The power of Nonviolent Communication


In today’s world, effective communication has become a cornerstone of successful interactions, both on a personal and global scale.

From social media exchanges to international diplomacy, the way we communicate shapes our relationships, influences decision-making, and impacts the overall quality of our lives. As the stakes continue to rise, finding ways to communicate with empathy and respect has become more vital than ever before.

In this context, the concept of Nonviolent Communication emerges as a powerful tool for navigating the complex landscape of modern communication. Developed by clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s, it offers a fresh perspective on how we express ourselves and connect with others. It transcends the conventional methods of communication, which often involve asserting dominance, seeking validation, or resorting to aggression.

Rosenberg underwent a transformation in his approach, shifting away from clinical psychological practice towards a community-oriented perspective.

At its core, nonviolent communication represents a paradigm shift—a departure from the win-lose mentality that often characterises communication. Instead of focusing on who is right or wrong, nonviolent communication centres on understanding, empathy, and collaboration. It’s not merely a set of techniques; it’s a way of being and relating to the world around us.

Understanding Nonviolent Communication 

Nonviolent Communication is a framework that encourages compassionate and effective communication. It’s a process that focuses on observing without judgment, identifying feelings, expressing needs, and making requests. Following this process, people can communicate their thoughts and emotions while fostering understanding and empathy.

The Four Components of Nonviolent Communication

Observation – begin by describing a specific situation or action without interpreting or evaluating it. This step involves focusing on concrete, factual observations that anyone could agree upon.
Example: Instead of saying, “You’re always late to our meetings,” you could say, “In the past three meetings, you arrived 15 minutes after the scheduled start time.”

Feeling – express the emotion you are experiencing in response to the observation, use feeling words rather than judgmental terms.
Example: Instead of saying, “Your lateness is so frustrating,” you could say, “I feel concerned and anxious when you arrive late.”

Need – identify the underlying need or value that is causing your feelings.
Example: Instead of saying, “You’re being disrespectful,” you could say, “I value punctuality and respect for everyone’s time.”

Request – now it’s time to formulate a clear and positive request for how the situation can be improved. Make specific, actionable requests rather than demanding compliance.
Example: Instead of saying, “You need to be on time,” you could say, “Could you make an effort to arrive on time for our future meetings?”

Benefits of Nonviolent Communication

  • You will better understand the feelings and needs of yourself and others, fostering empathy and deeper connections.
  • By focusing on underlying needs rather than blame, you will be able to facilitate conflict resolution and reduce defensiveness.
  • Nonviolent communication can lead to increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence as you learn to identify and express your feelings and needs.

Real-life examples of Nonviolent Communication in action

At work

In a collaborative project at work, there is a miscommunication between two team members regarding their respective responsibilities. This miscommunication has led to confusion and delays in the project’s progress.

Nonviolent Communication approach:

Observation: “I’ve noticed that there seems to be some confusion about our roles and responsibilities in the project.”

Feeling: “I feel concerned about the impact this confusion might have on our project’s timeline and quality.”

Need: “I value clear communication and efficient teamwork to ensure the project’s success.”

Request: “Could we have a discussion to clarify our roles and responsibilities to ensure a smoother project flow?”

Addressing miscommunication early can lead to smoother project flow, better task allocation, and ultimately, a higher-quality outcome.

In relationships

In many relationships, disputes over household chores are common. One partner might feel burdened by an uneven distribution of responsibilities, leading to frustration and resentment.

Nonviolent Communication approach:

Observation: “There are dirty dishes in the sink.”

Feeling: “I feel overwhelmed and stressed.”

Need: “I value a clean and organized living space.”

Request: “Would you be willing to discuss a plan for sharing household responsibilities?”

Your partner may share their own feelings and needs, leading to a deeper understanding of their point of view as well.

Collaboratively discussing a plan for sharing household responsibilities allows both partners to contribute to finding a fair and practical solution.


Parenting is a journey filled with opportunities for growth, understanding, and effective communication.

Homework can be a source of contention between parents and children. A child’s reluctance to complete assignments may stem from various factors, including frustration, fatigue, or lack of interest.

Nonviolent Communication approach:

Observation: “I’ve noticed that you haven’t started your homework yet.”

Feeling: “I feel concerned about your academic progress.”

Need: “I want to support your learning and growth.”

Request: “Could we sit down together and work on your homework?”

The nonviolent communication approach fosters an environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their concerns without fear of criticism.

By requesting to work on the homework together, you’re inviting your child to actively participate in finding a solution, encouraging responsibility and accountability.

In a world where misunderstandings and conflicts can escalate quickly, nonviolent communication offers a valuable approach to fostering understanding, empathy, and collaboration.

Try incorporating the components of nonviolent communication and practising it in various situations and see how it improves and changes your relationships.

Examples of areas to apply the non-violent communication framework to:
  • At work: situations with colleagues or your team members that you are finding frustrating to navigate.
  • At home: situations with your partner or with your children that are making you feel stressed.
  • With your friends or family: old or new disagreements.
  • Or even with conflicts with your neighbours! You name it, this framework could be applied everywhere!

Of course, not everyone is reasonable and will communicate back in the same calm manner – however, this approach gives a chance for everyone to hear others out and be heard out in return.