Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD and Deepak Chopra
Published September 1, 2015
About Nonviolent Communication
An enlightening look at how peaceful communication can create compassionate connections with family, friends, and other acquaintances, this international bestseller uses stories, examples, and sample dialogues to provide solutions to communication problems both at home and in the workplace. Guidance is provided on identifying and articulating feelings and needs, expressing anger fully, and exploring the power of empathy in order to speak honestly without creating hostility, break patterns of thinking that lead to anger and depression, and communicate compassionately. Included in the new edition is a chapter on conflict resolution and mediation.
Okay, so I mentioned before that more than one person has recommended this book to me. First, someone in a book club discussed it when the group read a different book on communication. Then a childhood friend brought it up. We had been talking about resolving conflict and trying to talk about difficult emotions. I tend to use a lot of what Dr. Rosenberg calls “evaluating and diagnosing language” when I talk. I think that’s what made my friend think of this book. Another friend recommended it kind of out of the blue just as a good book to read for communicating needs.
Anyway, it seemed like three recommendations from three unrelated places was plenty of reason to pick up NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION. So I did.
I listened to the audiobook first. Then, I ordered a hard copy so that I could see some of the content and exercises in print. Though I haven’t done the exercises myself yet, I would like to try them. I can see how they would be helpful for me.
One thing I liked about the book is when Dr. Rosenberg offered examples in which other people adopted nonviolent communication. He showed the impact on the conflict or situation they were in. He tells a fair number of examples of what not to do usually based on him guiding people who aren’t using nonviolent communication. Sometimes those got kind of old to me? They sometimes came across like, “Listen while I tell more stories about how silly people are and how smart I am.” Sometimes those stories were really helpful, though.
I like that this way of communicating really boils down to some simple ideas. Describe what happened. State how it made you feel and why the situation didn’t meet a need you have. Ask for a different behavior that would meet that need. Alternately, sometimes simply listening with empathy opens a path through a conflict. I liked the way he broke down how to do that as well.
Another thing that stood out to me is that when we’re faced with a situation where we aren’t able to listen with empathy, that’s a red flag. We need to respond by taking a step back, get some needs met for ourselves first. And then return to try again to listen with empathy. It’s not that I’ve never heard anything like that before, but maybe more that I felt like Dr. Rosenberg qualified that process in a more specific and clear way than I’d heard in other places.
I read some reviews about NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION before picking up the book. A few point out that the book contains a lot of anecdotal evidence and not research, which is true. There are a couple of stories in the book in which women who have been attacked use empathic listening to deescalate the situation they’re in. I thought those were both really powerful. But I also wish there had been some clarifying response after those stories talking about personal safety. Another thing I would have liked is some guidance about using nonviolent communication in situations of abuse or danger. I would have liked for him to clarify when to withdraw or get additional help.
On the whole, though, I’m really glad I read the book, and I’m eager to try to put its principles into practice in my life to see how it affects some of the relationships I have.
Content Notes for Nonviolent Communication
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Dr. Rosenberg himself is Jewish and speaks about encountering antisemitism.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
A man approaches a woman and demands that she undress. She uses nonviolent communication to deescalate the situation and he ends up stealing her purse instead of raping her.
A man asks Dr. Rosenberg’s grandmother for food, saying he is Jesus the Lord. Dr. Rosenberg shares a poem he wrote about his Jewish grandmother’s love for others. He writes that her caring for this man taught him about Jesus.
A man attacks a woman, shoving her to the ground and holding a knife to her throat. She uses nonviolent communication to deescalate the situation and is able to calm him down enough to get help.
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