Nonviolent Communication

The giraffe is the land animal with the largest heart and the longest neck so it can see a long way …past the small stuff.


What is NVC?

Nurturing Verbal Communication (‘NVC’),
which originated from Nonviolent Communication, is a profound step in being able to first understand ourselves and then others, regardless of the words being spoken.

Nurturing Verbal Communication has evolved from…

  • Marshall Rosenberg’s Compassionate Communication model, ‘NVC’
  • ‘The Secret’ – a movie about The Law of Attraction – how we are responsible for our thinking and intentions
  • John Gray’s book, ‘Mars and Venus’- showing that Women and Men think differently

NVC training model uses empathy and honesty. You will learn skills for making yourself very clear and resolving conflicts by focusing on a process of observations, feelings, thoughts, needs and requests. Permanent improvement in your life will then be achieved by taking supportive action.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Who can it help?


Are you looking for anger management?

Do you have family conflicts or teenager problems?

Have you ever found yourself struggling to be understood, or saying things you later regret?

Would you like to express yourself in a way that honours other people, as well as being true to yourself?

Do you feel frustrated because your partner or work colleague does not hear or understand you?

The aim of the NVC model is that everyone gets their needs met peacefully and finds joy in helping others to do the same. These life-affirming skills are now being taught around the world to parents, educators, diplomats, police, peace activists, prison officials and inmates, in companies and in schools.

How does NVC work?

To speak or not to speak… is that the question?

Most of us find it hard to say exactly what we want to say, without blame or criticism sneaking in. We long to be heard and to understand what others really want; to experience a quality of communication that improves our quality of life with our needs being met.

We may have the conditioned habit of not saying what we really want to say, or saying what we think the other wants to hear. Often, what we don’t say affects relationships as much, or more than what we do say! Unexpressed feelings and needs leave our partner or colleague in the dark about what is really going on between us.

Rather than deciding whether to speak or not to speak, NVC shows how and when to speak.

What are the Steps?

The following steps of NVC give us a framework with which to overcome our habitual combative responses and instead, to communicate compassionately, in order to connect with honesty and clarity.


To avoid misunderstandings, we start by getting clear about what actually happened. That means expressing a clear observation without evaluation or judgement, just as a video camera would see and hear it.

Love is teh glue that holds everything together.

Love is the glue that holds everything together.
Art by Esther. Photo by Nadia M.


When we communicate how we feel and are interested in how others feel, we connect on a level deeper than when we are just talking about the weather.

NVC teaches the difference between feelings like, sad, happy, worried or frustrated, and feelings that are actually interpretations of another person such as… misunderstood, neglected, betrayed, abandoned, rejected, or manipulated. These interpretations are really what we THINK the other person is doing to us, not our own feeling.

Statements that begin with, “I feel like…”, or “I feel that…..”, or “I feel you….” are also thoughts not feelings.


Another trigger for how we feel can be what we keep on thinking. For example, if our thoughts are constantly, “I’m useless”, it won’t take long before we feel depressed.

Whatever we think about and focus on is what we attract into our lives – good or bad. We are the masters of our own thoughts and can choose them.

As we learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, they can be used constructively, with powerful intention, so we harmonise with the Law of Attraction.

Learning to understand that men and women think differently can help prevent many misunderstandings and expectations.

What you believe about your self, the whole world believes.

Renee Prinsloo


All humans share key needs for survival: drink (hydration), food (nutrition), sleep (rest), shelter (safety) and companionship (connection). We also share other needs like acceptance, certainty, integrity, equality and understanding, to varying degrees in a given moment.

When our needs are met, we feel content. When they are not met, we feel uncomfortable, or stressed in some way. Learning to recognise our needs, helps us understand why we feel the way we do.

It is only by meeting the spiritual needs, that you will experience sustainable joy versus momentary pleasure.

Anthony Robbins


Once we have recognised the negative feeling and its related unmet need, the next step is to make a request, rather than a demand, for what would support those needs getting met. Expressing our need and making the request, gives the other person a chance to make a positive difference in our wellbeing. People naturally enjoy contributing to others, when they can do so, willingly.

If we express ourselves to others in this way–using observation, feelings, needs and requests– we are more likely to get our needs met, than if we use our habitual ways of attacking, demanding or defending.

“To truly understand another, you need to first walk a mile in their shoes.”
Native American Proverb

Understanding empathy

1/3rd Empathic Listening, 1/3rd Self Empathy, 1/3rd Self ExpressionWhen we hear someone speak who is emotionally upset in any way, what they need first and foremost is to have their feelings and needs deeply heard without judgement. Empathy is deep understanding that is brought about by being present and focussing all our attention on the other (putting our own feelings and needs on ‘hold’ during this time).

We then guess the feelings and needs of the other, and ask if this is what is going on, or confirm those feelings and needs expressed, by reflecting them back. Connecting like this helps us to understand what’s going on inside that person.

When all the feelings and needs are expressed, we will often hear or see some indication of relief, like a sigh or relaxation. Then we can move on to what their requests might be, to help them meet their needs.

Only then, can we offer to the other person the opportunity to hear how it is for us–our own observations, feelings, needs and requests about that mutual situation.

Self – Empathy

Sometimes we are triggered by what another says or does, to such a degree that we feel overwhelmed and likely therefore, to slip into our old habitual ways of reacting. This is when we need to take a breath and apply some self-empathy. Giving ourselves time to cool off allows the cortisol made by the fight or flight response to be reabsorbed. Then we can come back to the person and communicate more calmly.

Doing self-empathy we can watch and listen to our judgements and interpretations of the other, then apply the NVC process to our selves. What actually happened (observation)? What do I feel and need? What’s my request of myself?


If there is a repeating pattern of an issue, then it is worth taking further action and seeking help–with Kinesiology, for example–to clear the cause of that pattern.

How to learn NVC Compassionate Communication skills

Love Stone by Esther Kivi Photo by Nadia M.

Solid as a Rock.
Carved by Esther. Photo by Nadia M.

The best way to learn these skills is to attend an interactive workshop. This can be geared for ‘in house’ staff training, school teachers, parents, councillors or any group. Regardless of our walk of life, we all have the same challenge to communicate and connect with others.

In the NVC Workshop, we learn and practice expressing ourselves, giving others empathy, and self-empathy (understanding why we are upset). We put it all together, to see how it works in a real situation, using role-play.

NVC Workshops are a safe environment for personal growth that will be supportive, informal and challenging. The format includes light-hearted presentation, demonstration, experiential exercises, fun activities, discussion and working in small groups. The two-day Workshop can lead to creating groups for further practice.

The quality of my life is the quality of my communication.

Anthony Robbins

Go on – take that step, learn some communication skills and have better relationships.

Behind every criticism there is an unmet need.

Marshall Rosenberg

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