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am 5. Juli 1999
This is the easiest to follow 'how to' book that I've read.
I must say that the first time I composed a total NVC sentence in response to something my daughter had done, I was thrilled with the silence with which she responded. It was like she totally heard what I said.
The premises from which Rosenburg starts are that compassion is a basic human state and that the specific process we use in communicating can make all the difference in how our message is received. Rosenberg says, " When we use NVC in our interactions--with ourselves, with an other person, or in a group--we become grounded in our natural state of compassion. NVC is an approach that can be effectively applied at all levels of communication and in diverse situations from self-talk to international politics.
Rosenberg states that there is nothing new in the NVC process; that it is to remind us about what we already know about relating to each other and to show us how to live in a way that concretely manifests this knowledge. "Through its emphasis on deep listening--to ourselves as well as others--NVC fosters respect, attentiveness, and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart."
The NVC model for communications includes: observing, without judgement, actions that effect our well-being, stating our feelings as we observe the action, saying what needs, values, desires are connected to the feelings, and requesting the concrete actions we would like.
For most of us it is difficult to make observations of people and their behavior that is free of judgement, criticism or analysis. When we include evaluation in observations people often hear us as criticizing them. What's more if our internal language doesn't clearly distinguish between, on one hand, the values we hold and, on the other hand, the objective descriptions of other's behaviors' we're troubled by, even our internal self-talk creates a dyanmic that makes communication difficult and conflict likely.
For the second component of the model many people he suggests it's valuable to increase our vocabulary in the area of feelings and emotions, NOT to be came diagnositicians or (on the other hand) to become pools of emotions, but to use them to get connected with our needs, and to convey our needs to others in a way that our vulnerability makes it easier for others to hear us. In short, that, along with clearity what we want from others, clarity about where we're comming from emotinally enhances connections between people.
Next he suggests we need to learn about our own needs. We're usually all pretty good at thinking about what's wrong with others. So, for example, if we want tools to be put back, we may characterize our children as "lazy" for leaving them about.
The fourth component of the model is learning how to express what we would like in a way in which others are more likely to respond compassionately. (In other words -- how to make effective requests.) We also, he suggests, need tools to learn how to find out if our messages has been adequately heard.
Rosenberg's model is used both for expressing ourselves honestly and receiving empathetically from others. At the beginning of any interaction we always have the choice of receiving information or expressing our own.
If I'm mad at you I have the choice of telling you about my anger or listening to your experience of the situation. In receiving empathetically we still use the model and listen for the other persons observations, feelings, needs, and requests.
In the final chapters Rosenburg discusses the power of empathy, how to express anger fully, the use of protective force, using NVC when talking with ourselves and -- last but not least -- expressing appreciation in ways richer than we commonly do.
Rosenburg includes many songs, poems, stories, anecdotes and exercises in his work in order to illustrate his points. This makes his book enjoyable to read as well as a valuable communications course.
What I would like now is some people with which to practice this model. It's not hard to make up one sentence to try the model out, but to become facile enough to respond easily in this style would take practice, support and more practice.
Judy Nommik, Ph.D.
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am 9. Juni 2000
I had read exactly one chapter of this book when a situation came up at work. My boss and I met to discuss the performance of a new employee. It quickly became obvious to me that both of us had some strong feelings of anger AND pity for the person that were clouding our judgment. I suggested that we follow the first step of the NVC model and simply write down our observations without any interpretation or judgment. This helped us clarify our thinking and come up with a plan for dealing with the person.
I know this isn't exactly what he was talking about, but if this technique can help me sort out my own feelings and interpretations from what is actually happening and get this kind of clarity for making a decision, then it's worth it!
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As a class teacher in a Waldorf elementary school, I relate with many children, parents, and colleagues on a daily basis. The process of non-violent communication presented in this book is transforming every one of these relationships. Living the process enables me to connect more deeply with the living present reality in each child, and children love and respond to the experience of that deep recognition. Parents remark at my increased openness and accessibility; whatever feelings or thoughts a parent might express, even what I might have formerly interpreted as anger, criticism or fault-finding, I am learning how to stay with process, stay with what is alive in them, and seek to know what unmet needs might be underlying those feelings or thoughts. Parents remark that they feel deeply listened to and heard. Solutions come more easily and naturally once our shared human needs are acknowledged. Conflicts and misunderstandings with colleagues now become opportunities to create deeper connections as together we translate our positions and strategies into the universally human needs underlying the feelings. Anger, depression, shame and guilt become friends, willing to help me wake to some vital need or longing within me that is not being met in some situation. Those voices we all have in our heads scolding us for this and blaming us for that--they too can be heard for the living human needs they represent.
Marshall has developed a new language, a language of the heart, that creates the possibility for all of these changes. Read the book! Seek out a trainer
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am 7. Februar 1999
Marshall Rosenberg offers a radical challenge to centuries of momentum toward thought and language that creates violence. His teachings illuminate the underpinnings of violence in our world, but maybe more importantly in our families and everyday life. The book addresses violence in its dramatic as well as subtle forms. He covers familiar territory for those who have studied communication and language, however the profound foundations and simple practicality of his message far exceed others' offerings to date. This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to end the unfulfilling cycles of argument in their relationship. It is essential for parents who wish to influence their childrens' behavior by engendering compassion rather than simply achieving obediance. It is essential for mediators encumbered by complex models of negotiation. Although not collaborators, Rosenberg's teachings provide the theoretical understanding and practical application consistent with the writings and research summaries of Alfie Kohn in his books "Punished by Rewards", "Beyond Discipline", and "No Contest" (as well as others by Kohn). If enough people actually make use of the material in "Nonviolent Communication" we may soon live in a more peaceful and compassionate world.
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am 22. März 1999
The following review appeared in CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, March 10-16,1999
Meet Marshall Rosenberg, quiet revolutionary
Based on cover endorsements from John Gray and Jack Canfield (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and Chicken Soup for the Soul), Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion sounds like another New Age, self-help book. Yet like Noam Chomsky -- who deconstructed language and then moved on to media and politics -- Rosenberg's work is intrinsically radical. Beginning by addressing language, it subverts our whole status-quo system of power: between children and adults, the sane and the psychotic, and criminal and the law.
Rosenberg starts with a question: "What happens to disconnect us ... leading us to behave violently and exploitively?" In answering, he gives his own story -- from surviving race riots and anti-semitism in Detroit to his training as a clinical psychologist. Ultimately, like the philosopher Michel Foucault, he explores the relationship between "power and knowledge" -- the way discourse is complicit in oppression. Cracking the code, he gives a pragmatic method of identifying feelings, values and needs, illustrating the judgmental language and the power relationships dominating every level of our society.
Not just theoretical, Rosenberg shows NVC at work -- often dramatically -- from dealing with racists in America to surviving attacks in Palestine simply for being an American. Well-written and laid out, with cartoon illustrations, transcripts from actual dialogues and a summary of main points in the margins, Nonviolent Communication is accessible and easy to read -- perhaps deceptively so. Especially in the latter half of the book, Rosenberg makes some challenging points: that compliments and apologies also operate in a system of oppression; that rewards are as harmful as punishment; that, as violence goes, killing is the easy way out. Making the personal political, he takes to task parenting, political activists, corporations, the prison system, education and psychology -- which, years after he finished his training, he still finds harmful in its emotional distancing, diagnosis and hierarchy. His distinction between "punitive" and "protective" force -- and how to discern when force is necessary -- should be required reading for anyone making U.S. foreign policy or policing our streets.
Demanding the ultimate form of responsibility -- and vulnerability -- it's no wonder that, like Chomsky, Rosenberg has received relatively little media and mass attention. Perhaps in future studies, he will further explore the implications of his work -- especially for superstructures such as international relations, institutionalized racism, capital punishment and how his work bridges the spiritual and the political. But meanwhile, with all hype aside, the self-help diva Jack Canfield is probably right: "the principles and techniques in this book can literally change the world."
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am 12. März 1999
In the realm of creating satisfying harmonious human relations and conflict resolution, Rosenberg has done his part with this easy to follow how-to adventure. He has developed a practical spiritual gift toward enjoying powerful but respectful relationships. A simple communication process that eliminates the competitive, adversarial, and violence provocative style of communication that has infected most of our lives. This is not about the meek inheriting the world or being nice docile cogs in our power-over, hierarchical system. It is about the "protective use of force", vulnerability, heart to heart dialogue, and getting our needs meet in a way we will less likely regret. Rosenberg, from his experiences around the world with the communication process he advocates, gives many examples where attempts at compassionate connections have given the parties involved just what they needed in the end, without giving in or giving up. Personally, I value these new tools for getting along in life in harmony with my deepest values, a more natural way to get my point across, without it being heard as a demand but as an opportunity for us to willingly give and receive each other's gifts
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am 30. Juni 1999
This book's a bit misleading: What Rosenberg proposes and suggests is so simple and in a way so obvious that it seems either oversimplified or not necessary to state it. It's when I tried to apply the approaches he suggests I discovered that (a) they're simple, but not always easy to apply because they mean I have to really change and (b) they usually work if I get myself to apply them.
I like things that suggest EXACTLY how to accomplish something rather than ones that one's that talk only about the theory behind things, so this books approach appeals to my concrete mentality as well as my sense of also liking to have a nice theoretical model to wrap things up in.
Don't bother getting the book if you plan to just scan it and put it down -- you'll just waste your money. If you plan to read it and try to apply it then I'd say there's a pretty good chance it could change your life in a way you (and people around you) will like. The principles in this book sure did that for me.
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am 22. Januar 1999
I have applied Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in my relationship with my spouse. Topics that once took 2 to 3 days were handled clearly, thoroughly, honestly and compassionately in less than a half hour. I have used NVC to reflect what I was hearing to a large group in a difficult, seemingly intractable conflict, and this helped them come to a resolution with which all were happy. I have used NVC to mediate in a group of 7 people, and with couples. Good results - but people have to be willing. Perhaps I've benefitted the most from this tool in how I've applied it to my own self-talk - my inner dialog. It's helped me translate judgments and self-criticism, so that I could see what was the life-connected impulse they were coming from. Then it was easy and joyful to change without any "shoulds." I can't say enough good things about my EXPERIENCE with this tool. Try it, you'll like it... and try to see Marshall or another trainer live. Practice groups can be useful too
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am 23. Februar 1999
I read this book on a plane from San Diego to Virginia. I was so enthralled by it that I was disappointed when I arrived at my destination. While reading it I cryed and laughed out loud. It is easy to read and has touching examples that illistrate the principles. Applying the principles to my life and using the easy four-step tool has helped me change old conditioned beliefs and ways of acting. It has allowed me to overcome my toxic conditioning and find the loving parent and person that was locked inside. Reading the book can be the beginning of a journey. Applying the principles to your life will allow you to live fully. Dr. Rosenberg has created a way to transform the violence in the world. Violence begins with language. If we can change our communication, we can change our consciousness. Then we can dance with others and create beauty and harmony instead of war and destruction.
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am 26. Februar 1999
With elegant simplicity Marshall Rosenberg shows how to get our needs met peacefully and effectively by using the language of the heart (compassionate and connecting) rather than of the head (violence provoking). But NVC can be more than a communication process. Marshall wrote in an article, "[the] teaching could be referred to as a spiritual practice in the sense that it is a tool for helping me and others manifest our spiritual commitments in our daily life." The book is a specific "how to do it" manual for real life practice that works even in war zones and prisons. It will truly come alive as a tool if you're able to attend a workshop and experience Marshall's NVC method firsthand (his travel schedule is on the Net).
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