One week before the race riots of 1943 broke out, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg moved to Detroit and had an unforgettable exposure to violence. In school he was on the receiving end of verbal violence, being called a “kike,” a derogatory name for people of Jewish decent. At home he was fortunately able to witness unconditional love and compassion as he observed his uncle give care to his Grandmother. He saw him smiling through what could be described as an unglamorous labor of love, giving gentle care for an aging body. Integrating these diverse experiences within a mind of curiosity and wonder about the human experience he came up with these two questions. What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature, leading us to behave violently and exploitatively? What allows some people to stay connected even under the most trying circumstances?
(click on collage for a clearer view)
His investigation included a Psychology degree and his own introspection into the crucial role of communication in contributing to how much conflict or peace we experience in our daily lives. Marshall wanted to find a way to live within a consciousness of compassion; approaching life mindful of his choice to show up in the world with consideration and empathy. He called this new language, Nonviolent Communication using the term nonviolence as Gandhi described it, “our natural state of compassion, when violence has subsided from the heart.” Although it is also referred to as NVC for short, or Compassionate Communication to highlight the beauty of what it is rather than what it is not. NVC offers tools and practices to help our programmed mind of reaction adopt a new program of empathy, so we can speak this ‘language of the heart.’ The NVC mascot is the giraffe, who has the largest heart of any land animal and a long neck allowing it a broad perspective.
Words of Marshall Rosenberg:
“Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger”
“Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.”
“What others say may be the stimulus of our feelings, but never the cause”
“People do not hear our pain when they believe they are at fault”
“Translate all self judgments into self empathy”
“The more we talk about the past, the less we heal from it”
“Judgments of others contribute to self fulling prophesies”
“It’s harder to empathize with those who appear to posses more power, status, or resources”
“When we hear the other person’s feelings and needs, we recognize our common humanity”
“We are never angry because of what others do. It is our thinking that makes us angry”
Finding this compassionate approach to communication has been like a prayer answered to me being someone who has been trying to find solutions to all of misunderstanding in the world since I can remember. I will be forever grateful to Marshall for following his heart, his curiosity, and believing in the possibility that we can create peace.
Below are some quotes about Marshall from Puddle Dance Press.
“Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. is the founder and director of educational services for the Center for Nonviolent Communication, an international peacemaking organization. He is the author of Speak Peace in a World of Conflict, the bestselling Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, as well as Life-Enriching Education and several NVC booklets. Dr. Rosenberg is the 2006 recipient of the Global Village Foundation’s Bridge of Peace Award, and the Association of Unity Churches International 2006 Light of God Expressing Award.”
“Dr. Rosenberg first used the NVC process in federally funded school integration projects to provide mediation and communication skills training during the 1960s. The Center for Nonviolent Communication, which he founded in 1984, now has hundreds of certified NVC trainers and supporters teaching NVC in more than 35 countries around the globe.”
Marshall’s purposeful passion..
Re-awaken our innate compassion
If you would like to read more about his story, in his own words, please visit, http://www.cnvc.org/Training/nvc-chapter-1