Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote,
Hemning Sternberg
moonshadow

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

Title: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Author: Marshall Rosenberg
Series: There is not a series as such, but Rosenberg has written several books on this topic.
Genre: Self-help, nonfiction.
Reason for Reading: My friend Rock recommended the NVC process to me when I described to her some difficult interpersonal conflicts I had been having. When I started using this process I found it so amazingly helpful that I wanted to read the whole book.
Finished In: Months, because there is a LOT to think about here. I would read a few pages and need to stop and integrate.
Pages: 222, including a list of further NVC titles at the end.
Copyright Date: This is the second edition, copyright 2003. The first edition came out in 1999, although apparently Rosenberg developed the process in the 60's and 70's.
Cover: Lots of blue-greens featuring a daisy with a globe at its heart.
First line: "Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a way of interacting that facilitates the flow of communication needed to exchange information and resolve differences peacefully." That's from the blurb just inside the front cover.
Themes: Compassion, communication, labeling, judging, feelings, needs.
Best part: The system is, in my opinion, totally revolutionary - particularly in terms of separating what you (and other people) feel, observe, and need from what you THINK.
Worst part: There are two, actually, in my opinion. The first is the chapter on anger, which I didn't agree with or find convincing. The second is the interspersed poems and songs, many of which were written by Rosenberg, and I did not like them at all. I felt they were trite.
Imaginary Theme Song: Anything by Ruth Bebermeyer, who is often quoted in the book and apparently is a friend of Rosenberg's.
Grade: A-. This book is a total life-changer for me but I have to admit that it has some flaws.
Recommended for: Anyone who has difficulty communicating with other humans, or feels their communication skills have room for improvement, and frankly, who doesn't?
Related Reads: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. They're not about exactly the same topic but both similarly changed the way I think about interacting with other people.

The best way I can think of to summarize the book is to explain and demonstrate the process in my own words. NVC has two parts - communicating honestly and receiving empathically. In both cases, we look for four parts.

Observation - What you or the other person is noticing, concrete and specific things that we can agree are objectively true.
Feelings - How you or the other person is feeling about these facts. There is an emphasis on owning your feelings, not making events or people responsible for them.
Needs - The underlying source of the feelings you, or the other person, is having.
Request - What you, or what they, are asking for to enrich life.

Here is my example of a piece of communication using the process:

I have observed that since I learned this process, the people I talk to thank me more often for listening to them.(O) I have also observed that we more often are able to keep our tempers during difficult conversations when I use this process. (O) When I think about this, I feel really grateful to Marshall Rosenberg for creating this process,(F) because I needed to learn some techniques that allow me to better express my understanding that other people are not responsible for my feelings.(N) I request that everyone who is reading this blog post seriously consider reading this book.(R) I also request that if this description of the process is helpful to you, or if you find the book helpful, that you leave a comment so I can know we're in this together.

When you are using this process, when you give a communication you are trying to make sure to use and differentiate all of those parts. When you receive a communication, you try to make sure you know what the other person is observing, feeling, needing, and requesting. You do not have to use those specific words or any words at all. You also reflect back to them what you believe they have said using the four components(and it is amazing to me how helpful this technique is, particularly in helping the original speaker understand more about their perspective).
Tags: books 2001, grade a, nonfiction
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