We always tend to think we’re good communicators and believe it’s someone else that’s the problem. It’s something we think we’ve mastered and that’s why we’re often confused when it blows up in our face. How many times have you stood there scratching your head, bewildered about what just happened?

More than enough is my guess. And you know what you can’t afford when relying on working with other people as an entrepreneur? Being misunderstood. It’s counterproductive, expensive (time is also a valuable currency) and frustrating for you and your team members. This is where Nonviolent Communication (NVC), also known as Compassionate Communication, comes in. Developed by Marshall Rosenberg, an American psychologist, NVC provides a framework to understand each others’ needs and promotes a way of using language to improve how we talk to one another. It has been successfully applied all over the world in a variety of areas including education, mediation, and organizational and business settings.

NVC post photo

What is Nonviolent Communication?

NVC works under the theory that we all share the same needs and conflicts arise when we miscommunicate and fail to address the needs of others. It advocates the use of positive language and that we be non-judgmental and empathetic towards others. The goal is to communicate compassionately, to find out what people’s needs are and to work together to satisfy the needs of all involved.

There are 4 components to NVC. In brief, these are:

  1. Observation: We observe only the facts of what was said and try not to apply meaning or significance.
  2. Feelings: What we are feeling in the moment. Expressing these feelings can help resolve conflicts and misunderstandings.
  3. Needs: We all have needs. Our lives and what we do and say are in service to those needs.
  4. Request: After observing and recognizing feelings and needs non-judgmentally, we request an action that is not a demand using clear and positive language.

Watch ‘Vulnerable honesty’ by Yoram Mosenzon, a Certified Trainer in NVC, at TEDxAmsterdamED 


NVC can be quite different to how we typically communicate with one another. The primary thing to keep in mind about NVC is that it’s about compassionate communication through a connection with yourself and others, while trying to express yourself honestly. The ultimate goal is to communicate better. If you want to implement NVC in your own life or in an organization, know that there will be a transition period and it’s something that takes practice like any skill or sport. Very few of us, if any, get it right on the first go. Just remember, practice makes perfect.

Where to learn more about NVC?

To find out more about NVC, check out The Center for Nonviolent Communication. You can also read the book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by theman himself, Marshall Rosenberg. To connect with the local NVC community, find seminars or workshops, check out Gewaltfreie Kommunikation Austria.


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