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Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg

At top of this note are highlights from the book. Below are my own takeaways, paraphrases, and content that will be transferred into the Miki.

Page 1 Believing that it is our nature to enjoy giving and receiving in a compassionate manner, I have been preoccupied most of my life with two questions: What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature, leading us to behave violently and exploitatively? And conversely, what allows some people to stay connected to their compassionate nature under even the most trying circumstances?

Page 3 We are led to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and empathic attention.

Be honest and straightforward, but kind and caring

Page 3 As NVC replaces our old patterns of defending, withdrawing, or attacking in the face of judgment and criticism, we come to perceive ourselves and others, as well as our intentions and relationships, in a new light. Resistance, defensiveness, and violent reactions are minimized. When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion.

He talks about the 4 sins here. Withdrawing = stonewalling,

Page 4 On a deeper level, it is an ongoing reminder to keep our attention focused on a place where we are more likely to get what we are seeking.

Page 6 First, we observe what is actually happening in a situation: what are we observing others saying or doing that is either enriching or not enriching our life? The trick is to be able to articulate this observation without introducing any judgment or evaluation—to simply say what people are doing that we either like or don’t like. Next, we state how we feel when we observe this action: are we hurt, scared, joyful, amused, irritated? And thirdly, we say what needs of ours are connected to the feelings we have identified.

Page 6 “Felix, when I see two balls of soiled socks under the coffee table and another three next to the TV, I feel irritated because I am needing more order in the rooms that we share in common.” She would follow immediately with the fourth component—a very specific request: “Would you be willing to put your socks in your room or in the washing machine?”

Page 6 We connect with them by first sensing what they are observing, feeling, and needing; then we discover what would enrich their lives by receiving the fourth piece—their request.

Page 7 what I am observing, feeling, and needing; what I am requesting to enrich my life; what you are observing, feeling, and needing; what you are requesting to enrich your life …

Page 7 NVC Process The concrete actions we observe that affect our well-being How we feel in relation to what we observe The needs, values, desires, etc. that create our feelings The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives

Page 12 Some people use NVC to respond compassionately to themselves, some to create greater depth in their personal relationships, and still others to build effective relationships at work or in the political arena.

Page 14 Our dialogue continued, with him expressing his pain for nearly twenty more minutes, and me listening for the feeling and need behind each statement. I didn’t agree or disagree. I received his words, not as attacks, but as gifts from a fellow human willing to share his soul and deep vulnerabilities with me. Once the gentleman felt understood, he was able to hear me explain my purpose for being at the camp. An hour later, the same man who had called me a murderer was inviting me to his home for a Ramadan dinner.

Page 16 Our attention is focused on classifying, analyzing, and determining levels of wrongness rather than on what we and others need and are not getting.

Page 16 Analyses of others are actually expressions of our own needs and values.

Page 17 Had we been raised speaking a language that facilitated the expression of compassion, we would have learned to articulate our needs and values directly, rather than to insinuate wrongness when they have not been met. For example, instead of “Violence is bad,” we might say instead, “I am fearful of the use of violence to resolve conflicts; I value the resolution of human conflicts through other means.”

Page 18 Classifying and judging people promotes violence.

Page 19 clouds our awareness that we are each responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Page 20 We deny responsibility for our actions when we attribute their cause to factors outside ourselves:

Page 21 We can replace language that implies lack of choice with language that acknowledges choice.

Page 21 We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.

Page 22 Communicating our desires as demands is yet another form of language that blocks compassion. A demand explicitly or implicitly threatens listeners with blame or punishment if they fail to comply.

Page 22 The concept that certain actions merit reward while others merit punishment is also associated with life-alienating communication. This thinking is expressed by the word deserve as in “He deserves to be punished for what he did.” It assumes “badness” on the part of people who behave in certain ways, and it calls for punishment to make them repent and change their behavior. I believe it is in everyone’s interest that people change, not in order to avoid punishment, but because they see the change as benefiting themselves.

Page 23 The language of wrongness, should, and have to is perfectly suited for this purpose: the more people are trained to think in terms of moralistic judgments that imply wrongness and badness, the more they are being trained to look outside themselves—to outside authorities—for the definition of what constitutes right, wrong, good, and bad. When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.

Page 26 We need to clearly observe what we are seeing, hearing, or touching that is affecting our sense of well-being, without mixing in any evaluation.

Page 26 It only requires that we maintain a separation between our observations and our evaluations.

Page 26 When we combine observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear criticism.

Page 28 While the effects of negative labels such as “lazy” and “stupid” may be more obvious, even a positive or an apparently neutral label such as “cook” limits our perception of the totality of another person’s being.

Page 28 Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.

Page 29 instead of Nonviolent Communication, they applied nonverbal condemnation.

Page 30 Distinguishing Observations From Evaluations

Page 32 The first component of NVC entails the separation of observation from evaluation. When we combine observation with evaluation, others are apt to hear criticism and resist what we are saying.

Page 32 NVC is a process language that discourages static generalizations. Instead, observations are to be made specific to time and context, for example, “Hank Smith has not scored a goal in twenty games,” rather than “Hank Smith is a poor soccer player.”

Page 37 The first component of NVC is to observe without evaluating; the second component is to express how we are feeling.

Page 39 statements such as “I feel like I’m living with a wall” are unlikely to bring her feelings and desires to her husband’s attention. In fact, they are more likely to be heard as criticism than as invitations to connect with our feelings. Furthermore, such statements often lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. A husband, for example, hears himself criticized for behaving like a wall; he is hurt and discouraged and doesn’t respond, thereby confirming his wife’s image of him as a wall.

Page 40 When I asked why an admission of fear seemed so impossible, he replied without hesitation, “If we admitted we’re frightened, then they would just pick us to pieces!” His answer didn’t surprise me; I have often heard people say they cannot imagine ever expressing feelings at their workplace.

Page 40 Expressing our vulnerability can help resolve conflicts.

Page 41 in the English language, it is not necessary to use the word feel at all when we are actually expressing a feeling: we can say, “I’m feeling irritated,” or simply, “I’m irritated.”

Page 41 Distinguish between what we feel and what we think we are.

Page 42 Distinguish between what we feel and how we think others react or behave toward us.

Page 46 The second component necessary for expressing ourselves is feelings.

Page 46 By developing a vocabulary of feelings that allows us to clearly and specifically name or identify our emotions, we can connect more easily with one another.

Page 46 Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable by expressing our feelings can help resolve conflicts.

Page 46 NVC distinguishes the expression of actual feelings from words and statements that describe thoughts, assessments, and interpretations.

Page 47 I don’t consider “you don’t love me” to be a feeling. To me, it expresses what the speaker thinks the other person is feeling, rather than how the speaker is feeling.

Page 47 Whenever the words I feel are followed by the words I, you, he, she, they, it, that, like, or as if, what follows is generally not what I would consider to be a feeling.

Page 49 The third component of NVC entails the acknowledgment of the root of our feelings.

Page 49 We see that our feelings result from how we choose to receive what others say and do, as well as from our particular

Page 49 What others do may be the stimulus of our feelings, but not the cause.

Page 49 Four options for receiving negative messages: 1. blame ourselves.

Page 50 2. blame others.

Page 50 “Are you feeling hurt because you need more consideration for your preferences?”

Page 50 We accept responsibility for our feelings, rather than blame other people, by acknowledging our own needs, desires, expectations, values, or thoughts.

Page 52 we can deepen our awareness of our own responsibility by substituting the phrase, “I feel … because I … ”

Page 52 Connect your feeling with your need: “I feel … because I need …”

Page 52 The basic mechanism of motivating by guilt is to attribute the responsibility for one’s own feelings to others.

Page 52 Distinguish between giving from the heart and being motivated by guilt.

Page 52 Judgments, criticisms, diagnoses, and interpretations of others are all alienated expressions of our needs.

Page 52 Judgments of others are alienated expressions of our own unmet needs.

Page 52 When we express our needs indirectly through the use of evaluations, interpretations, and images, others are likely to hear criticism. And when people hear anything that sounds like criticism, they tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack.

Page 53 If we express our needs, we have a better chance of getting them met.

Page 54 It has been my experience over and over again that from the moment people begin talking about what they need rather than what’s wrong with one another, the possibility of finding ways to meet everybody’s needs is greatly increased.

Page 56 If we don’t value our needs, others may not either.

Page 56 “I’ve just become aware that for thirty-six years, I was angry with your father for not meeting my needs, and now I realize that I never once clearly told him what I needed.” My mother’s revelation was accurate. Not one time, that I can remember, did she clearly express her needs to my father. She’d hint around and go through all kinds of convolutions, but never would she ask directly for what she needed.

Page 57 Stage 1: In this stage, which I refer to as emotional slavery, we believe ourselves responsible for the feelings of others. We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy. If they don’t appear happy, we feel responsible and compelled to do something about it. This can easily lead us to see the very people who are closest to us as burdens.

Page 58 First stage: Emotional slavery. We see ourselves responsible for others’ feelings.

Page 58 Stage 2: In this stage, we become aware of the high costs of assuming responsibility for others’ feelings and trying to accommodate them at our own expense.

Page 58 I refer jokingly to this stage as the obnoxious stage because we tend toward obnoxious comments like, “That’s your problem! I’m not responsible for your feelings!” when presented with another person’s pain.

Page 59 Second stage: The obnoxious stage. We feel angry; we no longer want to be responsible for others’ feelings.

Page 59 in the obnoxious stage, we have yet to grasp that emotional liberation entails more than simply asserting our own needs.

Page 60 Stage 3: At the third stage, emotional liberation, we respond to the needs of others out of compassion, never out of fear, guilt, or shame. Our actions are therefore fulfilling to us, as well as to those who receive our efforts.

Page 60 Emotional liberation involves stating clearly what we need in a way that communicates we are equally concerned that the needs of others be fulfilled.

Page 60 Third stage: Emotional liberation. We take responsibility for our intentions and actions.

Page 61 This time, she remembered she had the option of listening for the feelings and needs behind the words that had shocked her.

Page 64 (expressing herself in NVC, and using all four parts of the process: observation [O], feeling [F], need [N], request [R]) You know, when you first said that we should bring back the stigma of illegitimacy (O), I got really scared (F), because it really matters to me that all of us here share a deep caring for people needing help (N). Some of the people coming here for food are teenage parents (O), and I want to make sure they feel welcome (N). Would you mind telling me how you feel when you see Dashal, or Amy and her boyfriend, walking in? (R)

Page 67 The fourth and final component of this process addresses what we would like to request of others in order to enrich life for us.

Page 70 Making requests in clear, positive, concrete action language reveals what we really want.

Page 71 Vague language contributes to internal confusion.

Page 72 Depression is the reward we get for being “good.”

Page 72 Very often, my clients were able to see how the lack of awareness of what they wanted from others had contributed significantly to their frustrations and depression.

Page 72 “I’m annoyed you forgot the butter and onions I asked you to pick up for dinner.” While it may be obvious to her that she is asking him to go back to the store, the husband may think that her words were uttered solely to make him feel guilty.

Page 72 When we simply express our feelings, it may not be clear to the listener what we want them to do.

Page 73 Even more often, we are simply not conscious of what we are requesting when we speak. We talk to others or at them without knowing how to engage in a dialogue with them.

Page 73 We are often not conscious of what we are requesting.

Page 73 Requests may sound like demands when unaccompanied by the speaker’s feelings and needs.

Page 74 My belief is that, whenever we say something to another person, we are requesting something in return. It may simply be an empathic connection—a verbal or nonverbal acknowledgment, as with the man on the train, that our words have been understood. Or we may be requesting honesty: we wish to know the listener’s honest reaction to our words. Or we may be requesting an action that we hope would fulfill our needs. The clearer we are on what we want back from the other person, the more likely it is that our needs will be met.

Page 74 The clearer we are about what we want, the more likely it is that we’ll get it.

Page 74 To make sure the message we sent is the message that’s received, ask the listener to reflect it back.

Page 75 Express appreciation when your listener tries to meet your request for a reflection.

Page 75 When we first begin asking others to reflect back what they hear us say, it may feel awkward and strange because such requests are rarely made.

Page 76 Empathize with the listener who doesn’t want to reflect back.

Page 76 “I would like you to tell me how you feel about what I just said, and your reasons for feeling as you do.”

Page 76 After we express ourselves vulnerably, we often want to know (1) what the listener is feeling;

Page 76 we might say, “I’d like you to tell me if you predict that my proposal would be successful, and if not, what you believe would prevent its success,” rather than simply saying, “I’d like you to tell me what you think about what I’ve said.” When we don’t specify which thoughts we would like to receive, the other person may respond at great length with thoughts that aren’t the ones we are seeking.

Page 76 (2) what the listener is thinking; or

Page 77 “I’d like you to tell me if you would be willing to postpone our meeting for one week.”

Page 77 (3) whether the listener would be willing to take a particular action.

Page 77 The use of NVC requires that we be conscious of the specific form of honesty we would like to receive, and to make that request for honesty in concrete language.

Page 78 When we address a group without being clear what we are wanting back, unproductive discussions will often follow. However, if even one member of a group is conscious of the importance of clearly requesting the response that is desired, he or she can extend this consciousness to the group.

Page 78 “I’m confused about how you’d like us to respond to your story. Would you be willing to say what response you’d like from us?” Such interventions can prevent the waste of precious group time.

Page 78 In a group, much time is wasted when speakers aren’t certain what response they’re wanting.

Page 79 When the other person hears a demand from us, they see two options: to submit or to rebel.

Page 79 To tell if it’s a demand or a request, observe what the speaker does if the request is not complied with.

Page 79 It’s a demand if the speaker then criticizes or judges.

Page 80 It’s a request if the speaker then shows empathy toward the other person’s needs.

Page 80 We demonstrate that we are making a request rather than a demand by how we respond when others don’t comply. If we are prepared to show an empathic understanding of what prevents someone from doing as we asked, then by my definition, we have made a request, not a demand.

Page 81 Our objective is a relationship based on honesty and empathy.

Page 85 The fourth component of NVC addresses the question of what we would like to request of each other to enrich each of our lives. We try to avoid vague, abstract, or ambiguous phrasing, and remember to use positive action language by stating what we are requesting rather than what we are not.

Page 85 Each time we speak, the clearer we are about what we want back, the more likely we are to get it. Since the message we send is not always the message that’s received, we need to learn how to find out if our message has been accurately heard.

Page 91 Empathy: emptying our mind and listening with our whole being

Page 92 Ask before offering advice or reassurance.

Page 93 Questions such as, “When did this begin?” constituted the most frequent response; they give the appearance that the professional is obtaining the information necessary to diagnose and then treat the problem. In fact, such intellectual understanding of a problem blocks the kind of presence that empathy requires.

Page 94 Intellectual understanding blocks empathy.

Page 94 no matter what words people use to express themselves, we listen for their observations, feelings, needs, and requests.

Page 94 No matter what others say, we only hear what they are (1) observing, (2) feeling, (3) needing, and (4) requesting.

Page 95 Listen to what people are needing rather than what they are thinking.

Page 96 NVC suggests that our paraphrasing take the form of questions that reveal our understanding while eliciting any necessary corrections from the speaker.

Page 97 When asking for information, first express our own feelings and needs.

Page 98 There are no infallible guidelines regarding when to paraphrase, but as a rule of thumb, it is safe to assume that speakers expressing intensely emotional messages would appreciate our reflecting these back to them.

Page 98 Reflect back messages that are emotionally charged.

Page 98 Paraphrase only when it contributes to greater compassion and understanding.

Page 99 When we paraphrase, the tone of voice we use is highly important. When hearing themselves reflected back, people are likely to be sensitive to the slightest hint of criticism or sarcasm.

Page 99 As we’ve seen, all criticism, attack, insults, and judgments vanish when we focus attention on hearing the feelings and needs behind a message. The more we practice in this way, the more we realize a simple truth: behind all those messages we’ve allowed ourselves to be intimidated by are just individuals with unmet needs appealing to us to contribute to their well-being.

Page 100 Behind intimidating messages are merely people appealing to us to meet their needs.

Page 100 A difficult message becomes an opportunity to enrich someone’s life.

Page 100 We might ask ourselves, for example, whether we are more intent on applying the process “correctly” than on connecting with the human being in front of us. Or perhaps, even though we are using the form of NVC, our only interest is in changing the other person’s behavior.

Page 100 Paraphrasing tends to save, rather than waste, time. Studies in labor-management negotiations demonstrate that the time required to reach conflict resolution is cut in half when each negotiator agrees, before responding, to accurately repeat what the previous speaker had said.

Page 100 Paraphrasing saves time.

Page 101 Wife: “You never listen to me.” MBR in role of husband: “It sounds like you’re terribly frustrated because you would like to feel more connection when we speak.”

Page 101 It is a poignant experience to receive concrete evidence that someone is empathically connected to us.

Page 102 “It sounds like you’re feeling desperate and would like to find some way of connecting with your son.” Such a paraphrase often encourages a person to look within.

Page 102 “Are you feeling guilty because you would have liked to have been more understanding of him than you have been at times?”

Page 102 “So you’re feeling discouraged and want to relate differently to him?”

Page 102 When we stay with empathy, we allow speakers to touch deeper levels of themselves.

Page 102 We know a speaker has received adequate empathy when (1) we sense a release of tension, or (2) the flow of words comes to a halt.

Page 104 I scream nonviolently by calling attention to my own desperate needs and pain in the moment.

Page 104 In NVC, no matter what words others may use to express themselves, we simply listen for their observations, feelings, needs, and requests. Then we may wish to reflect back, paraphrasing what we have understood.

Page 104 We stay with empathy and allow others the opportunity to fully express themselves before we turn our attention to solutions or requests for relief.

Page 105 Are you feeling annoyed and wanting to see a different quality of care?

Page 105 Are you worrying about how you would feel if he dies?

Page 105 So you’re sad when you think of living without him?

Page 106 It sounds like when you think of your daughter, you feel frustrated because you wish you had a different relationship with her.

Page 106 Are you sad, wishing the two of you could support each other and feel more connected?

Page 107 The words good and bad are often used to describe feelings when people have yet to identify the specific emotion they are experiencing.

Page 107 (At this point, after two incorrect guesses, the nurse decides to express her own feelings.) Well, now I’m puzzled about what you may be feeling, and wonder if you can tell me.

Page 109 Are you feeling frustrated because you would like me to admit that there can be other ways of interpreting this matter?

Page 110 So you’re feeling nervous about how to make arrangements and would appreciate it if your future in-laws could be more aware of the complications their indecision creates for you?

Page 112 “So you’re feeling furious because you would like him to be around more than he is?”

Page 114 “So you’re really angry, Mom. You’d like for him to talk when he’s angry and not run off.”

Page 117 We “say a lot” by listening for other people’s feelings and needs.

Page 119 “Remember when you said never to put your ‘but’ in the face of an angry person? I was all ready to start arguing with him; I was about to say, ‘But I don’t have a room!’ when I remembered your joke.

Page 119 Rather than put your “but” in the face of an angry person, empathize.

Page 119 ‘It sounds like you’re really angry and you want to be given a room.’

Page 120 people who seem like monsters are simply human beings whose language and behavior sometimes keep us from seeing their humanness.

Page 120 The more I was able to focus my attention on his feelings and needs, the more I saw him as a person full of despair whose needs weren’t being met.

Page 120 When we listen for feelings and needs, we no longer see people as monsters.

Page 120 It may be difficult to empathize with those who are closest to us.

Page 121 “I sense that you are angry,” I said. “Is that so?”

Page 121 “So you’re feeling fearful and want to protect yourself from being in a situation where you might be judged for how you communicate?”

Page 122 How and when do we interrupt a dead conversation to bring it back to life? I’d suggest the best time to interrupt is when we’ve heard one word more than we want to hear. The longer we wait, the harder it is to be civil when we do step in.

Page 122 “So, Auntie, it sounds like you are still feeling hurt, wishing you’d been treated more fairly.”

Page 122 To bring a conversation back to life: interrupt with empathy.

Page 122 “I’m feeling impatient because I’d like to be more connected with you, but our conversation isn’t creating the kind of connection I’m wanting. I’d like to know if the conversation we’ve been having is meeting your needs, and if so, what needs of yours are being met through it.”

Page 123 “Are you annoyed with my interrupting because you would have liked to continue the conversation?”

Page 123 What bores the listener bores the speaker too.

Page 123 Speakers prefer that listeners interrupt rather than pretend to listen.

Page 124 “I’m sensing from your response to my crying that you’re feeling disgusted, and you’d prefer to have someone more in control of his feelings consulting with your staff.”

Page 124 Empathize with silence by listening for the feelings and needs behind it.

Page 124 “I’m sensing that you are frightened and would like to be sure that it’s safe to talk. Is that accurate?”

Page 128 What is essential is our ability to be present to what’s really going on within—to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing in that very moment.

Page 128 Empathy lies in our ability to be present.

Page 130 It is tragic that so many of us get enmeshed in self-hatred rather than benefit from our mistakes, which show us our limitations and guide us towards growth.

Page 131 Most of the time when we use this word with ourselves, we resist learning, because should implies that there is no choice.

Page 132 I am convinced that if we learn to evaluate ourselves in terms of whether and how well our needs are being fulfilled, we are much more likely to learn from the evaluation.

Page 132 Self-judgments, like all judgments, are tragic expressions of unmet needs.

Page 132 if we find ourselves reacting reproachfully to something we did (“Look, you just messed up again!”), we can quickly stop and ask ourselves, “What unmet need of mine is being expressed through this moralistic judgment?” When we do connect to the need—and there may be several layers of needs—we will notice a remarkable shift in our bodies. Instead of the shame, guilt, or depression we likely feel when criticizing ourselves for having “messed up again,” we will experience any number of other feelings. Whether it’s sadness, frustration, disappointment, fear, grief, or some other feeling, we have been endowed by nature with these feelings for a purpose: they mobilize us to pursue and fulfill what we need or value. The impact of these feelings on our spirit and bodies is substantially different from the disconnection that is brought on by guilt, shame, and depression.

Page 133 We follow up on the process of mourning with self-forgiveness. Turning our attention to the part of the self which chose to act in the way that led to the present situation, we ask ourselves, “When I behaved in the way which I now regret, what need of mine was I trying to meet?”

Page 133 believe that human beings are always acting in the service of needs and values. This is true whether the action does or does not meet the need, or whether it’s one we end up celebrating or regretting.

Page 134 NVC self-forgiveness: connecting with the need we were trying to meet when we took the action that we now regret.

Page 135 We are compassionate with ourselves when we are able to embrace all parts of ourselves and recognize the needs and values expressed by each part.

Page 135 When we are conscious of the life-enriching purpose behind an action we take, when the sole energy that motivates us is simply to make life wonderful for others and ourselves, then even hard work has an element of play in it. Correspondingly, an otherwise joyful activity performed out of obligation, duty, fear, guilt, or shame will lose its joy and eventually engender resistance.

Page 137 get in touch with the intention behind your choice by completing the statement, I choose to … because I want ….

Page 137 With every choice you make, be conscious of what need it serves.

Page 138 Cultivating Awareness of the Energy Behind Our Actions

Page 138 As you explore the statement, “I choose to … because I want … ,” you may discover—as I did with the children’s car pool—the important values behind the choices you’ve made.

Page 138 (1) FOR MONEY

Page 138 Money is a major form of extrinsic reward in our society.

Page 138 (2) FOR APPROVAL Like money, approval from others is a form of extrinsic reward. Our culture has educated us to hunger for reward. We attended schools that used extrinsic means to motivate us to study; we grew up in homes where we were rewarded for being good little boys and girls, and were punished when our caretakers judged us to be otherwise.

Page 138 when we do things solely in the spirit of enhancing life, we will find others appreciating us. Their appreciation, however, is only a feedback mechanism confirming that our efforts had the intended effect.

Page 139 (3) TO ESCAPE PUNISHMENT Some of us pay income tax primarily to avoid punishment.

Page 139 (4) TO AVOID SHAME There may be some tasks we choose to do just to avoid shame. We know that if we don’t do them, we’ll end up suffering severe self-judgment, hearing our own voice telling us there is something wrong or stupid about us.

Page 139 (5) TO AVOID GUILT In other instances, we may think, “If I don’t do this, people will be disappointed in me.” We are afraid we’ll end up feeling guilty for failing to fulfill other people’s expectations of us.

Page 139 Be conscious of actions motivated by the desire for money or approval, and by fear, shame, or guilt. Know the price you pay for them.

Page 139 (6) TO SATISFY A SENSE OF DUTY When we use language which denies choice (for example, words such as should, have to, ought, must, can’t, supposed to, etc.), our behaviors arise out of a vague sense of guilt, duty, or obligation. I consider this to be the most socially dangerous and personally unfortunate of all the ways we act when we’re cut off from our needs.

Page 140 The most dangerous of all behaviors may consist of doing things “because we’re supposed to.”

Page 140 When we make mistakes, instead of getting caught up in moralistic self-judgments, we can use the process of NVC mourning and self-forgiveness to show us where we can grow.

Page 140 By assessing our behaviors in terms of our own unmet needs, the impetus for change comes not out of shame, guilt, anger, or depression, but out of the genuine desire to contribute to our own and others’ well-being.

Page 140 If we review the joyless acts to which we currently subject ourselves and make the translation from “have to” to “choose to,” we will discover more play and integrity in our lives.

Page 141 The process we are describing, however, does not encourage us to ignore, squash, or swallow anger, but rather to express the core of our anger fully and wholeheartedly.

Page 141 The first step to fully expressing anger in NVC is to divorce the other person from any responsibility for our anger. We rid ourselves of thoughts such as, “He (or she or they) made me angry when they did that.” Such thinking leads us to express our anger superficially by blaming or punishing the other person.

Page 142 We are never angry because of what others say or do.

Page 142 “I just told you,” he exclaimed. “I felt angry because they didn’t respond to my request!” By equating stimulus and cause, he had tricked himself into thinking that it was the behavior of the prison officials that was making him angry. This is an easy habit to acquire in a culture that uses guilt as a means of controlling people. In such cultures, it becomes important to trick people into thinking that we can make others feel a certain way.

Page 142 We say: “You make me angry.” “You hurt me by doing that.” “I feel sad because you did that.” We use our language in many different ways to trick ourselves into believing that our feelings result from what others do. The first step in the process of fully expressing our anger is to realize that what other people do is never the cause of how we feel.

Page 143 The cause of anger lies in our thinking—in thoughts of blame and judgment.

Page 143 whenever we are angry, we are finding fault—we are choosing to play God by judging or blaming the other person for being wrong or deserving punishment. I would like to suggest that this is the cause of anger. Even if we are not initially conscious of it, the cause of anger is located in our own thinking.

Page 143 it is not the behavior of the other person but our own need that causes our feeling.

Page 143 It indicates that we have moved up to our head to analyze and judge somebody rather than focus on which of our needs are not getting met.

Page 144 Rather than agreeing or disagreeing about what people are for murdering, raping, or polluting the environment, I believe we serve life better by focusing attention on what we are needing.

Page 144 When we judge others, we contribute to violence.

Page 144 anger can be valuable if we use it as an alarm clock to wake us up—to realize we have a need that isn’t being met and that we are thinking in a way that makes it unlikely to be met.

Page 144 This may take extensive practice, whereby over and over again, we consciously replace the phrase “I am angry because they … ” with “I am angry because I am needing … ”

Page 144 Use anger as a wake-up call.

Page 145 Anger co-opts our energy by diverting it toward punitive actions.

Page 145 it’s not what the other person does, but the images and interpretations in my own head that produce my anger.

Page 146 When we become aware of our needs, anger gives way to life-serving feelings.

Page 147 Violence comes from the belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment.

Page 147 We recall four options when hearing a difficult message: 1. Blame ourselves 2. Blame others 3. Sense our own feelings and needs 4. Sense others’ feelings and needs

Page 148 by the very act of judging another person as a liar, I would contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why would people want to tell the truth, knowing they will be judged and punished for doing so?

Page 148 Judgments of others contribute to self-fulfilling prophecies.

Page 148 Of course, we may be successful in using such judgments to intimidate people into meeting our needs. If they feel so frightened, guilty, or ashamed that they change their behavior, we may come to believe that it is possible to “win” by telling people what’s wrong with them.

Page 149 Steps to expressing anger: 1. Stop. Breathe. 2. Identify our judgmental thoughts. 3. Connect with our needs. 4. Express our feelings and unmet needs.

Page 149 The more we empathize with what leads them to behave in the ways that are not meeting our needs, the more likely it is that they will be able to reciprocate afterwards.

Page 150 The more we hear them, the more they’ll hear us.

Page 150 My intention was to connect with him and show a respectful empathy for the life energy in him that was behind the comment. My experience told me that if I were able to empathize, then he would be able to hear me in return. It would not be easy, but he would be able to.

Page 150 Stay conscious of the violent thoughts that arise in our minds, without judging them.

Page 152 Our need is for the other person to truly hear our pain.

Page 152 I intended to slow down the conversation, because in my experience, to whatever degree people hear blame, they have failed to hear our pain.

Page 152 As soon as people think that they have done something wrong, they will not be fully apprehending our pain.

Page 152 People do not hear our pain when they believe they are at fault.

Page 153 Practice translating each judgment into an unmet need.

Page 154 If we wish to fully express anger, the first step is to divorce the other person from any responsibility for our anger. Instead we shine the light of consciousness on our own feelings and needs.

Page 154 By expressing our needs, we are far more likely to get them met than by judging, blaming, or punishing others.

Page 154 The four steps to expressing anger are (1) stop and breathe, (2) identify our judgmental thoughts, (3) connect with our needs, and (4) express our feelings and unmet needs.

Page 158 Are you sad that she’s having to pay so much for her mistake?

Page 158 Oh, so are you upset she’s paying for something that was your idea to start with?

Page 160 (translating Bill’s self-judgments into feelings and needs) So you’re sad, and regret what you did because you’d like to be trusted not to do harm?

Page 161 resolving conflicts involves all the principles I outlined previously in this book: observing, identifying and expressing feelings, connecting feelings with needs, and making doable requests of another person

Page 161 creating a connection between the people who are in conflict is the most important thing. This is what enables all the other steps of NVC to work, because it’s not until you have forged that connection that each side will seek to know exactly what the other side is feeling and needing.

Page 162 The parties also need to know from the start that the objective is not to get the other side to do what they want them to do. And once the two sides understand that, it becomes possible—sometimes even easy—to have a conversation about how to meet their needs.

Page 162 Creating a connection between people is the most important thing.

Page 162 we work to create that quality of mutual concern and respect where each party thinks their own needs matter and they are conscious that their needs and the other person’s well-being are interdependent. When that happens, it’s amazing how conflicts that otherwise seem irresolvable are easily resolved.

Page 162 I work to lead the two sides to this caring and respectful connection. This is often the tough part. Once that is accomplished, I help both sides create strategies that will resolve the conflict to both sides’ satisfaction.

Page 163 Many mediators define their role as a “third head” trying to think of a way to get everybody to come to an agreement. They are not at all concerned with creating a quality of connection, thus overlooking the only conflict resolution tool I have ever known to work.

Page 164 When you make the connection, the problem usually solves itself.

Page 164 First, we express our own needs.

Page 164 Throughout, we’re listening to each other with utmost care, avoiding the use of language that implies wrongness on either side.

Page 164 Avoid the use of language that implies wrongness.

Page 165 Many of us have great difficulty expressing our needs: we have been taught by society to criticize, insult, and otherwise (mis)communicate in ways that keep us apart.

Page 165 In order not to confuse needs and strategies, it is important to recall that needs contain no reference to anybody taking any particular action. On the other hand, strategies, which may appear in the form of requests, desires, wants, and “solutions,” refer to specific actions that specific people may take.

Page 166 Instead of expressing needs, they were doing analysis, which is easily heard as criticism by a listener. As mentioned earlier in this book, analyses that imply wrongness are essentially tragic expressions of unmet needs.

Page 167 Intellectual analysis is often received as criticism.

Page 168 To resolve conflicts using NVC, we need to train ourselves to hear people expressing needs regardless of how they do the expressing. If we really want to be of assistance to others, the first thing to learn is to translate any message into an expression of a need. The message might take the form of silence, denial, a judgmental remark, a gesture—or, hopefully, a request. We hone our skills to hear the need within every message, even if at first we have to rely on guesses.

Page 168 So this is our work: learning to recognize the need in statements that don’t overtly express any need. It takes practice, and it always involves some guessing. Once we sense what the other person needs, we can check in with them, and then help them put their need into words. If we are able to truly hear their need, a new level of connection is forged—a critical piece that moves the conflict toward successful resolution.

Page 168 Learn to hear needs regardless of how people express them.

Page 169 Criticism and diagnosis get in the way of peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Page 169 His use of diagnosis (“She is irresponsible.”) is reflective of language that gets in the way of peaceful resolution of conflicts. When either side hears itself criticized, diagnosed, or interpreted, the energy of the situation will likely turn toward self-defense and counter-accusations rather than toward resolution.

Page 170 when we reflect back incorrect guesses to others, it may help them get in touch with their true needs. It takes them out of analysis toward greater connection to life.

Page 170 We must not assume that when one party expresses a need clearly, that the other party hears it accurately. I asked the wife, “Can you tell me back what you heard to be your husband’s needs in this situation?”

Page 170 When we have pain built up over many years, it can get in the way of our ability to hear clearly, even when what is being expressed is clear to others.

Page 170 When people are upset, they often need empathy before they can hear what is being said to them.

Page 171 People often need empathy before they are able to hear what is being said.

Page 171 “I sense that you’re feeling really hurt and you need to be trusted that you can learn from past experience,”

Page 171 The more experience I have gained in mediating conflicts over the years and the more I’ve seen what leads families to argue and nations to go to war, the more convinced I am that most schoolchildren could solve these conflicts. If we could just say, “Here are the needs of both sides. Here are the resources. What can be done to meet these needs?,” conflicts would be easily resolved. But instead, our thinking is focused on dehumanizing one another with labels and judgments until even the simplest of conflicts becomes very difficult to solve. NVC helps us avoid that trap, thereby enhancing the chances of reaching a satisfying resolution.

Page 172 The process of resolving conflict has to end with actions that meet everybody’s needs. It is the presentation of strategies in clear, present, positive action language that moves conflicts toward resolution.

Page 172 The use of a present language request that begins with “Would you be willing to …” helps foster a respectful discussion. If the other side answers that they are not willing, it invites the next step of understanding what prevents their willingness.

Page 172 The clearer we are regarding the response we want right now from the other party, the more effectively we move the conflict toward resolution.

Page 173 In situations of conflict, it is especially important to focus on what we do want rather than what we do not want. Talking about what one doesn’t want can easily create confusion and resistance among conflicting parties.

Page 175 Listening carefully to the message behind the “no” helps us understand the other person’s needs: When they say “no,” they’re saying they have a need that keeps them from saying “yes” to what we are asking. If we can hear the need behind a “no,” we can continue the conflict resolution process—maintaining our focus on finding a way to meet everybody’s needs—even if the other party says “no” to the particular strategy we presented them.

Page 177 As we move through the mediation process, it is likely that we will hear a lot of discussion about what happened in the past and what people want to happen differently in the future. However, conflict resolution can only happen right now, so now is where we need to focus.

Page 178 No matter what else is going on, we all have the same needs. Needs are universal.

Page 182 We need to be well practiced at hearing the need in any message.

Page 183 We refrain, however, from mentioning our own needs regarding the person’s behavior until it is clear to them that we understand and care about his or her needs. Otherwise people will not care about our needs nor will they see that their needs and ours are one and the same.

Page 183 The use of NVC to resolve conflict differs from traditional mediation methods; instead of deliberating over issues, strategies, and means of compromise, we concentrate foremost on identifying the needs of both parties, and only then seek strategies to fulfill those needs.

Page 184 When one party is in too much pain to hear the needs of the other, we extend empathy, taking as long as necessary to ensure that the person knows their pain is heard.

Page 184 We do not hear “no” as a rejection but rather as an expression of the need that is keeping the person from saying “yes.”

Page 184 Only after all needs have been mutually heard, do we progress to the solutions stage: making doable requests using positive, action language.

Page 186 Punitive action, on the other hand, is based on the assumption that people commit offenses because they are bad or evil, and to correct the situation, they need to be made to repent. Their “correction” is undertaken through punitive action designed to make them (1) suffer enough to see the error of their ways, (2) repent, and (3) change. In practice, however, punitive action, rather than evoking repentance and learning, is just as likely to generate resentment and hostility and to reinforce resistance to the very behavior we are seeking.

Page 187 Punishment also includes judgmental labeling and the withholding of privileges.

Page 188 When we fear punishment, we focus on consequences, not on our own values. Fear of punishment diminishes self-esteem and goodwill.

Page 189 “I’m sensing that you’re feeling angry because you’d like to be treated with more respect.”

Page 189 “I’m feeling sad because I want us to find ways to get respect that don’t turn people into enemies. I’d like you to tell me if you’d be willing to explore with me some other ways to get the respect you’re wanting.”

Page 189 with the second question, it becomes evident that punishment isn’t likely to work: What do I want this person’s reasons to be for doing what I’m asking?

Page 189 Question 1: What do I want this person to do? Question 2: What do I want this person’s reasons to be for doing it?

Page 193 The punitive use of force tends to generate hostility and to reinforce resistance to the very behavior we are seeking. Punishment damages goodwill and self-esteem, and shifts our attention from the intrinsic value of an action to external consequences. Blaming and punishing fail to contribute to the motivations we would like to inspire in others.

Page 195 The masses, discouraged from developing awareness of their own needs, have instead been educated to be docile and subservient to authority.

Page 196 when we have a judgmental dialogue going on within, we become alienated from what we are needing and cannot then act to meet those needs.

Page 196 Depression is indicative of a state of alienation from our own needs.

Page 197 “When a, I feel b, because I am needing c. Therefore I now would like d.”

Page 197 The ability to hear our own feelings and needs and empathize with them can free us from depression.

Page 198 Focus on what we want to do rather than what went wrong.

Page 199 I was amazed how I could create a less stressful situation for myself by simply becoming aware of what I was feeling and needing rather than blaming others.

Page 201 I empathized with clients instead of interpreting them; I revealed myself instead of diagnosing them.

Page 202 ask myself the following questions rather than think in terms of what is wrong with a patient: “What is this person feeling? What is she or he needing? How am I feeling in response to this person, and what needs of mine are behind my feelings? What action or decision would I request this person to take in the belief that it would enable them to live more happily?”

Page 203 Our ability to distinguish our own feelings and needs and to empathize with them can free us from depression.

Page 203 By showing us how to focus on what we truly want rather than on what is wrong with others or ourselves, NVC gives us the tools and understanding to create a more peaceful state of mind.

Page 205 It sounds to me like you’re angry because you want me to know and recognize who you really are before criticizing you. Is that so?

Page 206 By using the word I, she attributes Leav’s feeling to Iris herself, rather than to some desire on Leav’s own part that generates the feeling. That is, not “You’re frustrated because I am a certain way,” but “You’re frustrated because you wanted something different from me.”

Page 210 Express appreciation to celebrate, not to manipulate.

Page 210 Saying “thank you” in NVC: “This is what you did; this is what I feel; this is the need of mine that was met.”

Page 212 Hearing all three pieces of information—what I did, how she felt, and what needs of hers were fulfilled—I could then celebrate the appreciation with her. Had she initially expressed her appreciation in NVC, it might have sounded like this: “Marshall, when you said these two things (showing me her notes), I felt very hopeful and relieved, because I’ve been searching for a way to make a connection with my son, and these gave me the direction I was looking for.”

Page 213 If I am aware that it is this power of God working through me that gives me the power to enrich life for others, then I may avoid both the ego trap and the false humility.

Page 213 Receive appreciation without feelings of superiority or false humility.

Page 215 We tend to notice what’s wrong rather than what’s right.

Page 216 NVC encourages the expression of appreciation solely for celebration. We state (1) the action that has contributed to our well-being, (2) the particular need of ours that has been fulfilled, and (3) the feelings of pleasure engendered as a result. When we receive appreciation expressed in this way, we can do so without any feeling of superiority or false humility—instead we can celebrate along with the person who is offering the appreciation.


    Marshall B. Rosenberg