Non Violent Communication

Non Violent Communication

book cover recommend book⇒Nonviolent Communication: a language of Compassionto book home
by Marshall B. Rosenberg 978-1-892005-02-1 paperback
birth 1934-10-06 age:81
publisher Puddledancer
published 2003-09-28
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Ken Keyes, the founder of Living Love, never mentioned the NVC (Non-Violent Communication) work of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, but I’m sure had he encountered it, he would have loved it, and would have incorporated it into the formal living love system. You can think of NVC as an elaboration of the prescriptions for Happiness, as a variant EIP process, or as an elaboration of positive intentions.

NVC In A Nutshell

According to Dr. Rosenberg, humans speak two languages, Jackal and Giraffe (the land animal with the biggest heart). Jackal is mostly about blaming others for our pain. Jackal is mostly concerned with the past. Giraffe, on the other hand rigidly confines itself to four topics:
  1. Observations of what is happening now. These are Sergeant Friday, just-the-facts-Ma’am descriptions, without evaluating, moralising or blaming.
  2. What I am feeling and what I guess you are feeling.
  3. What it is I think I need and what it is I think you need.
  4. Concise, specific, concrete, doable, clear requests of others to meet those needs. A five year old would likely be able to tell if the request were granted. You can’t ask that X love you, but you can ask for a kiss or a cherry pie. State them postively, what you want others to do, not want you want them to avoid doing.
When Giraffe speakers encounter Jackal speakers, Giraffes try to guess the feelings and needs behind the Jackal blame and shame games. This is much easier said that done. Giraffes try to help Jackals focus on their own present feelings and needs.

What Rosenberg discovered, is when you get a group of people (mixed Giraffe and Jackal speakers) focusing on their own feelings and needs, automatically they start to co-operate to help each other get those needs met — even Rwandans who days earlier where slicing each other’s children to bits.

A skilled Giraffe can figure out what the feelings and needs are behind a vicious attack and sees those needs and feelings only, ignoring the attack itself. Giraffes don’t concern themselves with what Jackals think, just how they are feeling and what they need. They constantly lead the Jackals away from their thoughts and judgements to their feelings and needs.

NVC Notions

The word should is short hand for "I want that person punished for doing that. I want them to suffer." It is therefore a word not used in Giraffe.

People don’t make you angry, your attack thoughts about them do.

If you are not in touch with your needs and feelings, chances are you won’t be very skillful in getting your needs met.

Jackals make the error of blaming some other person, rather than going directly for getting their needs met.

The way you tell a request from a demand, is what you do if the other person does not fulfill it.

Jackals are usually completely unaware of their needs.

If someone is psychologically troubled, it does not help to dwell on the past or root about in the past to discover the causes of the current malaise. It is better to focus on what current feelings and needs are and what could be done to satisfy those needs.

Both praise and blame are attempts to manipulate. They will eventually backfire. Let your appreciations be heartfelt.


A good Giraffe spends a lot of time paraphrasing what others tell him to let those people know they have been understood. It turns out this is what people need far more than having their problems fixed for them.

People attempting to be empathetic will typically make the following errors:

What is more likely to work is trying to glean the troubled person’s feelings and needs and echo them back to them, until both you and the person you are talking to are clearly aware of them.

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