c/o Roberta Wall, 272 Lakewood Dr, Asheville, NC 28803     
845 853 4788 
The Life Practice of Nonviolent Communication

NVC  is a transformational life practice.  There is a common life force that moves through all of us, through all life. Some call it Divine Energy or flow; some call it life energy. It is what we mean when we talk about core needs and values in NVC. NVC offers us a door to living in awareness and connection with that energy and flow- it speaks to the longing in all of us to communicate from the depth of our authenticity and to meet the other person in their depth of authenticity. Various tools and practices from NVC remind us to touch that authenticity from which we are trying to communicate. The consciousness and skills of NVC show us how to connect  with what is alive in ourselves and in others moment-to-moment, with what we or others could do to make life more wonderful, and with an awareness of what gets in the way of natural giving and receiving.

Sample of Workshops Available

with Roberta Wall

This is a day of integrating mindfulness meditation and teaching and practicing Nonviolent Communication within the framework of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh's Mindfulness Training on Deep Listening and Loving Speech           click here

Contemplating Elul- Inner Preparation for the High Holidays with Roberta Wall
NVC, also known as Compassionate Communication, provides concrete and doable ways for us to connect deeply with ourselves and others as we deepen our Elul preparation.  Free and open to everyone;you may join us for Shabbat morning services at 10 and a light vegetarian potluck lunch at 12, or just join us at 1 for the workshop.

Background on Roberta's integration of Judaism into Mindfulness:

Article on Judaism and Mindfulness; my deep connection to Elat Chayyim, where I return for a week retreat with NVC, mindfulness and Judaism

Bringing Peace into Our Communities
Resolving Conflict with Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
By Roberta Wall
          Connection First: Resolving our differences with deep listening to needs behind the strategies.

   I am exploring joining a co housing community in the Hudson Valley of New York. At last week’s meeting an issue came up, that turned out to stir up a lot of emotion  - garages for our cars. Some members stated that they want their own garage close to their house; other members said they value living in a community where cars are not near the houses and that garages are something they are in co housing to get away from. The conflict was not far away. Fortunately, I was able to bring NVC into the conversation and start building connection with people who wanted the opposite of what I did.

In the discussion, we focused on sorting out the strategy of having or not having a garage from the beautiful needs underlying each group's position. In NVC, we say that needs, or values, are our universal life energies; and that needs are never in conflict- conflict arises when we become attached to our strategies to meet underlying needs.

    Having or not having a garage is a strategy. Garages are important to some people (including me!) as ways to meet needs for ease and physical safety. We live in a climate where winter often means months of ice and freezing temperatures.  I notice that as I grow older, I do not enjoy facing mounds of snow on my car and negotiating icy patches when I am carrying groceries.  Having a warm, enclosed, attached place for my car meets my needs for ease and safety, core universal human needs.

People who don’t want garages near the houses said they want to live where their children can play without risking injury from cars. Others expressed concerns that garages attached to houses are hazardous to the air inside the houses. And several people expressed concern that having some houses with garages and others without will create a privileged class in the community. I’m guessing that they are wanting to meet their needs for  their children’s and all of our wellbeing, as well as needs for harmony, health, peace, and integrity. Harmony, health, integrity, wellbeing of our loved ones and peace also are core, universal human needs, life energies we all share.

NVC teaches us that by focusing on the needs we all share, we can create connection, even when we disagree on a strategy. Here is a three-step process we all could use in any situation when there is a disagreement on the strategies.

Step 1- Identifying any Enemy images (Judgments) I may have that are Obstacles to Compassionate Listening

     How can I truly hear what is important to the other people? First, I need to let go of what we call in NVC enemy images of the other person- a fixed idea about them that comes from a judgment or diagnosis of them. When I noticed that my heart was closed to considering the possibility of welcoming the other person’s strategy, I looked inside myself deeply and saw that I was judging some of them as “people who aren’t sensitive to the needs of the aging members.” Or “people who aren’t listening.”  This judgment - “people who are XYZ”- is a fixed notion of them, and it creates distance and separation between us. I realized that to let go of this enemy image I needed to give myself a little self empathy.

Step 2 - Self empathy

Speaking to myself: When I heard them say what they said, felt disappointed, scared and frustrated because I deeply want my needs for safety and ease to be valued, truly valued. I want a community where my needs for safety and ease are accepted. Ahhhh. I want acceptance. Yes, I want to be seen for what’s important to me and accepted. I want safety and care in community. Phew!! Lots of needs were hiding behind that enemy image.

  Ok, now that I’m in touch with my own needs, I feel my body relax and I can open to hear their needs. I can let go of the enemy image of them now that I am connected to and accepting of my own needs.

Step 3- Choose Either Offering Empathy or Honestly Expressing

After I have let go of the enemy image, I have a choice: I can either express honestly what’s alive in me (pretty much saying out loud the above self empathy), or listen empathically to the other people, listening for what’s important to them. I usually choose listening because I love experiencing myself listening with an open heart and mind and it’s more effective in creating the quality of connection I really want, especially when we are considering living in community together. And I love the shared place where we can enter into dialogue in which both sides are connecting to their own feelings and needs.

     So I can guess the feelings and needs behind what I heard as their enemy images: “When you say that having garages will create class differences, are you scared and disappointed because you want to create a community where we all share common values of the environment and lifestyle?  Or, maybe are you wary because you really want to trust that we are creating a community where we have a shared reality about these issues? {I imagine lots of empathy needed here.} Are you longing for mutuality and sharing of resources?”

Going back and forth in this way, each person gets to honestly express what is important to them about their strategy and feel heard and understood.  Once each group understands the others' needs, the energy changes; people let go of judgments they may have of the other side. Out of this process of listening to what is important to the other,  a strategy to meet everyone's needs will emerge. It will not be a compromise where needs are "sacrificed", but a resolution that addresses what is important to everyone.

After hearing what was important to me about not trudging through snow drifts from my home to car, one person shared that we could create a community support where people are available to carry things for each other. Another talked about us getting a golf cart to run between cars and houses and enlisting the younger people in the community to help clear snow off cars. As I reflect now on these suggestions, I feel hopeful to continue exploring other strategies for meeting my needs for safety, support, ease and comfort. I also connect with how deeply I too value car free living and environmentally sustainable living. I feel hopeful that in co housing we may be able to meet the needs of ease as well as living simpler and safer and create a community in which everyone’s needs matter.

  NVC Resources             

The websites and resources below are a small sampling of the richness and variety of contribution that the Nonviolent Communication community is making to create peace within ourselves and peace in the world. Roberta Wall offers workshops and retreats in the basics of NVC. In retreat settings and private practice, Roberta also brings NVC into Mindfulness practices, Jewish practices and Buddhist practices. Roberta brings her 20 years experience as a lawyer, including six years presiding over hundreds of settlement conferences in New York State Supreme Court, to mediation skills grounded in Nonviolent Communication.

Nonviolent Communication Is . . . ?

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is sometimes referred to as compassionate communication. Its purpose is to strengthen our ability to inspire compassion from others and to respond compassionately to others and to ourselves. NVC guides us to reframe how we express ourselves and hear others by focusing our consciousness on what we are observing, feeling, needing, and requesting.

We are trained to make careful observations free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us. We learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others, and to identify and clearly articulate what we are wanting in a given moment. When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed, rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC fosters respect, attentiveness and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.

While it is taught through the use of a concrete model, and is referred to as “a process of communication” or a “language of compassion,” Nonviolent Communication is more than a process or a language. As our cultural conditioning often leads our attention in directions unlikely to get us what we want, NVC serves as an ongoing reminder to focus our attention on places that have the potential to yield what we are seeking—a flow between ourselves and others based on a mutual giving from the heart.

Founded on language and communication skills that enable us to remain human, even under trying conditions, Nonviolent Communication contains nothing new: all that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries. The intent is to remind us about what we already know—about how we humans were meant to relate to one another—and to assist us in living in a way that concretely manifests this knowledge.

The use of NVC does not require that the persons with whom we are communicating be literate in NVC or even motivated to relate to us compassionately. If we stay with the principles of NVC, with the sole intention to give and receive compassionately, and do everything we can to let others know this is our only motive, they will join us in the process and eventually we will be able to respond compassionately to one another. While this may not happen quickly, it is our experience that compassion inevitably blossoms when we stay true to the principles and process of Nonviolent Communication.

adapted from Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Published by PuddleDancer Press, available from CNVC

See also: The Spiritual Basis of Nonviolent Communication English or Las Bases Espirituales de la Comunicación No Violenta español


Highlight on Mediation-NVC Style

                By Roberta Wall
      I was a single parent of two young daughters in 1986 when I graduated from New York University School of Law.  I was awarded a  Root Tilden Scholarship for my commitment to social change.  I then practiced law in New York City for many years before moving up to the Hudson Valley. My pratice in New York included tenure as an Arbitrator in Small Claims Court in Brooklyn and standing in for a Supreme Court Justice for over six years  to preside over hundreds of litigation and settlement conferences in New York State Supreme Court . Often, lawyers and judges joked that if all sides to a litigation were unhappy with a settlement, it meant we had done a good job- that no one had won.

             "May I be heard"  is how lawyers often ask the Judge in the courtroom for permission to speak.  The litigants-the parties to the  litigation- don't get to ask that question. It's rare for a party to a litigation to walk out of the courtroom feeling satisfied that she or he has been heard. Ironically,  the desire to be heard is often one of the main motivations for commencing a law suit.
            Today, I am celebrating that I am offering a  new  form of mediation where the model is that everyone's needs are heard and  met- no one wins because no one loses. This is mediation based on the principles of Nonviolent Communication.

            When I offer  NVC mediation, I serve as a "thirdsider"; an impartial party who coaches each side in a dispute to undertand what is important to them and then to hear what is important to the other side-not to agree or disagree with the other side- but to listen and hear what is important to them.  Each side gets to do this equally, as I track the positions of each side and create an atmosphere where listening takes place. When each side has been heard, we open up the space to problem solving- how can each side get what is important to them?  This is not about compromising or giving up or giving in. Sometimes I meet separately with each side first , to help each side understand what is important to them. Sometimes we begin all together. Here's how the process works:
  1. I listen to each party speak, one at a time and I listen for your needs; I try to reflect back to you the needs I hear you expressing. By needs I mean the common human values alive in you, maybe hidden behind judgments.

  2. You are  the final authority for how your words are heard, so, after I reflect back to you what I heard, I ask you  to let me know if I’ve understood your needs.  Once you are satisfied that I have heard and understood,your needs, we go to the next step.

  3. I ask the other party, who has been listening, to reflect back the needs that he or she heard you express. We're not asking them to agree or disagree with you; just to repeat back to you what they heard you say.

  4. We continue doing this until each person is satisfied that what is important to them has been heard by the other side; this is accomplished by each person hearing the other side repeat their words; by each side actually repeating back the important needs that the other person has stated.

  5. Then we begin problem solving until each side is satisfied that what is important to them is accomplished.

10 Things We Can Do To Contribute To Internal, Interpersonal, and Organizational Peace

(1)Spend some time each day quietly reflecting on how we would like to relate to ourselves and others.
(2)Remember that all human beings have the same needs.
(3)Check our intention to see if we are as interested in others getting their needs met as our own.
(4)When asking someone to do something, check first to see if we are making a request or a demand.
(5)Instead of saying what we DON'T want someone to do, say what we DO want the person to do.
(6)Instead of saying what we want someone to BE, say what action we'd like the person to take that we hope will help the person be that way.
(7)Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone's opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.
(8)Instead of saying “No,” say what need of ours prevents us from saying “Yes.”
(9)If we are feeling upset, think about what need of ours is not being met, and what we could do to meet it, instead of thinking about what's wrong with others or ourselves.
(10) Instead of praising someone who did something we like, express our gratitude by telling the person what need of ours that action met.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) would like there to be a critical mass of people using Nonviolent Communication language so all people will get their needs met and resolve their conflicts peacefully.

© 2001, revised 2004 Gary Baran & CNVC
The right to freely duplicate this document is hereby granted.