Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Who is Marshall Rosenberg? What is Nonviolent Communication (NVC)? Why do I believe this simple communication methodology could strongly benefit not only every customer experience professional but also anyone wanting to meaningfully and peacefully interact with someone else?
What is Non-Violent (or compassionate) Communication and why does it matter?
Marshall Rosenberg (October 6, 1934 – February 7, 2015) is the American psychologist who created Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a communication process that “helps people to exchange the information necessary to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully.”
In the past two years, I have followed several NVC training modules from Yoram Mosenzom (Basic, Intermediate & Advanced Training Modules and Mediation Module) and Cara Crisler (NVC applied to Motherhood and Connecting to Children).
I have deep respect for this communication methodology and highly believe in its capability to empower and facilitate real connection to oneself and others. I especially believe that not only it can change the way we live with our family & friends, but also the way we interact with our colleagues and the way contact center professionals deliver customer service & technical support.
Ultimately NVC is about empowering people to acknowledge, express, and understand needs and about empathizing with each other’s needs, so that, instead of getting stuck on our preferred strategy, we can think of creative solutions to meet our respective needs, contributing to making life more wonderful for each other.
This is very close to the vision of customer experience that I want to help companies achieve: a human-needs-driven, happiness-empowered growth, which makes the world a more beautiful and peaceful place for us to live in.
Rosenberg died earlier this year. This post is a collection of some of the most inspiring quotes from Marshall Rosenberg, as a tribute to his work and as inspiration for customer experience professionals working from a place of focusing on customer needs, nurturing happiness, and contributing to life.
This post had been in our drafts for a few weeks already. But after the Paris attacks of November 13th and months of powerlessly witnessing the Syrian refugees’ crisis, publishing felt like my only possible voice and contribution to world’s peace and humanity, because the more people will get familiar with NVC principles and way of communicating, the more hope there is for peaceful resolution of all conflicts and differences.
Ultimately, worrying about delivering exceptional customer experiences becomes trivial and unnecessary in a world where the basic needs of safety (and equality) cannot be met, where people get attacked in the very same places (theatre, restaurants, or stadium) where we strive to deliver remarkable experiences, and where people live in fear. For this reason, I decided to add an extra paragraph “Addressing Terrorism“, with an extract from Marshall Rosenberg’s book “Speak Peace“, because, never more than today peace and safety return to being a necessary foundation for any customer experience, something which, at least in Europe, we had taken for granted since World War II.
Marshall Rosenberg Quotes selection
Quotes about Needs Expression/Understanding
There are no positive or negative emotions, just emotions we feel when our needs are met and emotions we feel when our needs are not met.
Always hear the ‘Yes’ in the ‘No’.
At the root of every tantrum and power struggle are unmet needs.
People do not hear our pain when they believe they are at fault.
Every message, regardless of form or content, is an expression of a need.
Your presence is the most precious gift you can give to another human being.
Always listen to what people need rather than what they are thinking about us.
When we hear the other person’s feelings and needs, we recognize our common humanity.
Understanding the other persons’ needs does not mean you have to give up on your own needs.
When we understand the needs that motivate our own and others’ behavior, we have no enemies.
Our goal is to create a quality of empathic connection that allows everyone’s needs to be met.
In our culture, most of us have been trained to ignore our wants and to discount our needs.
Quotes about Communication
When our communication supports compassionate giving and receiving, happiness replaces violence and grieving!
If we want to make meetings productive, we need to keep track of those whose requests are on the table.
Regardless of our many differences, we all have the same needs. What differs is the strategy for fulfilling these needs.
When people hear needs, it provokes compassion. When people hear diagnoses, it provokes defensiveness and attack.
My ultimate goal is to spend as many of my moments in life as I can in that world that the poet Rumi talks about, ‘a place beyond rightness and wrongness.’
Four D’s of Disconnection: 1. Diagnosis (judgment, analysis, criticism, comparison); 2. Denial of Responsibility; 3. Demand; 4. ‘Deserve’ oriented language.
Labeling and diagnosis is a catastrophic way to communicate. Telling other people what’s wrong with them greatly reduces, almost to zero, the probability that we’re going to get what we’re after.
To practice NVC, it’s critical for me to be able to slow down, take my time, to come from an energy I choose, the one I believe that we were meant to come from, not the one I was programmed into.
Quotes about Empathy
Empathy is presence. Pure presence to what is alive in a person at this moment, bringing nothing in from the past.
We need to receive empathy to give empathy.
The more we empathize with the other party, the safer we feel.
The number one rule of our training is empathy before education.
It may be most difficult to empathize with those we are closest to.
Empathizing with someone’s ‘no’ protects us from taking it personally.
Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.
A difficult message to hear is an opportunity to enrich someone’s life.
Self-empathy in NVC means checking in with your feelings and needs.
It’s harder to empathize with those who appear to possess more power, status, or resources.
Empathy is like riding on a wave; it’s about getting in touch with a certain energy. But the energy is a divine energy that’s alive in every person, at every moment.
Quotes about Learning
Every time I mess up is a chance to practice.
Learning is too precious to be motivated by coercive tactics
Getting in touch with unmet needs is important to the healing process.
Schooling teaches us to dehumanize human beings by thinking of what they are rather than what they need.
Postpone result/solution thinking until later; it’s through connection that solutions materialize – empathy before education.
We recognize that real educational reform is essential if today’s and tomorrow’s children are to live in a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
Quotes about Anger
It isn’t what people do that makes us angry. It’s something within us that responds to what they do
Anger is a gift, challenging us to connect to the unmet needs that have triggered this reaction
Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger.
Anger is the result of life-alienated ways of evaluating what is happening to us
What others do may be the stimulus of our feelings, but never the cause.
The cause of anger lies in our thinking – in thoughts of blame and judgment
Violence comes from the belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment.
We are never angry because of what others say or do; it is a result of our own ‘should’ thinking.
Quotes about Judgment & Conflict
Translate all self-judgments into self-empathy.
When we judge others we contribute to violence.
Classifying and judging people promotes violence.
Empathy lies in our ability to be present without opinion.
Expressing our vulnerability can help resolve conflicts.
Judgments of others contribute to self-fulfilling prophecies.
Marshall Rosenberg Addressing Terrorism (extract from “Speak Peace“)
<<Many people have asked me how we can use NVC to address terrorism. For starters, we need to get rid of images of terrorists and freedom fighters. As long as we are thinking of the other side as terrorists and ourselves as freedom fighters, we’re part of the problem. Then we need to empathize with what was alive in these people when they did what they did that’s so frightening and hurtful to us—and to see what human needs they were trying to meet by doing it. Until we can empathically connect with that, whatever actions we take are likely to come out of an energy that’s going to create more violence. Now, with regard to the people who have done things we call “terrorism,“ I’m confident they have been expressing their pain in many different ways for thirty years or more. Instead of our empathically receiving it when they expressed it in much gentler ways—they were trying to tell us how hurt they felt that some of their most sacred needs were not being respected by the way we were trying to meet our economic and military needs—they got progressively more agitated. Finally, they got so agitated that it took horrible form. Instead of thinking of them as terrorists, we need to empathize. So that’s the first thing. Instead of thinking of them as terrorists, we need to empathize. Many people hear that as saying terrorism is OK—that we should just smile and act like it’s OK to kill thousands of people. Not at all! After we empathize, we need to make clear what our pain is, what needs of ours weren’t met by their actions. And if we can have that connection with these people, we can find a way to get everybody’s needs met peacefully. But if we label them as terrorists and then try to punish them for being terrorists, we already see what we’re going to get. Violence creates more violence.>>
What about you? Were you already familiar with Rosenberg NVC?
Which of Marshall Rosenberg’s quotes most resonates with you?
Can you imagine a world where everyone would be using this communication language?
Share your insight with us in the comments.
* Sharing is happiness. If our message resonates with you, please help us share it. Let’s start building together the world we wish to live in. Thank you! #YellowFactor #HappinessDrivenGrowth
** If you would like to know more about how to pursue Happiness Driven Growth in your company or would like us to deliver an engaging talk about NVC or an HCX masterclass at your company, get in touch or simply follow Rosaria Cirillo on LinkedIn & Instagram to receive her inspirational DOSE of Happiness.
*** Our new book Yellow Factor – including insights about how NVC has been applied in contact center training – is available for sales on Amazon/Kindle. Find links to your local Amazon store here.
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