Nonviolent Communication and Spirituality

“Our most basic spiritual need is to contribute to the well being of others and ourselves.”

Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Spirituality are intimately connected.

In fact, Nonviolent Communication has foundations that can be called spiritual, depending on what one means by the word. Of course, the word spiritual has multiple meanings and connotations. So many, in fact, that it’s important we be very clear with what we mean when we say “Nonviolent Communication and Spirituality.”

Simply stated and at its essence: The spiritual foundation of NVC is about being connected to Life within ourselves and in others. This is one of the reasons that the spiritual basis of Nonviolent Communication is a topic of great interest among NVC practitioners from all walks of life. Heightened interest also explains the ongoing popularity of Practical Spirituality: Reflections on the Spiritual Basis of Nonviolent Communication.

Practice Spirituality and Communication with NVC

NVC is unique compared to a lot of other schools of spiritual thought because it allows us to practice spirituality, and communication on a human-level, at the same time. The core of NVC and spirituality is understanding and working with Universal Human Needs.

These are “core human motivators” also understood as the conditions that allow any human to thrive regardless of geographic or cultural context. The word “need” can be confusing, in part because it connotes a sense of lack, which is different than what we mean in NVC. Universal Human Needs are better understood as energies that want to flow, rather than holes to be filled.

We connect to the spiritual basis of NVC by connecting with our own aliveness and humanity, and by opening ourselves to connect with the aliveness and humanity of others. Connecting with what is alive in me — and connecting with what is alive in you — at the level of our shared humanity — that is the spiritual basis of Nonviolent Communication.

The language we use for “what is alive” is a language of Universal Human Needs, which gives us the words for what to call the “life” that is showing up inside each of us moment to moment. It’s the putting to use of our awareness of Universal Human Needs to craft win-win — mutually advantageous — solutions that makes the spirituality of NVC most practical to everyday conscious awareness of ourselves and others.

NVC, Consciousness and Spirituality

On the most fundamental level, NVC is about consciousness. It is about being consciously aware of, and taking into account our own needs, as well as the needs of others in each moment as they come. In this way, NVC, consciousness, and spirituality are individual branches of one larger tree: Life.

The consciousness of NVC includes an acute awareness of two fundamental life needs: Interdependence and Autonomy.

At the core of NVC practice, and the spiritual basis for NVC, is a constant balance of honoring the needs of others and our interconnectedness, while simultaneously honoring our own needs and sense of choice and inner clarity. Then, through dialog, finding strategies and solutions that can accommodate, honor, and fulfill as many needs as possible — thus, making it much more likely we achieve a mutually satisfying outcome.

The spirituality of NVC also centers around intention and attention. If my intention is to get my way or manipulate a specific outcome, I can use words that sound like NVC but it wouldn’t be NVC at all. So the intention of NVC is to create a high quality of connection so that both our needs can be met. And the spirituality of NVC is also about where we put our attention. We can put our attention on playing the game “who’s right and who’s wrong?” or we can put our attention on playing the game “how can I make life more wonderful?”. We can put our attention on blame, judgment and criticism — or we can put our attention on observations, feelings, needs, and requests.

It is important to remember that if we choose to use NVC as merely a tool or a technique, we can lose the deeper consciousness of it. This is because NVC is so much about consciousness and intentionality. Part of the practice is to stay connected to the essence (the consciousness of connection and mutuality) over the form (specific words you use). And part of the practice is to train ourselves to stay connected with our needs and the needs of others, without prematurely jumping to a solution.

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg PhD on NVC for Spiritual Development

Staying spiritually conscious is saying to ourselves, and as Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, PhD. would ask us, “how is Life showing up inside me in this moment?”

Through the language of human needs, Dr. Rosenberg would tell us that the spiritual foundation of NVC is about making a meaningful connection with needs, our own and others’ — rather than our thoughts about who is right and who is wrong. This direct contact with Life is the spiritual foundation of NVC.

He would also caution us to keep in mind that there is a difference between intellectually “figuring out” what we need versus making direct contact with what is alive for each of us.

Being able to put our attention on the unfulfilled needs behind hurtful words or an act of violence allows us to be more compassionate. It also allows us to prevent violence by addressing it at root cause, and to access the possibility of deeper healing both for victims of violence and those who have enacted it.

Finally, Dr. Rosenberg would remind us that our exposure to NVC for spiritual development, through reading and workshops and online, works to both deepen our consciousness of needs as well as to expand our vocabulary for understanding and expressing needs. If we can help two parties in any conflict distill their issues to Universal Human Needs, we are then in a place for each party to see each others’ humanity — which is a great step toward resolving any conflict!

PuddleDancer Press Books for Spiritual Growth and Development

Imagine being able to stay connected to what is alive for you, while simultaneously being able to stay connected to what is alive in others — and from that place, finding solutions perhaps nobody had thought of, but which are agreeable to all involved!

Now you can, with PuddleDancer Press’s books on for spiritual growth and development, including the aforementioned Practical Spirituality: Reflections on the Basis of Nonviolent Communication.

Our books for spiritual 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,
Prevent and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts,
Speak your truth in a clear, powerful way more likely to lead to harmony than conflict,
Create mutual understanding without coercion.

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

Check out our bookstore… and give yourself the gift of NVC today!

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

More information on Books related to Spirituality

NVC Spirituality Web Resources

Click here for Marshall Rosenberg Spirituality Articles
Click here for Marshall Rosenberg Spirituality Videos
Click here for Nonviolent Communication Spirituality Articles
Click here for Nonviolent Communication Spirituality Videos

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.