Roberta Wall is a lawyer, mediator, trainer, parent, activist, mindfulness practitioner and coach. She shares her time between the US and the Mideast and travels the world coaching couples, individuals and organizations and facilitating workshops and retreats inspired by Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication (NVC) as developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg and Buddhist teachers Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama, and teachers and rabbis and rebbetzins from her root Jewish tradition.
Roberta offers workshops in service of peaceful resolution of conflict, individual and organizational growth, and community and spiritual development. Her clients and students include individuals, organizations, businesses, communities and families throughout the world. She offers trainings to public and private institutions, networks and organizations, government and social services agencies, lawyers, mediators, schools, doctors and social workers.
4 Cutten Drive
Saugerties, New York 12477
845 246 5935845 246 5935
In Israel 054 883 6970
More articles by Roberta are found at
my email archives
My blog at Times of Israel
My blog at Wordpress
Helping Families, Communities, Organizations and Businesses with Difficult Conversations
Roberta is available to help individuals, families, communities, businesses and organizations have difficult conversations, create infra structures that reflect caring and inclusion of everyone's needs and to guide problem solving, conflict transformation and visioning. She also offers healing sessions inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and Marshall Rosenberg.
Roberta's Facilitation of Public Conversations
What a unique opportunity to learn a new way of talking about such a frought, complex issue. Generally speaking, when talking with others about the situation in Israel, Palestine, and Gaza, the conversation usually takes one of two turns. Either it quickly becomes a shouting match, or one person gets on a speaking platform while the other person waits their turn to talk. Roberta's workshop was nothing like this. Instead, it was an incredible opportunity for me, as a younger Jewish member of the community, to explore how to be more fully present in actually listening to others when they talk. What I got out of this was priceless. For example, I have heard many times the argument that we need to support Israel because "we" (a/k/a World Jewry) will very likely be threatened without its existence. Hearing that argument with my usual ears, it is so easy to dismiss that sentiment as pure paranoia, having absolutely no relevance for assimilated, American Jews of today. What I learned in Roberta's workshop was huge around this. Through the simple process of listening and reflecting back, I connected with a much deeper truth when hearing that same old argument For the first time, I really listened to the feelings behind what the person was saying. I learned that it is not paranoia. There is real concern, caring and deep desire to learn from our mistakes that is at the heart of that argument. I really resonated with that on a deep level. Not only will I take these new listening skills into my personal life, but it also made me feel a lot more deeply connected with the folks in my local community, and with the issue at hand. I would welcome this opportunity again, and I think the world --especially Jews, Israelis, Arabs, and Palestinians - need much more of this kind of practice in deep listening.
Roberta's Work in Jewish Community
by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, Woodstock Jewish Congregation
With clarity and compassion, Roberta Wall brings the fruits of her practice and teaching of Nonviiolent Communication to all manner of groups in the Israeli and Palestinian communities. I have asked Roberta on several occasions to share with us at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation stories of some of her successes and struggles teaching NVC in Israel/Palestine, and I am always moved by her courage, humility, clarity and skill. When she speaks with us, Roberta models the principles she teaches, and it becomes clear that she is offering a rare gift: a truly non-judgmental and open-ended forum in which participants, Israelis and Palestinians in this case, can open themselves to the possibility of transforming their relationship with their adversaries, one person and one heart at a time. I am impressed and encouraged by Roberta’s work. My mother’s favorite quote is “There is no solution; seek it lovingly.” Certainly in the Middle East it appears that there is no “solution”, but Roberta teaches us to nonetheless seek that solution lovingly, and each life she touches is richer for it.
Roberta's Organizational Work in the Mideast
"Roberta Wall is an extraordinarily talented, passionate and dedicated practitioner and teacher of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and her contribution to the launching of the EcoME Centre has been significant.
The EcoME Centre is a unique model for social and environmental sustainability across divides; it is located adjacent to the Jericho – Almog junction. In the first month of its formation, Roberta generously offered to run a 2-day NVC training for the EcoME community. This was an extremely necessary and valuable experience for us. One activity that was especially helpful were the Fish Bowel exercises, where the core group, and the wider circle of EcoME - that were experiencing some separation - where given the opportunity to hear each other’s feelings and needs in a safe and supportive way. In addition we learnt to look at the needs of the organization and individuals from the NVC-needs perspective; this contributed to creative solutions and helped us move EcoME forward, distilling strategies and needs.
More so, two 3-day workshops in NVC and the Building of Inclusive Community were facilitated by Roberta in partnership with Hagit Lifshitz and Hilia Zedaka. In total 120 participants of varying ages (from 15-70 yrs) and backgrounds came to EcoME from across the West Bank and Israel for trainings which included NVC workshops, practice groups, social activities, movement, prayers, and experiences in the desert.
We are extremely happy and grateful for Roberta's work, not only in EcoME but across Palestine and Israel. She is an inspiration to us all, and her capacity to combine such a big compassionate heart with so much skill and wisdom is a special gift. EcoME looks forward to working with Roberta this coming year in co-creating a more sustained NVC training process. We are excited both to be students ourselves, and help others learn this transformative tool, bringing us back the power to choose peace over violence in all levels of our lives.Ilana Meallem, Co-founder EcoME Centre
Roberta's Work with families
“Roberta created a safe place and supportively guided us to be honest and loving and I am happy to report it sent us down a path of closeness again...”
At retreats and workshops:
"As I watched Roberta roll with the different flows of the retreat, I was inspired to let go of the controls a little bit in my own life.”
"At the end of the workshop I realized I saw for the first time that needs need not be in conflict -that I can get my needs met, not at the expense of others getting their needs met. Roberta is a great teacher and, full disclosure, she's my mom!"
"Roberta's skillful coaching helped me to understand the interplay between the thoughts and feelings arising out of my needs and how the choices I make are always attempts to meet those needs."
What is Nonviolent Communication?
From Robert Gonzales: "Nonviolent Communication (NVC) comprises a set of premises and practices that cultivate a living and embodied consciousness of compassion.
At the heart of NVC are human needs. Needs are seen, rather than a lack or deficiency, as that life force/Life moving in and through us seeking fulfillment, aliveness, and wellbeing.
NVC is a process founded on a language and communication, which guides our attention to that which is most human about us. What emerges when this process is lived, is authentic honesty and empathic listening.
Robert's work with sharing NVC has evolved into a deep work of Living Compassion, which points towards the spiritual dimensions of NVC and includes both deeply, transformative inner work as well as intensely practical, in-the-world aspects of inter-personal relationships.
Workshops include demonstrations of integrating compassionate communication and opportunities to practice what is demonstrated in small groups.
Between a stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. The last of human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.
- Viktor Frankl
by Roberta Wall
Yesterday I had about an hour and half to present NVC to fifty teachers at St Joseph’s school in East Jerusalem. The anticipated number of participants had grown from thirteen teachers to fifty, including the principal and school director, after I gave a peace class to senior students on Monday. The students are so excited about NVC; they spread the interest to the teachers and administration. (I love the excitement and receptivity of the teachers and administrators to something the students are excited about.) Read More
To read more of my articles from the Mideast, please go to my blog
and my email archives
Background: After an NVC workshop here, members of this religious community in Israel consulted me as an opportunity to "put NVC into action" when they were upset to see markings on the wall of a newly constructed community facility. The NVC model and consciousness helped us identify and connect to the needs of the community that weren't met by what happened; and then people opened to exploring the needs that the person was wanting to meet by doing what she did. We guessed her needs may have been creativity, self expression and inclusion.
I was deeply moved by the love,openness and willingness of the community members to value her needs. Out of this work together, a new strategy arose- to invite the person to create a beautiful mural in the space.
This is an excerpt from a recent email I received:
After... Rivka (name changed) has started to paint the bathroom in beautiful blues and greens and it looks so far very watery. I look forward to seeing it being completed. I'm so happy that we were able to resolve that situation without anyone being put down, hurt, humiliated, etc.
...Actually, last Rosh Chodesh I hardly was able to go, but the one thing I went to, was Hagit's (NVC) workshop. It was very interesting, especially since I had had a very giraffe/coyote exchange with my husband that I shared. Y.( name changed) had been holding on to all these suits of his father's and they've been in our very small house with it's very limited storage space for over 18 years!! And every year when I was doing Pesach cleaning, I'd beg him to please do something with them, anything, but to get rid of them. Anyway, 18 years later, I said to him, "I assume that you're attached to your father's suits and you don't want to get rid of them, that they are a connection to your father." And of course, he agreed. Two days later, the morning of the rosh chodesh gathering, he announces to me that he's getting rid of the suits and he did!! It was nothing short of a miracle!
Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication With Parents and Children:
"Have to let you know that when my 18-month old was enjoying the sound of slamming the cabinet door this morning I said, "Sawyer, I really need some peace for a little while. Can you help me with that?" He shut the door, sat down, and started to do a puzzle. Crazy! It is much simpler than trying to be patient for 5 minutes and then losing it!"
We dream that all parents everywhere find relief from struggling with their children and have all the support they need to raise their children in accordance with their values. We want to build a society where parents cherish and enjoy time with their children, attend to their own needs for rest, rejuvenation and self-care, and have meaningful and supportive relationships with their significant others. We want to help parents gain the skills to inspire joyful cooperation from their children and teach them the values they hold dear, while forming strong, life-long bonds with them.
With organizations and businesses:
Roberta coaches a start up company in Mysore, India. The construction agreement was stalled until the company representatives used their NVC consciousness and skills to negotiate and connect with the builder. See the News! Page for the video of the celebration!
Send your story to email@example.com
From a Saugerties NVCer:
An ongoing romantic relationship has been helped tremendously by my understanding and practice of Nonviolent Communication. What began as a friendship progressed to a more romantic involvement, then it seemed to revert back to friendship, but then it re-reverted to a more serious yet lighter (if those two attributes can co-exist) romantic relationship. While this back and forth may seem like a recipe for turmoil, it hasn't been that way, and I think the difference has been my understanding of her needs and feelings as well as my own.
I have been able to hear whatever she's said about our involvement with each other as an expression of her own needs. While I was sad at times because I wanted something other than what was, my being clear about what she needed allowed me to simply enjoy what was because I recognized just how many of my needs were being met by the quality of the time we were spending together. The level of communication between us has been deep, and this has been so gratifying and satisfying. My NVC experience has met my need for understanding and communication and connection. I'm excited about this, too!
From Mary Oliver's latest volume, Red Bird, "Invitation":
Oh do you have time
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of
or the most tender?
Their strong blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude–
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life
Late, rainy August. If you are like me, it’s really hard to get motivated to do anything with all this rain. It seems like a metaphor for life- flooded with feelings, stresses, tasks, and I get triggered. I tell myself it’s the rain, the external, and, after a bit of searching, I see it’s the inner weather report that is at the root and that I can direct my inquiry and energy to. Every time. Come deepen our Nonviolent Communication Self Empathy practice- let's look at, and embrace, and find the wisdom of, our internal images and self judgments that are at the root of why we get triggered. Join us in this exploration this September.
August: I've just returned from an NVC Family Camp on
July: This blog entry ends with a new poem from Mary Oliver (scroll down) that unfolds the gift of taking your time. Watching the first mesclun seedlings bravely unfurl from the soil this morning, the ducks linger lazily on the creek- everywhere the world is teaching us to "take your time." And what about in our relationships? In the most precious jewel of intimate and satisfying connection with another human being- what stops us from taking our time to connect? From lingering with the tender shoots of intimacy when our loved ones reveal what is in their hearts- their vulnerability that comes with fear, anger, frustration, love. Sometimes it’s hard to hear the beauty and vulnerability in the message. Whether we step into NVC for business mediation, a conflict with a loved one, self inquiry, or deepening an important relationship, NVC is our ally in learning to take our time to let the tender shoot of connection unfurl.
I’ve been thinking a lot this month about hard –to- hear messages and difficult- to -deliver messages. A friend was telling me the other day about a friend of hers who said to her, “when you do this, you make me feel resentful.” And then I received an email two days ago, that ended with, “ We have been more than accommodating of your requests to date but your behavior is now causing our family a great deal of stress.”
Do you, like me, feel a tightening in your belly just hearing these messages? I know I am triggered as soon as I feel that tightening, and in this triggered state, I am only able to hear one thing - someone blaming another person for the way they feel, holding the other person responsible for how they feel. I’ve lost my mindfulness, my NVC, my aspirations to hear and listen to others with an open heart and compassion.
My exploration of NVC these days is very focused on understanding what happens that sends me to this triggered place? How can I hear a difficult message, and get to the place where I only hear someone saying “please” to me- where I can hear their “please” as a gift to me- the gift of letting me know what is important to them, alive in them, what I could do to make life more wonderful for them. How do I get there from the triggered place, and how can I change my habitual responses so that I go there instead of to the habitually triggered places?
I’d love to hear from you how you are working with these same issues, and whether this speaks to what is important to you in your communication and transformation?
Passover and Nonviolent Communication
Mitzrayim is the word in the Torah for the triggered place- where you go, what happens, when you hear something or see something or think something that sends you into a tight closed place- in ancient Hebrew texts, that place is Mitzrayim- Egypt. Passover is the story and map for how we as individuals and as a people can transform the stuck places inside of us and around us. Pharoah- the inner or outer Pharoah- is stuck, identified with what we call in NVC a life ailenated place- a place where we have stoped up the flow of life, so can't see the other person's aliveness and can't access the place inside ourself where that flow can bring us into connection.
" Liberating your Dream "is an NVC workshop where we work individually, in small groups, and then in the group as a whole, to identify our dream of freedom for ourself, then meet (give empathy to) the inner voices that hold us back from stepping into freedom. And then we put ourselves into connection with the energy of our dream- what we want to do or say, but have been held back by fear or other obstacles.