Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg

Marshall B. Rosenberg (Photo WIKI-Commons)

Did you ever ask yourself, “What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature, leading us to behave violently?“ or “What allows some people to stay connected to their compassionate nature under even the most trying circumstances?”

Marshall B. Rosenberg did that, even dedicating his life to the exploration and invention what we know today as nonviolent communication.

The linked IM Campus Webinar below honors his work by spreading and teaching what he discovered. It is based on the book “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall B. Rosenberg and other of his works, as well as the experiences of Francesca Francese as an expert in nonviolent communication.



A Language of Life

Nonviolent communication can act as a fundamental part of conflict resolution and healthy relationships. Therefore, it is not only for mediators and conflict resolution professionals but ultimately for anyone who wants to live in peace. To put it in the words of Marshall B. Rosenberg, “Speak peace in a world of conflict. What you say next will change your world.”

Hence, don’t be afraid of what might expect you. Nonviolent communication is very easy to explain and understand. However, for it to be a life-changing paradigm, it takes a lot of commitment and effort to implement it into your private or professional life.

As Francesca Francese puts it, “You don’t know your nonviolent communication unless you put yourself in the game and practice it.”

The best thing is: With reading this article and watching the webinar you are already taking the best first steps on this lifelong journey to learn and train not any other tool for your toolkit.


Four Components of Nonviolent Communication

In the webinar, you will hear and see about the basis of nonviolent communication: the four components of nonviolent communication.

  1. Observation vs. Judgement: To express what is alive in us, we need a vocabulary, a particular kind of linguistic competence. This is the basis for internal and external observations and crucial to overcome moralistic judgements, comparisons and denying responsibility. It is necessary to separate own judgements that could be biased by certain experiences and descriptions. This helps to overcome judgements black or white and achieve evaluations with more sofistication.
  2. Identifying and expressing feelings: In nonviolent communication the term “feeling” includes physical sensations, emotions, and feelings. In this, the ability to pinpoint what you exactly feel – a vocabulary of your inner processes – is crucial again.
  3. Needs: They are the most basic and level human connection, shared by everyone. Therefore, needs are a shared basis for communication and conflict resolution.
  4. Request for Action: Your request for resolving the conflict or situation must be accurate, precise, and kind. In nonviolent communication does not allow the use of generalizations


About Wolfs and Giraffes: symbols of communication

When it comes to nonviolent communication, Marshall B. Rosenberg often used the analogy of wolfs vs. giraffes.

The language of the wolfs is the language of rulership. It can be seen as a source of violence and a communication of alienation. Wolfs are always on the lookout for blame and try to make judgements about others. Expressions of wolf language are evaluations, demands, criticism, punishments, threats, and manipulation, but also analyses, interpretation, compliments, praises, and rewards. These compliments, praises and rewards however are formulated as violent as criticism and manipulations because the underlying message always is that the wolf knows how the other person is. Their perception of justice is built on reward and punishment, as well as heavily relying on orders and the abidance and denial of responsibility. It is the result of failed trying to express (unconscious) needs.

nonviolent communication wulf and giraffe

Wulf and giraffe. Two ways to communicate.

The language of the giraffe on the other hand is the language of the land animal with the biggest heart. It’s a vital communication, a communication by heart, a communication that relies on empathy and separates observation from judgement. We are respecting and paying attention to the feelings and underlying needs of others as well as our own. Giraffe language does not know pigeonhole thinking or shifting the responsibility of our actions on others. Tendering yourself is the premise for possibly tendering others. Active listening to oneself and others is the key for developing sustainable relationships – if you do it, it further lays the foundation that others will do the same. Negative, violent communication must be converted into something constructive.

To successfully use nonviolent communication, you must master the core of it, the two directions:

  1. Listening from the heart
  2. Speaking from the heart

This will only be possible if you act and think like a giraffe. In addition, the influence of psychological aspects like empathy or personality should not be forgotten.



“When […] someone really hears you without passing judgement on you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good! […] When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to reperceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens, how confusions that seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.” – Carl Rogers

In empathy lies the potential to be a door opener and to heal. By e.g., staying vulnerable by expressing our feelings, by speaking from the heart we can lay the foundation for the realization of common (humane) qualities – to see what lies behind the words. In this empathizing with the other side lies the qualities to feel safer the stronger it gets.

Moreover, empathy can act in a comparable manner to refresh a deadlocked conversation, defuse potential violence, or influence the perception of the word “no” to not seeing it as a rejection. It even effects nonverbal communication: Empathy even allows us to sense feelings and needs through silence.

Nonviolent Communication in Conflict Resolution and Mediation

“My experience has taught me that it’s possible to resolve just about any conflict to everybody’s satisfaction.” – Marshall B. Rosenberg

To resolve conflicts with the help of nonviolent communication, it is crucial to create a human connection between the people in dispute. This may take some patience, as well as commitment and willingness establish and follow the nonviolent communication principles. Because when you can make this connection, the problem usually solves itself.

Mediation can be seen as a perfect place to apply nonviolent communication for conflict resolution. To demonstrate this, we want to cite from Marshall B. Rosenberg’s book “Nonviolent Communication”:

“Instead of a third head asking [e.g., the mediator], “What can we agree to here?”, if we had a clear statement of each person’s needs – what those parties need right now from each other – we will then discover what can be done to get everybody’s needs met. These become the strategies the parties agree to implement after the mediation session concludes and the parties leave the room.”

The IM Campus Webinar about Nonviolent Communication by Francesca Francese

If you want to learn more about nonviolent communication, please watch the linked webinar below. During this, Francesca Francese will provide you with deeper insights about the basics, beautifully combined with practical applications, examples, and own experiences.

The former Italian musician Francesca Francese is based in Milan (Italy) and works as a civil and commercial mediator, with almost two decades of experience and thousands of mediated cases. She is listed in several international mediator panels. Besides her mediation work, she dedicates her time to train the mediator offspring by working as a trainer and lecturer in Universities and Institutions in Italy and around the world. She is fascinated by Marshall B. Rosenberg’s biography and work, and truly believes in the power of nonviolent communication.

Webinar Non-violent communication with Francesca Francese

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Webinar Nonviolent Communication with Francesca Francese