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Nonviolent Communication Workgroup
for Active Life Wellness

(based on the book "Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD)

What are we going to learn?
  • You will learn to better identify, understand, and speak your own emotions and needs. This is the powerful foundation that you will need in order to do the rest.
  • You will learn to let go of [moral] judgment of yourself and others and distinguish between moral and value judgment. This leads to greater acceptance of self, which leads to greater acceptance of others. Life becomes more peaceful.
  • You will practice saying the hard truths in ways that get through and create/nurture connections, getting into a habit of "compassionate honesty".
  • We will practice rephrasing negatives into positives. Learning to ask for what you want rather than what you don't want.
  • You will learn to rephrase dodging of responsibility [power] into claiming of responsibility [power]. For example, shifting your language to more often use phrases like "I choose to" or "I want to" instead of "I have to" or "I should".
  • We will learn to express disagreement in a way that fosters respect.
  • Finally, we will practice identifying the emotions and needs of people around us. How is this useful? When someone presents me with a challenge, I would prefer to ask, "What is their unfulfilled need?" rather than, "Geez what is wrong with this person?" Real listening!


Doing these workgroups over and over, I'm seeing how thought influences words influences thought; a powerful virtuous circle that will increase your sense of courage, inner strength, and peace. For example, if you even just practice leaving out words/phrases that serve moral judgment, eventually, it seeps into your way of thinking and you become less judgmental! At least in test mice.

Seriously: putting NVC into practice in your life, you will begin to find yourself listening to people on an entirely different level. It will become automatic to more often really hear what people are saying [hearing the needs underneath their words] to the point where there is no little voice in your head giving a constant commentary or thinking about what you are going to say. You will find yourself being more curious. More often you may feel like you can read minds, often knowing what people are going to say before they say it. Your connections with people will go deeper, with more trust, understanding, and respect.

Is there homework?

The only homework is to practice what you learn. Unless you live in a cave on Mars, you will find many opportunities in your daily life to do this.

What is the class structure?

We usually begin with me asking if anyone has had a situation (conflict, interaction, etc.) they want to share with the group and/or get group input on. Usually something like:

"Hey everyone I had this experience with my girlfriend where she was saying this and I was saying that and.... "

OR

"We have these meetings at work where my boss goes on and on about this and does that and I'm so bored/angry/frustrated..."

So... anyone who wants can share a story of conflict in their lives that we can, as a group, work on.

The other thing we spend most of our time doing is role playing. We often alternate between the entire group watching as two people role play and other times we get into small groups and role play.

Interruptions. Generally, in our culture it is agreed that interruptions are "rude"; that we always need to allow a person to finish what they are saying. Within this group we will be exploring letting go of that rule with a balance of letting a person say what needs to be said. Number one, because we have limited time and because people will often side track into stories that have no NVC-related value, it will sometimes be necessary to gently interrupt. The other aspect of interruption I want you all to consider is mentioned in the book beginning on page 121, "Empathy to Revive a Lifeless Conversation". This does not mean it is OK to always interrupt; this means sometimes it is useful.

Feedback. Finally, I want to be sure you all know I want feedback! I may not always agree or enjoy hearing what you have to say but most important to me is that you SAY IT!


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