Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Trainer Report

Each year, trainers who want to remain certified with the Center for Nonviolent Communication agree to publish a report for CNVC. This report is generally seen only by other trainers, board members and staff of CNVC. I thought it might be fun and hopefully inspiring for others if I published my report here. I'd love to hear from you if any of your needs are met by reading it...




Jori and I facilitated almost 200 “training events” in 2005, ranging from small regular practice groups, to weekend workshops in New Mexico and Georgia, as well as introducing NVC in the local jail to both inmates and supervisors. We were "on the air" again for two radio interviews, and helped to produce a 3 day "Marshall event" in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We also got our "foot in the door" with Albuquerque Public Schools, one of the largest school systems in the US.

I took a two-month hiatus from mid-March through mid-May to support my parents as my father recovered form a heart valve replacement. The highlight of the year for me was our journey to support the Peace Army in Costa Rica. We also participated in dozens of mediations and facilitated meetings, as well as “coaching” sessions. For the first time since creating a "career" based on peace-making in 1993, we achieved financial sustainability.

Workshop #attendees
January Intensive 7
Tierra Madre Realty training Foundations 6
Intro at First Church of Religious Science 35
APS Mediation Retreat: Dealing with Difficult Messages 12
The Power oF Empathy & Gratitude 7
KSFR radio interview w/ Diego 5000
KUNM radio interview w/ Halima & Stephen Weiss 10000
Weekly Practice group (Mon, Sun) 29
Intermediate Series - NVC Consciousness 6
Intro 14
Empathy Theatre 10
Practice group 13
Foundations 14
APS Living with Loss 150
NM Mediation Assn: The Heart of Mediation 20
Peace Fair 50
Salt of the Earth Intro 9
Intro 2
Intro, Park Terrace Apts 3
Intro, Athens, GA 50
Athens, GA weekend workshop 27
Foundations am 6
Foundatons pm 9
Foundations 2 7
Intro: Bernalillo County detention Center inmates 18
Intro: Peals of the Antilles Art Gallery 3
Transforming Inner Conflict 8
Intro SecruityRE Insurance Co (Two trainings) 16
Intro High Desert Yoga 30
Intro New Life Presbyterian Church 4
Foundations 2 8
Foundations 1 9
Bahai 16
Relationships 6
intro 10
Compassionate Families 15
Foundations 2 8
mediation 8
Foundations 1 18
YogaNow 6
Hogares 22
mediation/UNM 28
Jail supervisors 42
jail inmates 50
Costa Rica 385
Eye Care Office 14
Bahai 12
Total: Approximately 16000

We have 2 ongoing practice groups that we facilitate; one has been going for about 3 years. 2.5 hours/week. The other, focused on families, started in August. Participation ranges from 18 to 2.

PRESENTATIONS. We hosted several community-building events at our home throughout the year, including our annual Interdependence Day celebration that coincides with the July 4 holiday in the US. We also promoted and helped produce an MBR event which drew at least 200 participants. We participated in a radio interview on KSFR, Public Radio in Santa Fe and KUNM in Santa Fe. Our website continued to reach out to folks throughout NM and beyond.

Our training experience in Costa Rica. We participated in a series of events coordinated by the Rasur Foundation and Rita Marie Johnson, including a national symposium co-sponsored by the Arias Foundation. We trained Peace Army volunteer trainers, as well as Ticos from all walks of life.


We remain actively involved with the NM Network for NVC a 501C(3) oganization, which continues its mission of spreading NVC through our twice-monthly e-mailings and continuously updated website, nvc-nm.org. We helped to promote and produce MBR's 3 day visit to ABQ and Santa Fe.
We forged and maintained alliances with the Peace Army of Costa Rica, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Sikh Dharma/3HO, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, NM Mediation Association, First Church of Religious Science, Bahai of Albuquerque, Zen Peacemakers, Rainbow Sangha, as well as CNVC. Practice Groups continue in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Taos, and Mountainair..
Jori became a board member and is now the interim director of CNVC.



Participants generally express how their needs are met during our training. I have come to most enjoy hearing when participants' needs have not been met, as I almost always learn something valuable from that kind of feedback.

I have grown from feedback about pacing, clarity, expressing desired training outcomes, modeling empathy and honesty and observing and adjusting to group dynamics. My understanding of the NVC process has deepened and I celebrate that I am actualizing NVC consciousness more in my life. I marvel at the transformational power of NVC!


I have deeply enjoyed connecting with the life-enriching power of gratitude. I disovered a self-connection/gratitude process that sustained me during my 2 months living with my parents which involved a periodic conscious scan of the state of my needs, celebrating and savoring the needs that are met in any given moment and choosing to attend and to and mourn my unmet needs.

My "edge" continues to be cultivating the courage to speak my needs and requests with honesty. I celebrate that I have grown in this area, and also recognize that speaking up for my needs "goes against the grain" of my habitual tendency to stifle my needs in favor of others.

Last year, my "word" was vigor. I feel happy (and energized) to report that my connection to my personal power was deeply enhanced last year. I developed new life-affirming habits to support me in creating the world I want to live in!

This year, my word is gratitude. I intend to continue the gratitude binge I have begun, with the intention of savoring every morsel life offers me, working to expand my gratitude to the "lesson-bearers" who help me to connect with the edges of my growth and integration of NVC consciousness.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Join me in my continuing gratitude binge!

As a Nonviolent Communication trainer, I have come to understand that gratitude is not only a necessary staple of my daily diet, it is also a powerful tool of transformation. I just can't get enough of it, so I've decided to binge on gratitude! Wanna indulge?

In Nonviolent Communication we offer these simple steps to connect with gratitude:

1. Think of something someone did that made your life more wonderful. Be specific!
e.g. My friend Jean brought my hat back to me after I thought I had lost it.
2. Consider what need of yours is met by this behavior. Needs are universal resources required to sustain and enrich life.
e.g. That met my need for support and community.
3. How do you feel right now as you connect with how that behavior met your need?
e.g. I feel content and gratitude!
4. SAVOR the feeling of a met need. When our needs our met, we naturally feel pleasant feelings. Connecting with these pleasurable feelings helps to sustain and enrich our life!
5. Then, if you REALLY want to enhance the planet, share your gratitude with the person who made your life more wonderful.
e.g. Jean, when you brought me my hat back it really met my need for support and community. I feel so grateful and content! I wonder how you feel hearing my gratitude?

I'd love to hear from you how you have used gratitude to transform your relationships and enrich your life!

Connection can lead to peace!

Greetings, friends,
One of my "habits" is scanning the news for indications of transformation, interdependence and growth. I experience the strategy as a life-affirming antidote to the news generally served up in the headlines. Here's a story I found today that reminds me of how important connection can be to building peace-even if the connection is made of iron and wood!

from seattlepi.com.


Rail link restored between India, Pakistan
KARACHI, Pakistan -- Pakistan and India on Saturday restored
train service along a line that was severed during their war 40
years ago, establishing a second rail link between the two South
Asian rivals.

Read the full article here

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Empathizing with Anger, Part 2 (Responding to William's comment)


Sounds like my empathic guess (about "protecting anyone from anger") did not meet your need for respect or understanding?

I am appreciating in the moment how you became aware of your own jackal and chose to pause before responding. That meets my need for integrity and respect. I wonder how you feel reading my gratitude?

Now, on to the substance of your question, using the word anger in an "empathy pass".

A few things are coming up for me. First, a quote from Marshall: "Never think that what you say is empathy...empathy is where we place our attention." So, for me, I want to remember to keep my focus on observations, feelings, needs, and requests, my presence in the here and now and offer lots of space, i.e. silence to the person I am listening to. Focus, Presence and Space make up about 99% of empathy.

Now, sometimes I may connect with a need that might stimulate a desire in me to offer a verbal reflection of my empathy, an "empathy pass". For me it is vital to stay connected to what need I am hoping to meet with the pass. Sometimes I feel lost in the words of the other, so to meet my need for clarity I offer a pass. Other times I might compassionately connect (guess) that the other might enjoy hearing a reflection of what I hear is going on in them. Then, to meet MY need for contribution (in order to help meet their need for understanding, empathy, acknowledgment, etc) I may verbally reflect in the form of a guess the feelings and needs I heard of the other.

It is important for me to remember that a "pass" of empathy is a strategy...a strategy to meet needs. And like all strategies, you win some and you lose some. I agree with the other trainers that you have heard who said acknowledging another's anger (with the word anger, angry, etc) could have the opposite effect of what one might expect (adding gasoline to a fire). I personally have never had that experience (yet) when I offer my pass as a heartfelt question to meet my need for contribution to their understanding.

I have made an attempted pass that ends in a period with the kind of results you have heard from others. (E. g. "So you're feeling angry because you didn't get what you wanted.") Notice there are two parts of that pass that are less likely to inspire deeper connection: 1. I ended in a period, which is likely to be heard as a diagnosis or criticism. 2. I linked the feeling to the other's thinking, not their need. This is almost guaranteed to provide gasoline to the fire!

On the other hand, in the presence of someone who has said they feel angry and is displaying behavior I associate with anger, I have guessed to get "underneath" their anger, maybe something like "Are you feeling deeply hurt because your need for respect is not met?" And the response I received was akin to throwing gas on a fire as they responded, "No, I'm not hurt! Aren't you listening to me, I just said I was angry!"

In either case, if we stay with the process and recognize that the response of the other is a new observation, we can choose how we want to respond. (Jackal ears in or out OR giraffe ears in or out.)

I believe that an empathic connection is more likely when we leave all agendas, beliefs, strategies, and the like at the door before moving into deep empathy with another. I want to cultivate a presence with the other person, allowing myself to continually "go back" to their feelings and needs, while at the same time staying connected to myself.

When I notice any tendency to want to fix the other, protect the other, advise, cheer up, heal, transform, etc, I want to let that be a wake-up call that maybe I need empathy in the moment. None of those tendencies support empathy!

I want to pause long enough to determine whether or not I can put my needs "on the shelf" temporarily in order to return to empathy. If not, I'm not doing anyone a service by continuing to pretend to empathize. For me, it would be more life-serving in that moment to reveal nakedly my honesty, saying something like, "You know, I'm feeling really torn right now; I really want you to get your need for understanding and empathy met, and at the same time I recognize that I am in pain right now and having trouble staying connected with you. Would you be willing to tell me what you heard me say?" I am predicting that his quality of honesty is likely to lead to the kind of connection that is my intention

I wonder if this mets your need for clarity and learning? I look forward to hearing what comes up for you.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Empathizing with Anger

Greetings, Friends,

I recently received this and wanted to share it with you all. Your comments are welcome!



I find myself confused about a question I had recently asked at a practice group on the topic of anger. The question went something like, is it advisable to identify anger as a feeling in an empathy pass to some one that is angry? I’m wondering if there is a willingness to have an email dialogue over this topic.

I am grateful for the opportunity to comment on your question.

First, I want to get clarity on what my intention is in offering an "empathy pass". For its crystal brevity, I enjoy Marshall's definition of empathy as "a respectful understanding of another person's experience." So when I'm empathizing with another, that's the quality of connection I am aspiring to. How do you feel reading that?

Secondly, I'm guessing that you are wanting information on using the word "anger" in a verbal reflection of empathy, such as, "are you feeling angry because you have a need for respect that isn't met in this situation?" Poner, I wonder if you are feeling concerned around the well-being of the speaker, perhaps wanting to protect them from their feeling of anger? Or are you wanting to support the speaker in deeper self connection? I'm trying to connect with your understanding of "advisable". Did I get it?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Monthly Update: Celebrations

I see celebration as a need, a resource required to sustain and enrich life. Celebration can take many forms, from a simple nod to someone who has helped you to a full expression of gratitude using "classical NVC". Celebration also includes connecting to the beauty of needs through mourning, a deep and empathic understanding of the pain of unmet needs.

We've lived in Montrose for about a month now, and I wanted to share some of my celebrations with you to meet a need for connection, learning and intimacy.

In this moment, I am most grateful for the tools to connect with feelings and needs offered through Nonviolent Communication. I know I felt grateful at various times and places through my life before I learned about NVC, and I celebrate the richness the NVC model has given me to more consciously experience gratitude and to express it to others.

Many friends and family have written or called since we have been here. This has enriched my inbox, and more importantly nourished my soul through meeting my ongoing needs for connection, information, and love. I feel warm, right now, savoring the joy of that connection.

The folks in the CNVC office, including departing Executive Director Gary Baran, have done about a million things to make my life more wonderful. Here's one specific example: Angelique, who has worked at CNVC longer than anyone else currently on the staff, asked me if I would be willing to take her to LAX. This request was such a gift to me on so many levels. First, it met my need for intimacy and connection, because it wasn't hard for me to empathize with the challenge of asking someone for support. Second, it opened up an opportunity to connect with her more deeply on the drive to the airport. Third, I was able to apply some creativity and find a way to combine the journey to LAX with other opportunities to meet needs, including facilitating the Santa Monica Practice Group last night. So, I am celebrating the power of a request, especially a scary one to make! We never know what opportunities will open as we consider the requests of another or the responses of another to our requests.

And, I feel waves of appreciation coming up in me for Jori. Her work to help usher in a new era of transformation within CNVC touches me deeply. Watching her interact with empathy and honesty with the CNVC staff has met my need for inspiration and hope that we can transform this world into a world centered on the awareness of our mutual needs. It has also met my need for authenticity, seeing that this is not always an easy or fun process; that sometimes the messages we receive or send to others are not as easy to understand as we would like, even though we are speaking a common language or two, like "English" and "Giraffe". Yet, I feel amazed and pleased right now connecting with how the intention to connect and keeping a focus on the present moment holds the potential to transform any interaction into one that builds empathy and trust.

The other branch of celebration is mourning our unmet needs. In a few days I intend to travel back to Albuquerque. Contemplating this trip is bringing up some mourning of what I miss in New Mexico. Oh, how I long for the quiet of our North Valley property. Even with the gentle hum of the traffic on MontaƱo about a 1/2 mile away, there is an air of tranquility that is absent in Montrose. Here the sound is incessant, more like a dull roar, as 11 million people move themselves around on a complex network of freeways. I miss the sound of the birds singing in my backyard, although as I wrote that line, I was somehow able to hear some birds here! What a surprise!

I also miss family and friends. My daughter lives only about a mile away from our house, and I miss the ease and reassurance that seems to come from that proximity. I miss hearing about the day to day experiences of Jiva, my son, and Steve, who is sharing our house with us. I miss interacting with Curious the Cat, who lives with Steve; and I miss Socks, Jaya's cat who lived with us for almost a year. And I miss my disc golf games with River. What a joy to pick up the phone on a whim and within a half hour being able to walk through Netherwood Park with its magnificent views of the Sandias. I have not yet re-created those kinds of connection here. I worry that I never could.

I feel touched and tearful as I post this. Writing this has helped me to connect more deeply with my feelings and needs. I wonder what reading it has stirred in you. Would you be willing to comment, or send me an email @ nvctrainer@gmail.com?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I have often heard Marshall speak of the race riot that engulfed Detroit when he moved their as a child in 1943. In an interview with Terry McKnally on KPFK radio, Marshall says, "I was living in Detroit at the time. My family had just moved there—just in time for the race riots of 1943, and we were locked in the house for four days while the riots went on, and there were about 32 people killed in our neighborhood, and that was a very powerful learning experience for me as a young boy. It taught me that this is a world where things like your skin color or your name could be a stimulus for violence. And that put in my head a question that's been there ever since; which is: What happens to people that they enjoy other people's suffering? That they want to hurt people?"

I remember similar thoughts responding to the race riots of 1965 in the Watts neighborhood of LA. I was 9 years old, safely nestled in my parents' home on the "white side" of the railroad tracks that ran down the middle of Smyrna, GA. I watched in horror and fear as the tv images showed people being beaten and killed. I felt confused, disgusted, and deeply saddened, telling myself that there had to be a better way to work out differences than killing each other because of the color of skin. I also remember anger and fear arising when I heard people like Lester Maddox, George Wallace, and J. B. Stoner espouse their hatred in newspapers and television stories.

I am grateful that, although I grew up in that protected suburb of Atlanta in the heart of the Deep South, my parents raised me to respect people without regard for race. Although there is no doubt that my mind and heart were affected by the institutionalized racism of Georgia in the 50's and 60's, my mother especially encouraged me to see that we were all human, brothers and sisters in the human family.

I gained an even deeper understanding of racism when my mother encouraged me to read Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. Griffin, a white man, underwent a procedure to darken his skin to go "undercover" and report back to the world what it was like to be African-American during the late 50's when the US was a deeply segregated society. I remember feeling stunned at the wide range of hatred endured by Griffin as he attempted to survive in America in a time before the Civil Rights movment emerged. It made a deep impression on my young mind.

I feel curious now, having read all this, what feelings and needs are you in touch with? I'd enjoy reading your comments!

For more information on the 1943 Detroit riot, read this/
For more information on the Watts riot of 1965, read this/
For more information on Black Like Me, read this/.
For Marshall's complete interview with Terry McKnally, click this/

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Greetings all,

I am feeling amazed at the moment at how much time can be "eaten up" writing emails! I sent some thank you notes to friends we connected with in Oakland this weekend, and all of the sudden its 9:30 pm and I still haven't gotten the NVC-NM newsletter out.

Today at the CNVC office I facilitated a session on gratitude and used the following as our remembrance. I wanted to pass it on to you in the hopes of meeting a need for contribution and inspiration...


Life-Enriching Organizational Structures
Q: What needs are fulfilled in life-enriching structures?
MR: Life-enriching structures—the kind of structures that I would like to see us creating and participating in—are structures whose vision is to serve life. And how do we know if an organization—whether it's a family, or work team, or government—is a life-serving organization? We find out by asking: Is its mission to meet the needs and enrich the lives of people within—and affected by—the organization?
And what do people need? Money is not a need. It's a strategy that sometimes might meet a need. Fame is not a need. Status is not a need. These are things that domination structures use to mislead people—take a real need and misrepresent it, and get people to think that these false things are the needs. So, a life-enriching organization, in fact, serves life, serves needs.
Next, all work done within a life-enriching structure is motivated by the mission. Not by money, not by salary, not by position, not by status. Every bit of work that a person does is coming from this joy of meeting that mission. And life-enriching organizations give the workers within them the nurturing they need to live that mission. Now, here's where money comes into play. They might get a salary for some food for their family and themselves, but that's not why they're doing the work. They're motivated to do the work purely by the life-serving mission. But the most important part of an organization in this respect isn't the money. A life-enriching organization must be set up to do very well to get genuine gratitude to every worker. That's the fuel necessary to keep people working in a life-enriching organization: sincere gratitude. When you do so people can see how their efforts are instrumental in the life-serving mission.

Want more? Marshall Rosenberg on Applying NVC/