Nonviolent communication

Letter by Cedric Knight, London

I would like to belatedly thank Robbie Spence (PN 2528) for his clarifying comments on my summary of nonviolent communication (NVC). I agree entirely that a focus on understanding and compassion is the core of NVC. The article plunged straight into the detailed process only because I thought that might best list types of non-judgemental communication and I couldn’t think of a better way of explaining what “type of thing” NVC is. (As someone who only occasionally puts it into practice, I find following the formula sometimes provokes defensive responses at first because my attempt to be honest and understand and empathise unsurprisingly is not trusted, so the compassionate focus is important.)

Secondly, I did understand that Marshall Rosenberg intended a distinction between protective “force” and “violence”, but the exact method of determining which was which wasn’t explicit. Where do various reasons for incarceration fall, for example? They appear to rely on a decision not to listen to and respect needs of an individual.

I am as one with Robbie on his final point, that NVC can have a role in challenging “domination culture”; indeed I suggested the article because I hoped it resonated with PN’s aims as printed on p2 of each issue.