Nonviolent Communication Skills for Personal Development and Growth

“As we learn to speak from the heart we are changing the habits of a lifetime.”

Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.

How do we use Nonviolent Communication skills for personal development and growth?

Actually, the process itself of learning and applying NVC automatically contributes to and accelerates your personal growth and development.

Even if you are drawn to NVC because you want a better relationship with your boss, or because you want to be heard by your mother-in-law, personal growth and development are natural byproducts of learning, applying, and growing in NVC.


The purpose of NVC is to create a high quality of connection out of which we more easily co-create mutually fulfilling outcomes.

If the goal is a high quality of connection, then our communication requires us to be clear about what is happening inside us. If you don’t know, clearly, what is happening inside you… how could you communicate it?

The more you explore inside, the more you find. Humans often have complex desires and motivations. We have stories about ourselves and others. And the more we know ourselves and develop interior clarity, the more easily we will navigate our internal landscape. That increased interior clarity is an asset that we bring to all our relationships and interactions.

What is Personal Growth and Development?

What is personal growth and development?

Personal growth and development means both knowing yourself AND cultivating and increasing your positive qualities and capacities. Because life is dynamic and change is a constant, both getting to know yourself and the process of learning and growing never stop.

The thing is, personal growth and development are not linear! We can grow and develop in so many ways: a few examples include body (fitness), heart (emotional clarity), and mind (cognitive clarity, awareness of our reactive patterns, etc.).

NVC has its unique contribution to personal growth and development, and helps us grow in particular ways.

Every major religion and spiritual tradition has some version of know thyself.

How can I become more loving, understanding, patient? How can I increase my integrity, my groundedness, my capacity to be present?

Here is a matrix that shows you 28 capacities people develop as they grow in NVC. The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) uses this matrix as part of their process of certifying trainers.

The Importance of Personal Growth and Development

On the surface, the importance of personal growth and development is that you will be a happier person!

If you don’t look at your blind spots, at the ways in which you are reactive, the things that trigger you — if you are not able to take constructive feedback and criticism — then you risk living a life in which you are stuck in patterns of blame and unhappiness.

When you look, with courage, at the areas in which you need to grow and learn — this begins a wonderful process of unfolding!

And beyond the personal benefits, your personal condition radiates outward.

Your presence is noted by others. Your tension and anxiety affect those around you. Your calm demeanor, your peacefulness, can also impact others around you.

So the importance of personal growth and development is manyfold. It’s an adventure, a journey we can undertake to discover the depths of the human mind, of human potential, and of the mysteries of existence.

And your personal growth and development also affects your relationships, your family, your community, and everybody you interact with.

Your internal conversation affects external conversations.

And the quality of your interactions impacts and largely determines the shared outcomes you and those around you experience.

Use NVC to Develop Healthy Intrapersonal Communication Skills

You can use NVC to develop healthy intrapersonal communication skills!

NVC has 3 areas in which you can put your attention in the service of connection for mutually-satisfying outcomes:

  1. Honesty: expressing what is true for me in a way that is most likely to result in harmony rather than conflict; and that is most likely to result in my own needs being met, in a way that is in harmony with the needs of others;
  2. Empathy: how to be on the receiving end of blame, judgment, and criticism, and still be able to put my attention on what is important to the other person — their needs and values; as a result I am less defensive, more able to stand in a compassionate place, and most likely to defuse any potential conflict;
  3. Self-connection: how to stay aware of what I’m observing, feeling, needing, and wanting so that I can remain both authentic and compassionate, and I am more able to craft mutually satisfying outcomes with others.

Intrapersonal communication skills involves this last area.

The issue is that most people communicate quite violently with themselves whenever they make a mistake or are less than perfect.

“You’re so stupid!” — would be a common example of this kind of negative self-talk.

Usually we do this because there’s a part of ourselves that wants us to learn a lesson. The problem is that when we speak to ourselves (or others) in that way it erodes self-esteem and is much more likely to lead to shame, guilt, and depression — not to mention that this is not a likely way to learn the desired lesson.

NVC teaches us to translate judgments into a language of life, in other words, a language of Universal Human Needs.

That way, an expression like, “you’re so stupid,” might become, “When I notice that I made the same spelling mistake three times today, I feel upset and discouraged because I’m yearning for clarity, competence, learning, and conservation of energy.”

When we bring clarity to our needs and values we are more empowered to create movement in the direction we want. If we experience these needs as unfulfilled, we can mourn in a health way, without falling into shame, guilt, and depression.

Using NVC to develop healthy intrapersonal communication skills can take time and practice, because most of us have not yet developed a strong vocabulary for feelings and needs. However, the only thing harder than doing it would be not doing it!

Use NVC to Improve Interpersonal Communication Skills

It helps your relationships with others so much when you are clear inside.

Your self-connection is a limiting factor for both your self-expression as well as for your ability to be present empathically.

Sometimes the thing that would make the most positive impact in your relationships could be as simple as self care! If you are hungry, dehydrated, under-slept, stressed out, in an empathy deficit about something — or any combination of those —, in that moment your interior resources are lower.

When your interior resources are lower is when you are most likely to snap at someone, or cave-in, or withdraw.

The self-connection and self-awareness that NVC gives me, helps me be more whole and grounded. I then bring this greater sense of balance and wholeness to my relationships.

Just like I use NVC to transform my thinking and language with myself — NVC also teaches me a way of expressing myself that is most likely to lead to connection and mutually agreeable outcomes with others.

You can use NVC to improve your interpersonal communication skills — it just so happens that how we speak to ourselves is mirrored in how we speak to others.

The Benefits of Compassionate Communication with Yourself

There are so many benefits to using compassionate communication with yourself, the first of which is that you will feel much more free. Things that in the past used to sap your energy, are now short-lived. Events that in the past might have led to guilt or depression, now lead to learning and growth with much less suffering.

Have you noticed those times when you have a judgment of yourself… and at the same time you experience that same judgment also coming from outside? That can be truly excruciating!

What if you didn’t have those self-judgments? What if you had found a way to transform them, and liberate yourself from them?

When you resolve any judgments you have of yourself, outside judgments affect you less or not at all.

And as noted above, your inner condition is reflected out to all your relationships. As you develop a more harmonious relationship with yourself it becomes easier to do it with others.

Improved shared outcomes which are co-created with others, is only one of the many benefits of compassionate communication with yourself.

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg on NVC for Self Awareness and Empathy

When you read Dr. Marshall Rosenberg on NVC for self-awareness and empathy, you notice that he does not set himself up as an omnipotent guru. On the contrary, Dr. Rosenberg shared many of his own stories about times in which he was less than perfect or fell short of his own ideal behavior.

These stories reveal a tremendous value in being real and vulnerable about what actually happens, and how we can grow and learn when we are imperfect.

In fact, Dr. Rosenberg often encouraged us to be willing to try things despite the fact that we could mess it all up! “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly!” he would say. He reminded us that every amazing musician, for example, went through beginner stages, and awkward moments — and that this was exactly the path toward honing one’s craft.

And Dr. Rosenberg wrote and spoke about how we use NVC to stay connected to our own interior power. He warned us to never give anyone the power to make us submit or rebel. The third path is one of compassion and self-empowerment, which NVC illuminates clearly.

When Dr. Marshall Rosenberg wrote or spoke on NVC for self-awareness and empathy he encouraged us to take risks, keep it real, learn from the process, and to stay compassionate with ourselves and others.

PuddleDancer Press Books for Personal Growth and Development

PuddleDancer Press is the foremost proponent and publisher of books on Nonviolent Communication and personal growth and development. NVC has shown time and again that human beings have a tremendous untapped potential to be self-empowered, self-aware, clear, and compassionate with others.

NVC is a fantastic addition to your personal practice: for getting clear on your deepest motivations, for learning to be bold in asking for what you want, resolving conflicts, deepening relationships, and crafting win-win solutions with others.

Our books on human growth and development can help you:

  • Create exceptional personal and professional relationships,
  • Offer compassionate understanding to others,
  • Know when and how to ask for that same understanding for yourself,
  • Create mutual understanding without coercion,
  • Prevent and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts, and
  • Speak your truth in a clear, powerful way that is more likely to lead to harmony than conflict.

Whether you are a long-time student — or are brand new to NVC — PuddleDancer Press has the educational resources, including the books on personal growth and development, to help you grow your emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and communication prowess.

Check out our catalog of books on personal development… and give yourself the gift of Compassionate Communication!


Topic written by Alan Seid, a Certified Trainer, on behalf of PuddleDancer Press for use on

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There is a wealth of information on Nonviolent Communication – in articles and videos. Of course we endorse all of Marshall’s sharing’s, however, there are many transcripts and videos created by others. Due to limited resources we do not verify the full accuracy of any particular video or articles created by others, even though there is plenty of wonderful and educational information on the web.