Improve your life with nonviolent communication

How many times have you witnessed or had clashes and conflicts at home, at work, between friends or simply while driving? Conflicts are unavoidable and even healthy. It is impossible for human beings to agree on everything. However the way we deal with conflicts and communicate is something we can enhance. Nonviolent communication, developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg who was witnessing daily conflicts in the city where he grew up, is an ideal way to improve your relationship with others and resolve conflicts in a peaceful way. The article below will allow you to learn basic information about nonviolent communication.

What is Nonviolent Communication?

Nonviolent communication is a process that allows all the parties present to resolve their differences peacefully by getting what is really important to them without harming the other party (the parties will not use humiliations, guilt…). It also allows a person to communicate better with others in order to build strong and sincere relationships with them. To reach this goal successfully, the parties need to practice how to express themselves in an honest and non-judgmental way and listen actively to the needs of the other party with compassion and empathy. This process can be used in schools, universities, businesses, governments, etc.

Method of Nonviolent Communication by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg

Four steps:

Setp 1: The party in the conflict needs to:

1)      Describe the situation without analyzing it, evaluating it or judging it.

2)      Express his/her feelings towards this situation.

3)      Express his/her needs connected with these feelings.

4)      Suggest a solution that will help meet this need without imposing it on the other party.

Step 2: The other party needs to:

1)       Listen patiently and carefully with empathy and compassion.

2)      Rephrase what the other person said in order to make sure s/he understood what the other party is saying correctly.

Setp 3: The parties switch roles. The first party needs to listen with empathy to the other party and make sure that s/he understands his/her need.

Step 4: Both parties need to discuss the solution that will help meet their respective needs and avoid differences in the future.

 Practice Exercise

Let us take the following example: Rania is working with Wassim. She did not meet a deadline. Wassim criticized her in front of all her colleagues. Wassim and Rania are both very upset and angry with each other.

Let us now apply the method of nonviolent communication to this conflict:

Step 1: Rania calls Wassim and asks to meet with him alone.

1) Rania describes what happened to Wassim. E.g. When I missed a deadline, you mentioned this in front of all our colleagues.

2) Rania explains her feelings to Wassim. E.g. I felt really upset and humiliated.

3) Rania expresses her needs connected to her feelings. E.g. I need you to give me your feedback in a one-to-one meeting so I don’t feel humiliated again.

4) Rania suggests a solution to Wassim. E.g. If I miss a deadline next time, could you please take me on the side in order to give me your feedback?

Step 2: Wassim needs to:

1) Listen patiently with empathy and compassion to what Rania is saying. This means that he needs to avoid getting angry or upset and his body language needs to express that as well (e.g. He needs to nod with his head to make Rania understand that he is listening carefully to what she is saying; his body needs to lean slightly towards her; he needs to avoid interrupting her while she is speaking…).

2) Rephrase what she said. E.g. I understood from you that you felt humiliated and upset when I criticized you in front of our colleagues. I also understood that you want me to give you my feedback privately from now on. Right?

Step 3: Now it is Rania’s turn to listen to Wassim.

1) Wassim describes what happened. E.g. I found out that you missed the deadline. Consequently, the rest of the team was late in delivering the work.

2) Wassim expresses his feeling. E.g. I felt very angry and upset because our customer is in a hurry and we won’t be able to deliver the work on time.

3) Wassim expresses his need related to his feeling. E.g. I need our company to meet the deadlines in order to avoid clashes with our customers.

4) Wassim suggests as solution to Rania. E.g. I need you to prioritize your work so you can meet the deadlines.

5) Rania listens patiently and with empathy to Wassim. She rephrases what she heard. E.g. I understood from you that you were upset when you saw that I was late in delivering the work because the work of the entire team was delayed. Consequently, you were upset because you need to justify this delay to our customers who will most probably be very upset. You are asking me to prioritize my work in order to meet deadlines. Right?

Step 4: Wassim and Rania agree on the following. Rania will from now on prioritize her work so she can meet the deadlines and Wassim will give her his feedback privately.

Please note that this is a pretty simplified situation. In life, we face pretty complicated issues and we need to practice nonviolent communication daily in order to be able to resolve complex conflicts peacefully and improve our relationships with others.

About Marshall Rosenberg, Creator of Nonviolent Communication

Marshall Rosenberg grew up in the city of Detroit where he daily witnessed violent situations among underprivileged minorities. He decided to study Clinical Psychology in order to understand the causes of violence and how it can be reduced and earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wisconsin. After identifying ways that reduce violence and support compassionate relationships, he developed a communication process called “nonviolent communication” or “compassionate communication”. In the 1960s, he opened The Center for Nonviolent Communication. He offered trainings about nonviolent communication in more than 60 countries. Thanks to his initiative, a large number of certified trainers offer trainings about nonviolence all over the world since the 1980s.


1)      Course about nonviolent communication offered at the Academic University for Human Rights and Nonviolent in Lebanon.









6 Responses to Communication

  1. Afif says:

    Very good start Rima…

    Keep up the good work and I suggest you can perhaps write on communication related topics like:

    – Verbal Communication
    – Non-Verbal Communication
    – Visual Communication
    – Written Communication

    Or indulge more in topics like:

    – Presentation Skills
    – Public Speaking
    – Active Listening
    – Empathetic Listening
    – Speech Writing/Delivery
    – Emailing Etiquette
    – Sign Language
    – Body Language

    The list can go on for a while but they’re all very interesting topics and I guess they might be of interest to you.

    I hope my input was of any help….those are my two cents for now 😉


  2. Ghassan says:

    Nice start :-)
    Very comprehensive and straight forward with clear sources for potential advanced investigation of the subject .
    Waiting for more!

  3. Siraj Hull says:

    I am very proud of what you are doing Rima. I read about you on the October issue of Toastmaster. It takes a lot to organize and implement a project and it is not easy, so I appreciate what you have done and continue to do. I applaud your effort and wish you all the best in your future undertakings.

    • rimaaboumrad says:

      Hi Siraj, it is very nice meeting you online. Thank you for your kind words and your encouragements. Best wishes to you too :-). P.S. Are you a member of a Toastmaster Club? If yes, what is the name of the club? Where are you located?

      • Siraj Hull says:

        Sorry for the late reply Rima. I do belong to The Blackhawk Toastmasters Club – #: 3521, Dist #: 35, in Madison, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I miss most of the meetings because I travel a lot. When I am home, I make it a point to attend the meetings. Again, I applaud your efforts. Keep up the good work. Best wishes to you.

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