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Jan 6, 2006
Center for 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

*fair use for promoting understanding* 

International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

"Active Listening

Opening Page | Glossary | Menu Shortcut Page

Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Often when people talk to each other, they don=t listen attentively. They are often distracted, half listening, half thinking about something else. When people are engaged in a conflict, they are often busy formulating a response to what is being said. They assume that they have heard what their opponent is saying many times before, so rather than paying
attention, they focus on how they can respond to win the argument.

Active listening is a structured form of listening and responding that focuses the attention on the speaker. The listener must take care to attend to the speaker fully, and then repeats, in the
listener=s own words, what he or she thinks the speaker has said. The listener does not have to agree with the speaker--he or she must simply state what they think the speaker said. This enables the speaker to find out whether the listener really understood. If the listener did not, the speaker can explain some more.

Often, the listener is encouraged to interpret the speaker=s words in terms of feelings. Thus, instead of just repeating what happened, the active listener might add "I gather that you felt angry or frustrated or confused when". . .[a particular event happened]. Then the speaker can go beyond confirming that the listener understood what happened, but can indicate that he or she also understood the speaker's psychological response to it.

Active listening has several benefits. First, it forces people to listen attentively to others. Second, it avoids misunderstandings, as people have to confirm that they do really understand what another person has said. Third, it tends to open people up, to get them to say more. When people are in conflict, they often contradict each other, denying the opponent's description of a situation. This tends to make people defensive, and they will either lash out, or withdraw and say nothing more. However, if they feel that their opponent is really attuned to their concerns and wants to listen, they are likely to explain in detail what they feel and why. If both parties to a conflict do this, the chances of being able to develop a solution to
their mutual problem becomes much greater."

Links to Examples of Active Listening

Divna Persic-Todorovic -- Conflict Resolution: Working with Refugees
This is a short story about a third party working and refugee camps in Serbia who used active listening to try to promote understanding and friendship between refugees.

Roger Fischer, Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Schneider -- Explore Partisan Perceptions
This is a short illustration that explains the importance of predispositions to the way that people see and understand situations. It emphasizes the importance of active listening to overcome such predispositions.

Andrea Williams -- Resolving Conflict in a Multicultural Environment
Active listening is one technique for clarifying communication and avoiding misunderstandings in cross-cultural communications.

Stewart, John, and Milt Thomas. "Dialogic Listening; Scupting Mutual Meanings"
This article describes and alternative to active listening that is more interactive.
*fair use for promoting understanding* 

Conversational Terrorism: How NOT to talk!

Conversational Terrorism

All of the techniques listed in this document have actually been witnessed, told to us by someone else, or dreamed up. They are described in first person for clarity of motive. The intent of detailing and naming these insidious tactics is so that the reader may AVOID USING THEM, to quickly recognize if someone else is using them, and for fun. There is much humor in the way people (consciously or unconsciously) conversationally cheat.

It is hoped that exposing these tactics will help muzzle the growing abuse in our  conversational landscape. Give copies to both perpetrators and victims (only NOT for profit use).

The examples are overblown in an attempt to be both clear and funny. Use your imagination to think of how you (perish the thought) and others have used these techniques in the past.

They have been grouped by major category, with the best (worst!) saved for last.

First, we have the Ad Hominem Variants:
where you attack the person as a way to avoid truth, science, or logic which might otherwise prove you wrong.

Next are the Sleight of Mind Fallacies,
which act as "mental magic" to make sure the unwanted subject disappears.

Then, we move on to Delay Tactics,
which are subtle means to buy time when put on the spot.

Then, the ever popular Question as Opportunity ploys,
where any question can be deftly averted.

Finally, we have the Cheap Shot Tactics and Irritants,
which are basically "below the belt" punches.

*fair use for promoting understanding and the ability to communicate in peace*

Active Listening Techniques
Leadership and Management: Active-Listening Techniques

Compassionate Listening and Reconciliation

Cooperative Communication Skills -- Extended Learning Community

Books and Essays by Gene Knudsen Hoffman
Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) Writer and Peace Activist

"An enemy is one whose story we have not heard." (GKH)

(a free, 25-page PDF document, also in web page format)
Perspecitives and Resources About Conflict Transformation
By Gene Knudsen Hoffman, Leah Green and Cynthia Monroe.
Introduction by Dennis Rivers


Introduction to these essays
1. Compassionate Listening -- First Step to Reconciliation?
2. Speaking Truth to Power
3. A New Approach to Peace
4. No Conflict, No Reconciliation
5. An Enemy Is One Whose Story We Have Not Heard
6. Listening for Truth
7. On Preventing Future Holocausts
8. Review of Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate,
by Michael Henderson.

“Compassionate Listening” and other writings by Gene Knudsen Hoffman,

Quaker Peace Activist and Mystic
Edited and introduced by Anthony Manousos

“For more than half a century, Gene Hoffman—through her essays and poetry, her workshops and speeches, her travels and her witness—has been a fountainhead of creative spirituality and courageous peacemaking. This will be a rich resource for those who come after her.—Richard Deats, Editor of Fellowship magazine, Author of Martin Luther King, Junior, Spirit-led Prophet (Faithworks, 1999).

click here for information from publisher, Friends Bulletin

Compassionate Listening In Action:
Essays by participants in the movement for compassionate listening

From: YES! A Journal of Positive Futures - Fall 1998
Citizen diplomats in Israel use active listening to help build the foundation for Jewish/Palestinian reconciliation

Website editor's note: Gene Knudsen Hoffman writes her deeply searching essays on a typewriter. You can reach her by writing to her at the following address:

Ms. Gene Knudsen Hoffman
c/o Journal of Cooperative Communication Skills
133 E. De la Guerra St. #PMB420
Santa Barbara, CA 93101 -- USA
or send a fax to (805)966-4437

This page is a public service of the Cooperative Communication Skills -- Extended Learning Community

*fair use for promoting understanding and nonviolent ways to communicate and resolve conflicts*



Listening and empathy training

Listening and empathizing are essential skills when relating to others. Most of us spend 70% of the day communicating, 45% of that time listening. We all want to be listened to (but spouses talk only 10-20 minutes per day). It is insulting to be ignored or neglected.

We all know what it means to listen, to really listen. It is more than hearing the words, it is truly understanding and accepting the other person's message and also his/her situation and feelings.

Empathy means understanding another person so well that you identify with him/her, you feel like he/she does. The Indians expressed it as: "Walking a mile in another person's moccasins." It is listening so intently and identifying so closely that you experience the other person's situation, thoughts and emotions. Good therapists do this, so do good friends (Berger, 1987). How do good listening and accurate empathy help?


*It shows you care and that you understood the other person. Thus, people will enjoy talking to you and will open up more.

* If you have misunderstood, the talker can immediately correct your impressions. You learn more about people.

* It usually directs the conversation towards important emotional topics.

* It lets the talker know that you (the listener) accept him/her and will welcome more intimate, personal topics. It invites him/her to tell his/her story and vent his/her feelings.

* Since it is safe to talk about "deep" subjects, the talker can express feelings and self-explore, carefully considering all his/her deep-seated emotions, the reasons for those feelings and his/her options. Thus, it is therapeutic.

* It reduces our irritation with others because we understand. To understand is to forgive.

* It may even reduce our prejudice or negative assumptions about others because we realize we now have a means of finding out what another person is really like. Furthermore, we discover everyone is "understandable."

* It fosters more meaningful, more helpful, closer friendships.Empathy is one of the more important skills you will ever acquire. It is amazing how few people do it well.


STEP ONE: Learn to be a good, active listener.Listening requires us to, first, really want to know the other person and, second, avoid the many common barriers to careful listening,
such as (1) constantly comparing yourself to the speaker (Who is smarter? Who's had it rougher? This is too hard for me.), (2) trying to mind read what the talker really thinks (Suppose he really likes his wife? He probably thinks I'm stupid for saying that), (3)planning what argument or story to give next, (4) filtering so that one hears only certain topics or doesn't hear critical remarks, (5)judging a statement to be "crazy," "boring," "stupid," "immature," "hostile," etc. before it is completed, (6) going off on one's own daydreams, (7) remembering your own personal experiences instead of listening to the talker, (8) busily drafting your prescription or advice long before the talker has finished telling his/her woes, (9) considering every conversation an intellectual debate with the goal of putting down the opponent, (10) believing you are always right so no need to listen, (11) quickly changing the topic or laughing it off if the topic gets serious, and (12) placating the other person
("You're right...Of course...I agree...Really!") by automatically agreeing with everything (McKay, Davis & Fanning, 1983). Because of these barriers, we typically retain for a few minutes only 65% of what is said to us (recall 2 months later is 25%). There is much room
for improvement.

It is not easy to listen actively all the time. Our concentration lasts only 15-20 minutes. All of us get distracted at times. But the good listener gets back on track and asks clarifying questions when things aren't clear. Above all we must guard against prejudices,closed-minded opinions, defenses, and fears of being wrong which prevent us from hearing what is said. Furthermore, we must check what we hear against our knowledge of the situation and human nature. We should ask: How is the talker feeling and thinking about him/herself? How does he/she see the world? Finally, we must "listen to" the facial expression and body language as well as the words. Listening is a complex task. Listening can be done at twice the rate of
talking, so use the extra time to review what was said and to wonder what wasn't said.

"If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two mouths and one ear"
-Mark Twain

(more info on link)
*fair use for promoting peaceful communication* 

Poor Listening Skills

International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA
Poor Listening Skills

Opening Page |
Glossary |
Menu Shortcut Page

Many people are poor listeners, even in everyday life. They tend to listen and think about something else at the same time. This happens even more frequently when people are in conflict. Rather than carefully attending to what the other person has said, many people
think about their response while the other person is talking.

In addition, they tend to interpret things to coincide with the views that they already have. For this reason, they assume they know and understand what other people are saying, because they assume that it corresponds to their own expectations about what the person is likely
to say or "should" be saying. Since people in conflict tend to develop hostile and distrustful images of the other, their interpretation of things the other side says or does is also likely
to be hostile and distrustful. Ambiguous messages are interpreted in the worst possible way; even clear messages tend to be ignored or disregarded, if they are inconsistent with one's original negative view.

Such poor listening makes good communication almost impossible. No matter how much care one person or group takes to communicate their concerns, values, interests, or needs in a fair, clear, unthreatening way, if the listener is not willing to receive that information in that way, the communication will fail.

Links to Possible Treatments of This Problem:
Active Listening!treating_overlays.htm#activel
Dialogic Listening!treating_overlays.htm#dialist
Communication Skills Improvement!treating_overlays.htm#commski


Links to Related Problems:
Inaccurate and Overly Hostile Stereotypes!overlay_problems.htm#stereoty
Inadequate Information Gathering!overlay_problems.htm#infogat-

Failure to Understand an Opponent's Perspective!overlay_problems.htm#noundrop

Copyright ©1998 Conflict Research Consortium -- Contact:

*fair use for promoting understanding and peaceful ways to resolve conflicts*

A Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace
That where there is hatred I may bring love,
That where there is wrong I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
That where there is discord I may bring harmony,
That where there is error I may bring truth,
That where there is doubt I may bring faith.
That where there is despair I may bring hope,
That where there is sadness I may bring joy.
That where there are shadows I may bring Thy Light.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort - than to be comforted;
To understand - than to be understood;
To love - than to be loved;
For it is by giving - that one receives;
It is by self-forgetting that one finds;
It is by forgiving - that one is forgiven;
It is by dying - that one awakens to eternal life.

"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend."
-- Abraham Lincoln

"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."
-- A.J. Muste.

If I am at peace with myself, there is no need to make you wrong."
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Posted: Jan 6, 2006 11:19am


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Harmony Kieding
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Tonsberg, AA, Norway
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