Nonviolent Communication (NVC), also called Compassionate Communication, is a
communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. NVC
often functions as a conflict resolution process. It focuses on three aspects of
communication: self-empathy (defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of
one’s own inner experience), empathy (defined as listening to another with deep
compassion), and honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself authentically in
a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).
I think it is important that people see that spirituality
is at the base of Nonviolent Communication, and
that they learn the mechanics of the process with
that in mind. It’s really a spiritual practice that I am
trying to show as a way of life.
Even though we don’t mention this, people get
seduced by the practice. Even if they practice this as
a mechanical technique, they start to experience
things between themselves and other people they weren’t able to experience before. So
eventually they come to the spirituality of the process. They begin to see that it’s more
than a communication process and realize it’s really an attempt to manifest a certain
spirituality. — Marshall Rosenberg
NVC is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and
only resort to violence or behavior that harms others when they don’t recognize more
effective strategies for meeting needs. Habits of thinking and speaking that lead to the
use of violence (psychological and physical) are learned through culture. NVC theory
supposes all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs and
that these needs are never in conflict. Rather, conflict arises when strategies for meeting
needs clash. NVC proposes that if people can identify their needs, the needs of others,
and the feelings that surround these needs, harmony can be achieved.
While NVC is ostensibly taught as a process of communication designed to improve
compassionate connection to others, it has also been interpreted as a spiritual practice,
a set of values, a parenting technique, an educational method and a worldview.