Notes from 'Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life'

Four steps of Nonviolent Communication: observe, identify and state feelings, identify and state needs, and make requests.


Nonviolent Communication (NVC) has been described as a language of compassion, as a tool for positive social change, and as a spiritual practice. NVC gives us the tools and consciousness to understand what triggers us, to take responsibility for our reactions, and to deepen our connection with ourselves and others, thereby transforming our habitual responses to life. Ultimately, it involves a radical change in how we think about life and meaning. NVC is based on a fundamental principle:

Underlying all human actions are needs that people are seeking to meet, and understanding and acknowledging these needs can create a shared basis for connection, cooperation, and more globally – peace.

NVC was developed by Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, who has introduced it to individuals and organizations world-wide. NVC has been used between warring tribes and in war-torn countries; in schools, prisons, and corporations; in health care, social change, and government institutions; and in intimate personal relationships. Currently, over 200 hundred certified trainers and many more non-certified trainers around the world are sharing NVC in their communities.


The language of NVC includes two parts: honestly expressing ourselves to others, and empathically hearing others. Both are expressed through four components – observations, feelings, needs, and requests.

Four steps of Nonviolent Communication: observe, identify and state feelings, identify and state needs, and make requests.

  1. Observations: Observe what’s happening, what’s really going on? What is happening or being said that you either like or dislike?

  2. Feelings: Identify your feelings about it, anger, joy, hopeful, inspired, lonely?

  3. Needs: Figure out what need you have that is driving that feeling.

  4. Requests: Ask for what you need (explicitly).

When you feel an emotional response to a situation, it’s always based on some unmet need. So figure out what that need is and then request (don’t demand) for the other person to fulfill it. Use phrases like: “Would you be willing to set the table?” rather than “Set the table.”

Expressing our own observations, feelings, needs and requests to others is one part of NVC. The second part is empathy: the process of connecting with another by guessing their feelings and needs.

When we use NVC to connect empathically, we use the same four components in the form of a question, since we can never know what is going on inside the other. The other person will always be the ultimate authority on what is going on for them. Our empathy may meet other people’s needs for understanding, or it may spark their own self-discovery. We may ask something like:

  1. When you [see, hear, etc…] ….

  2. Are you feeling …..

  3. Because you need …..

  4. And would you like …..?


Nonviolence means integrating love into our life. Leading life with respect, understanding, appreciation, gratitude, compassion and friendship, rather than selfishness, greed, hatred, prejudice, suspicion and hostility.

Nonviolent communication reminds us that listening to the different voices within, and the needs they reflect, can promote self-understanding and inner harmony. By developing good communication through a pattern of observations, feelings, needs, and requests, makes life more harmonious and beautiful.

I will practice the Nonviolent Communication to make life full of love and happiness.