Book Notes - Nonviolent Communication by Marhsall B. Rosenberg

- 63 mins

The Book in Three Sentences

Non-Violent Communication (NVC) is a practice that is has four components: 1. observations 2. feelings 3. needs 4. requests. To communicate using NVC, we observe without evaluating, we identify and expressing feelings without over-analyzing, we accept needs without judging, and finally, we make requests using positive language. Following these principles highlighted in the book, one can have deeper meaningful relationships not only with others but also with oneself.

Nonviolent Communication (A Language of Life) Chapter Notes and Summary

My notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts. This summary also includes key lessons and important passages from each chapter in the book. The passages in italics are highlights on highlights and the ones in bold resonated with me the most.

1 Giving From the Heart

A Way to Focus Attention

The NVC Process

Applying NVC in Our Lives and the World

2 Communication That Blocks Compassion

Moralistic Judgments

Making Comparisons

Denial of Responsibility

Other Forms of Life-alienating Communication

**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.*

3 Observing Without Evaluating

**I can handle your telling me what I did or didn’t do. And I can handle your interpretations, but please don’t mix the two. If you want to confuse any issue, I can tell you how to do it: Mix together what I do with how you react to it. Tell me that you’re disappointed with the unfinished chores you see, But calling me “irresponsible” is no way to motivate me. And tell me that you’re feeling hurt when I say “no” to your advances, But calling me a frigid man won’t increase your future chances. Yes, I can handle your telling me what I did or didn’t do, And I can handle your interpretations, but please don’t mix the two.—Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD*

**I’ve never seen a lazy man; I’ve seen a man who never ran while I watched him, and I’ve seen a man who sometimes slept between lunch and dinner, and who’d stay at home upon a rainy day, but he was not a lazy man. Before you call me crazy, think, was he a lazy man or did he just do things we label “lazy”?*

Distinguishing Observations From Evaluations

4 Identifying and Expressing Feelings

The Heavy Cost of Unexpressed Feelings

Feelings versus Non-feelings

Building a Vocabulary for Feelings

Exercise 2: Expressing Feelings

5 Taking Responsibility for Our Feelings

**Taking Responsibility for Our Feelings People are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them.—Epictetus*

Hearing a Negative Message: Four Options

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

The Needs at the Roots of Feelings

**Judgments of others are alienated expressions of our own unmet needs.*

The Pain of Expressing Our Needs versus the Pain of Not Expressing Our Needs

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

From Emotional Slavery to Emotional Liberation

**From Emotional Slavery to Emotional Liberation*

NVC in Action: “Bring Back the Stigma of Illegitimacy!”

6 Requesting That Which Would Enrich Life

Using Positive Action Language

**we get depressed because we’re not getting what we want, and we’re not getting what we want because we have never been taught to get what we want. Instead, we’ve been taught to be good little boys and girls and good mothers and fathers. If we’re going to be one of those good things, better get used to being depressed. Depression is the reward we get for being “good.”*

**Yes, it can be difficult to make clear requests. But think how hard it will be for others to respond to our request if we’re not even clear what it is!*

Making Requests Consciously

Asking for a Reflection

Requesting Honesty

Making Requests of a Group

Requests versus Demands

Defining Our Objective When Making Requests

7 Receiving Empathically

Presence: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

**Instead of offering empathy, we tend instead to give advice or reassurance and to explain our own position or feeling. Empathy, on the other hand, requires us to focus full attention on the other person’s message.*

Listening for Feelings and Needs

**Listen to what people are needing rather than what they are thinking.*


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

Sustaining Empathy

When Pain Blocks Our Ability to Empathize

NVC in Action: A Wife Connects with Her Dying Husband

Exercise 5: Receiving Empathically versus Non-empathically

8 The Power of Empathy

Empathy That Heals

Empathy and the Ability to Be Vulnerable

Using Empathy to Defuse Danger

Empathy in Hearing Someone’s “No!”

Empathy to Revive a Lifeless Conversation

**People are not aware that empathy is often what they are needing.*

Empathy for Silence

9 Connecting Compassionately with Ourselves

Remembering the Specialness of What We Are

Evaluating Ourselves When We’ve Been Less Than Perfect

Translating Self-judgments and Inner Demands

NVC Mourning


The Lesson of the Polka-dotted Suit

Don’t Do Anything That Isn’t Play!

Translating “Have to” to “Choose to”

Cultivating Awareness of the Energy behind Our Actions

10 Expressing Anger Fully

Distinguishing Stimulus From Cause

**Anger is a result of life-alienating thinking that is disconnected from needs. 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.*

All Anger Has a Life-serving Core

Stimulus versus Cause: Practical Implications

Four Steps to Expressing Anger

Offering Empathy First

Taking Our Time

Human Connection

NVC Conflict Resolution versus Traditional Mediation

On Needs, Strategies, and Analysis

Empathy to Ease the Pain That Prevents Hearing

Using Present and Positive Action Language to Resolve Conflict

Using Action Verbs

NVC and the Mediator Role

Informal Mediation: Sticking Our Nose in Other People’s Business

12 The Protective Use of Force

The Thinking behind the Use of Force

Types of Punitive Force

**Fear of corporal punishment obscures children’s awareness of the compassion underlying their parents’ demands.*

The Costs of Punishment

Two Questions That Reveal the Limitations of Punishment

**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?*

The Protective Use of Force in Schools

13 Liberating Ourselves and Counseling Others

Resolving Internal Conflicts

Caring for Our Inner Environment

Replacing Diagnosis with NVC

NVC in Action: Dealing with Resentment and Self-judgment

14 Expressing Appreciation in NVC

The Intention behind the Appreciation

The Three Components of Appreciation

Receiving Appreciation

The Hunger for Appreciation

Overcoming the Reluctance to Express Appreciation

The Four-Part Nonviolent Communication Process

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