Marshall Rosenberg's NVC Quotes

We hope you’ll enjoy our collection of Marshall Rosenberg’s quotes about Nonviolent Communication. We gathered these here to make it easy to share NVC with your Twitter followers and your Facebook friends. Please come back whenever you’d like a fresh dose of inspiration or insight for yourself or for the other important people in your life.

The first section of Tweetable quotes about NVC are all 140 characters or less and so can be used as-is on Twitter. The next section contains NVC quotes by Marshall Rosenberg that are over 140 characters so these can be shared on Facebook and other social media and blog sites. (Jump down to the 140+ Section)

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33 Always hear the ‘Yes’ in the ‘No’.
34 Never do anything that isn’t play.
41 Avoid ‘shoulding’ on others and yourself!
42 Ask before offering advice or reassurance.
42 Intellectual understanding blocks empathy.
43 Use anger as a wake-up call to unmet needs.
43 We need to receive empathy to give empathy.
45 Every time I mess up is a chance to practice.
47 Translate all self-judgments into self-empathy.
47 When we judge others we contribute to violence.
49 Classifying and judging people promotes violence.
49 Depression is the reward we get for being ‘good’.
49 Punishment is the root of violence on our planet.
53 When we are angry, killing people is too superficial.
54 Don’t hate the circumstance, you may miss the blessing
55 Fear of punishment diminishes self-esteem and goodwill.
56 Expressing our vulnerability can help resolve conflicts.
58 Empathy lies in our ability to be present without opinion.
58 The more we talk about the past, the less we heal from it.
60 Plans to exact retribution are never going to make us safer.
61 Empathy gives you the ability to enjoy another person’s pain.
61 Judgments of others contribute to self-fulfilling prophecies.
61 Learning is too precious to be motivated by coercive tactics.
62 Enemy images are the main reason conflicts don’t get resolved.
62 The more we empathize with the other party, the safer we feel.
64 At the root of every tantrum and power struggle are unmet needs.
64 People do not hear our pain when they believe they are at fault.
64 Take your time to understand. Don’t just do something, be there.
64 The number one rule of our training is empathy before education.
66 Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger.
67 It may be most difficult to empathize with those we are closest to.
70 Empathizing with someone’s ‘no’ protects us from taking it personally.
70 Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.
70 Getting in touch with unmet needs is important to the healing process.
71 A difficult message to hear is an opportunity to enrich someone’s life.
71 Criticism, analysis, and insults are tragic expressions of unmet needs.
71 Self-empathy in NVC means checking in with your own feelings and needs.
72 We are responsible for what we hear other people say and for how we act.
72 What others do may be the stimulus of our feelings, but never the cause.
73 Empathy allows us to re-perceive our world in a new way and move forward.
73 Every message, regardless of form or content, is an expression of a need.
73 When we fear punishment, we focus on consequences, not on our own values.
74 Self-judgments, like all judgments, are tragic expressions of unmet needs.
74 With empathy, I’m fully with them, and not full of them – that’s sympathy.
75 With empathy we don’t direct, we follow. Don’t just do something, be there.
76 The cause of anger lies in our thinking – in thoughts of blame and judgment.
76 Your presence is the most precious gift you can give to another human being.
77 As we learn to speak from the heart we are changing the habits of a lifetime.
77 NVC gives us tools and understanding to create a more peaceful state of mind.
78 Always listen to what people need rather than what they are thinking about us.
78 Upset? Ask yourself what  this person does that is a trigger for judging them?
79 Punishment also includes judgmental labeling and the withholding of privileges.
81 Compliments and praise, for their part, are tragic expressions of fulfilled needs
83 Behind intimidating messages are simply people appealing to us to meet their needs.
83 What all the basic religions are saying is this: Don’t do anything that isn’t play.
84 Get very clear about the kind of world we would like and then start living that way.
85 When we hear the other person’s feelings and needs, we recognize our common humanity.
86 We can never make anyone do anything against their will without enormous consequences.
86 We use NVC to evaluate ourselves in ways that engender growth rather than self-hatred.
87 As long as I think I ‘should’ do it, I’ll resist it, even if I want very much to do it.
91 I don’t think you can have an authentic connection when one person is diagnosing the other.
91 It’s harder to empathize with those who appear to possess more power, status, or resources.
91 Understanding the other persons’ needs does not mean you have to give up on your own needs.
91 We are never angry because of what others say or do. It is our thinking that makes us angry.
91 When we understand the needs that motivate our own and others behavior, we have no enemies.
92 NVC requires us to be continually conscious of the beauty within ourselves and other people.
92 People heal from their pain when they have an authentic connection with another human being.
92 The most dangerous of all behaviors may consist of doing things ‘because we’re supposed to.’
94 All moralistic judgments, whether positive or negative, are tragic expressions of unmet needs.
94 Anger can be a wonderful wake up call to help you understand what you need and what you value.
94 Our goal is to create a quality of empathic connection that allows everyone’s needs to be met.
95 In our culture, most of us have been trained to ignore our own wants and to discount our needs.
96 The key to fostering connection in the face of a ‘no’ is always hearing ‘yes’ to something else.
96 To practice NVC, we must completely abandon the goal of getting other people to do what we want.
97 The first step in healing is to put the focus on what’s alive now, not what happened in the past.
97 Violence comes from the belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment.
97 We are never angry because of what others say or do; it is a result of our own ‘should’ thinking.
99 NVC is a way of keeping our consciousness tuned in moment by moment to the beauty within ourselves.
101 To be able to hear our own feelings and needs and to empathize with them can free us from depression.
102 The spirituality that we need to develop for social change is one that mobilizes us for social change.
103 Miracles can happen when we can keep our consciousness away from analyzing and classifying one another.
103 If we want to make meetings productive, we need to keep track of those whose requests are on the table.
104 Schooling teaches us to dehumanize human beings by thinking of what they are rather than what they need.
107 NVC helps us connect with each other and ourselves in a way that allows our natural compassion to flourish.
107 We do not look for compromise; rather, we seek to resolve the conflict to everyone’s complete satisfaction.
108 Fear of corporal punishment obscures children’s awareness of the compassion underlying the parent’s demands.
109 When our communication supports compassionate giving and receiving, happiness replaces violence and grieving! ~ Marshall B. Rosenberg
113 NVC self-forgiveness: connecting with the need we were trying to meet when we took the action that we now regret.
113 We are this divine energy. It’s not something we have to attain. We just have to realize it, to be present to it.
113 When people hear needs, it provokes compassion. When people hear diagnoses, it provokes defensiveness and attack.
114 Anger, depression, guilt, and shame are the product of the thinking that is at the base of violence on our planet.
114 People have been trained to criticize, insult, and otherwise communicate in ways that create distance among people.
114 When it comes to giving advice, never do so unless you’ve first received a request in writing, signed by a lawyer.
116 Never hear what somebody thinks about you, you’ll live longer. Hear that they’re in pain. Don’t hear their analysis.
116 We want to take action out of the desire to contribute to life rather than out of fear, guilt, shame, or obligation.
118 How I choose to look at any situation will greatly affect whether I have the power to change it or make matters worse.
118 Interpretations, criticisms, diagnoses, and judgments of others are actually alienated expressions of our unmet needs.
118 Social change involves helping people see new options for making life wonderful that are less costly to get needs met.
118 The punitive use of force tends to generate hostility and to reinforce resistance to the very behavior we are seeking.
119 If we wish to express anger fully, the first step is to divorce the other person from any responsibility for our anger.
119 Unless we as social change agents come from a certain kind of spirituality, we’re likely to create more harm than good.
120 Regardless of our many differences, we all have the same needs. What differs is the strategy for fulfilling these needs.
121 Keep in mind that other people’s actions can never ‘make’ you feel any certain way. Feelings are your warning indicators.
121 NVC suggests behind every action, however ineffective, tragic, violent, or abhorrent to us, is an attempt to meet a need.
122 However impressed we may be with NVC concepts, it is only through practice and application that our lives are transformed.
125 Postpone result/solution thinking until later; it’s through connection that solutions materialize – empathy before education.
126 NVC is founded on language and communication skills that strengthen our ability to remain human, even under trying conditions.
129 I wouldn’t expect someone who’s been injured to hear my side until they felt that I had fully understood the depth of their pain.
130 When we are depressed, our thinking blocks us from being aware of our needs, and then being able to take action to meet our needs.
131 Anger is a signal that you’re distracted by judgmental or punitive thinking, and that some precious need of yours is being ignored.
131 Often, instead of offering empathy, we have a strong urge to give advice or reassurance and to explain our own position or feeling.
133 When our communication supports compassionate giving and receiving, happiness replaces violence and grieving! ~ Marshall B. Rosenberg
134 Whether I praise or criticize someone’s action, I imply that I am their judge, that I’m engaged in rating them or what they have done.
134 While we may not consider the way we talk to be ‘violent,’ our words often lead to hurt and pain, whether for others or for ourselves.
135 We can’t win at somebody else’s expense. We can only fully be satisfied when the other person’s needs are fulfilled as well as our own.
139 The intention behind the protective use of force is to prevent injury, never to punish or to cause individuals to suffer, repent or change.
140 Make your goal to attend to your underlying needs and to aim for a resolution so satisfying that everyone involved has their needs met also.
140 Our survival as a species depends on our ability to recognize that our well-being and the well-being of others are in fact one and the same.
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141 The more we use words that in any way imply criticism, the more difficult it is for people to stay connected to the beauty within themselves.
142 Never question the beauty of what you are saying because someone reacts with pain, judgment, criticism. It just means they have not heard you.
145 Use the words “I feel because I” to remind us that what we feel it isn’t because of what the other person did, but because of a choice I’ve made.
148 NVC shows us a way of being very honest, but without any criticism, insults, or putdowns, and without any intellectual diagnosis implying wrongness.
150 Once you have access to key people in an organization, if you go into a meeting with enemy images of those people – then you are not going to connect.
150 We recognize that real educational reform is essential if today’s and tomorrow’s children are to live in a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
152 I believe that the most joyful and intrinsic motivation human beings have for taking any action is the desire to meet our needs and the needs of others.
153 My need is for safety, fun and to have distribution of resources, a sustainable life on the planet. NVC is a strategy that serves me to meet these needs.
155 My ultimate goal is to spend as many of my moments in life as I can in that world that the poet Rumi talks about, ‘a place beyond rightness and wrongness.’
156 Four D’s of Disconnection: 1. Diagnosis (judgment, analysis, criticism, comparison); 2. Denial of Responsibility; 3. Demand; 4. ‘Deserve’ oriented language.
156 Time and again, people transcend the paralyzing effects of psychological pain when they have sufficient contact with someone who can hear them empathically.
158 Praise and reward create a system of extrinsic motivations for behavior. Children (and adults) end up taking action in order to receive the praise or rewards.
158 Two things distinguish nonviolent actions from violent actions. First, you don’t see an enemy and second, your intention is not to make the other side suffer.
159 The more another person’s behavior is not in harmony with my own needs, the more I empathize with them and their needs, the more likely I am to get me own needs met.
161 Violence results when people trick themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.
162 I think that there is a problem with rewards and consequences because in the long run, they rarely work in the ways we hope. In fact, they are likely to backfire.
165 When we sense ourselves being defensive or unable to empathize, we need to (a) stop, breathe, give ourselves empathy, (b) express nonviolently, or (c) take time out.
168 Once you can clearly describe what you are reacting to, free of your interpretation or evaluation of it, other people are less likely to be defensive when they hear it.
170 When we make mistakes, we can use the process of NVC mourning and self-forgiveness to show us where we can grow instead of getting caught up in moralistic self-judgments.
172 NVC is interested in learning that is motivated by reverence for life, by a desire to learn skills, to contribute better to our own well-being and the well-being of others.
176 The best way I can get understanding from another person is to give this person the understanding, too. If I want them to hear my needs and feelings, I first need to empathize.
184 Power-Over leads to punishment and violence. Power-With leads to compassion and understanding, and to learning motivated by reverence for life rather than fear, guilt, shame, or anger.
185 The key to fostering connection in the face of a ‘no’ is always ‘yes’ to something else and, as such, it is the beginning, not the end of a conversation. Hear the ‘Yes’ behind the ‘No’.
186 Nonviolent Communication shows us a way of being very honest, but without any criticism, without any insults, without any putdowns, without any intellectual diagnosis implying wrongness.
194 If we ask two questions, we will see that punishment never works. First: What do we want the other person to do? Second: What do we want the other person’s reasons to be for doing as we request?
195 Labeling and diagnosis is a catastrophic way to communicate. Telling other people what’s wrong with them greatly reduces, almost to zero, the probability that we’re going to get what we’re after.
195 To practice NVC, it’s critical for me to be able to slow down, take my time, to come from an energy I choose, the one I believe that we were meant to come from, not the one I was programmed into.
200 Clinical training in psychoanalysis has a deficit. It teaches how to sit and think about what a person is saying and how to interpret it intellectually, but not how to be fully present to this person.
200 The number one reason that we don’t get our needs met, we don’t express them. We express judgments. If we do express needs, the number two reasons we don’t our needs met, we don’t make clear requests.
201 Before we tackle the gangs and the basic story, we have to make sure that we have liberated ourselves from how we have been educated and make sure we are coming from a spirituality of our own choosing.
209 Conventional compliments often take the form of judgments however positive, and are sometimes offered to manipulate the behavior of others. NVC encourages the expression of appreciation solely for celebration.
218 NVC enhances inner communication by helping us translate negative internal messages into feelings and needs. Our ability to distinguish our own feelings and needs and to empathize with them can free us from depression.
235 Children need far more than basic skills in reading, writing, and math, as important as those might be. Children also need to learn how to think for themselves, how to find meaning in what they learn, and how to work and live together.
243 Our ability to offer empathy can allow us to stay vulnerable, defuse potential violence, help us hear the word ‘no’ without taking it as a rejection, revive lifeless conversation, and even hear the feelings and needs expressed through silence.
248 Life-Enriching Education: an education that prepares children to learn throughout their lives, relate well to others, and themselves, be creative, flexible, and venturesome, and have empathy not only for their immediate kin but for all of humankind
253 To practice NVC, it’s critical for me to be able to slow down, take my time, to come from an energy I choose, the one I believe that we were meant to come from, not the one I was programmed into. I start the day with a remembering of where I want to be.
255 Teacher, school administrators and parents will come away from Life-Enriching Education with skills in language, communication, and ways of structuring the learning environment that support the development of autonomy and interdependence in the classroom.
263 NVC can be effectively applied at all levels of communication and in diverse situations: intimate relationships, families, schools, organizations and institutions, therapy and counseling, diplomatic and business negotiations, disputes and conflicts of any nature.
276 There are the two main reasons we don’t get our needs met. First, we don’t know how to express our needs to begin with and second if we do, we forget to put a clear request after it, or we use vague words like appreciate, listen, recognize, know, be real, and stuff like that.
277 As NVC replaces our old patterns of defending, withdrawing or attacking in the face of judgment and criticism. We come to perceive ourselves and others, as well as our intentions and relationships, in a new light. Resistance, defensiveness, and violent reactions are minimized.
280 Some people use NVC to respond compassionately to themselves, some to create greater depth in their personal relationships, and still others to build effective relationships at work or in the political arena. Worldwide, NVC is used to mediate disputes and conflicts at all levels.
286 Every moment each human being is doing the best we know at that moment to meet our needs. We never do anything that is not in the service of a need, there is no conflict on our planet at the level of needs. We all have the same needs. The problem is in strategies for meeting the needs.
286 There are two things that distinguish truly nonviolent actions from violent actions. First, there is no enemy in the nonviolent point of view. You don’t see an enemy. Your thinking is clearly focused on protecting your needs. Second, your intention is not to make the other side suffer.
336 When we express our needs indirectly through the use of evaluations, interpretations, and images, others are likely to hear criticism. When people hear anything that sounds like criticism, they tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack. It’s important that when we address somebody that we’re clear what we want back.
373 If I’m using Nonviolent Communication I never, never, never hear what somebody thinks about me. Never hear what somebody thinks about you, you’ll live longer. You’ll enjoy life more. Hear the truth. The truth is that when somebody’s telling you what’s wrong with you, the truth is they have a need that isn’t getting met. Hear that they’re in pain. Don’t hear the analysis.
383 Public education for some time has been heavily focused on what curricula we believe will be helpful to students. Life-Enriching Education is based on the premise that the relationship between teachers and students, the relationships of students with one another, and the relationships of students to what they are learning are equally important in preparing students for the future.
482 Conflicts, even of long standing duration, can be resolved if we can just keep the flow of communication going in which people come out of their heads and stop criticizing and analyzing each other, and instead get in touch with their needs, and hear the needs of others, and realize the interdependence that we all have in relation to each other. We can’t win at somebody else’s expense. We can only fully be satisfied when the other person’s needs are fulfilled as well as our own.
517 Peace requires something far more difficult than revenge or merely turning the other cheek; it requires empathizing with the fears and unmet needs that provide the impetus for people to attack each other. Being aware of those feelings and needs, people lose their desires to attack back because they see the human ignorance leading to those attacks. Instead, their goal becomes providing the empathic connection and education that will enable them to transcend their violence and engage in cooperative relationships.’
674 I would like to suggest that when our heads are filled with judgments and analyses that others are bad, greedy, irresponsible, lying, cheating, polluting the environment, valuing profit more than life, or behaving in other ways they shouldn’t, very few of them will be interested in our needs. If we want to protect the environment, and we go to a corporate executive with the attitude, “You know, you are really a killer of the planet, you have no right to abuse the land in this way,” we have severely impaired our chances of getting our needs met. It is a rare human being who can maintain focus on our needs when we are expressing them through images of their wrongness.
865 I would like us to create peace at three levels and have each of us to know how to do it. First, within ourselves. That is to know how we can be peaceful with ourselves when we’re less than perfect, for example. How we can learn from our limitations without blaming and punishing our self. If we can’t do that, I’m not too optimistic how we’re going to relate peacefully out in the world. Second, between people. Nonviolent Communication training shows people how to create peace within themselves and at the same time how to create connections with other people that allows compassionate giving to take place naturally. And third, in our social systems. To look out at the structures that we’ve created, the governmental structures and other structures, and to look at whether they support peaceful connections between us and if not, to transform those structures.