilar de la Torre.

Cover of the book Fundamentos y pr谩cticas de cnv

Introducci贸n a la Comunicaci贸n NoViolenta

Practical guide with examples and exercises to practice, integrate and understand the NVC method. Written by Jos茅 Gerardo S谩nchez Lozano.

Resolver los conflictos con la CNV

German journalist Gabriele Seils interviewed Marshall Rosenberg on many occasions. Perfect book to go deeper into NVC.

Cover of the book Resolving Conflicts with Nonviolent Communication.

Lenguaje Jirafa

Book based on proposals for teachers to work on various aspects of NVC in the classroom.

Cover of the book Lenguaje Jirafa

La coraz贸n

Through concepts, drawings and stories, we can learn to live in harmony with ourselves and our environment.

Cover of the book La Coraz贸n

Additional materials

Additional materials for learning NVC

Although there are many books on NVC, you can practice the method through other resources, such as games.

Here are some extra resources including simple.cat materials so that you can start practising NVC from a different point of view.

“konekta” collection developed by simple.cat

The “konekta” collection is a series of products developed by us that will help you practice NVC concepts in a visual and fun way through cards and other similar games.

NVC can also be learnt by playing!

konekta with cards (Spanish)

The game “konekta with cards” helps you to practice NVC through games. There are two decks of 54 cards (feelings and needs).

See

konekta FACIL (Spanish)

The game “konekta FACIL” is similar to the game Konekta with Cards with the difference that the cards contain illustrations to make it easier to understand.

See

konekta with magnets (spanish)

Through the philosophy of “konekta” we have designed聽 magnetic version to place on magnetic boards or on the fridge. 8 games included!

See

Nonviolent Communication for Children

Stories can be a powerful way to introduce young children to the principles of Nonviolent Communication.

Through the characters in a story, children can learn about the four components of NVC and relate them to their experiences.

Kira the giraffe and the diamonds of anger (spanish)

Kira the giraffe helps to resolve the daily conflicts that arise between Gorka and Naia, father and daughter.

Empathy for children and for mum and dad (spanish)

A guide with beautiful illustrations to talk about our feelings and learn to practise empathy.

Nanuk the bear in the forest of emotions (spanish)

Lovely book for children to learn about the most common emotions through Nanuk, a cute polar bear.

Frequently Asked Questions about Nonviolent Communication

Here are some frequently asked questions about Nonviolent Communication (NVC) that we often receive and/or answer through our contact channels.

Why do we write Nonviolent Communication all together?

Nonviolence is a concept based on Gandhi’s Ahimsa (understood as “do no harm”). As there is no word for this concept in Western culture, it was given the name Non Violence.

At the same time, this new expression did not quite fit with the “positive” nature of Ahimsa, and seemed to be a negation of violence.

That is why “Nonviolence” started to be written in one word, to indicate that we are talking about the same concept as Gandhi and that it is an active nonviolence and not simply a resistance to violence.

Hence, many people in the culture of peace world choose to write Nonviolence in one word (and Nonviolent Communication in two).