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What is effective, nonviolent communication, and why should it matter to you—and your workplace?

The joy of nonviolent communication for you and your workplace


Do you ever wonder whether you could do more in your working life to make better relationships, and create a more enjoyable and productive experience for all, as you go through your daily activities?
I have observed, both in my work with individual clients and in my years of organizational consulting, that there is a largely unconscious assumption by the bulk of society that the workplace operates and should operate by different rules than the rest of life. Some unstated rules: Don’t show emotion; be neutral and detached; an unemotional mind gets the best results; “it’s just business”.
The result of the above approach, however, is dissatisfaction, depression, substance abuse, absenteeism, and ultimately, employee turnover. In addition, shouldn’t we all be concerned with making the workplace a more positive experience for everyone who works there, from mailroom staff to the CEO?

How Does It Work?

If we want to have the most positive impact for others and for ourselves, it is vital to also realize that every single thing that happens at work is a human experience, experienced by individuals who want happiness and who want to avoid suffering. That reality is universal, whether in the workplace, at home, or anywhere else. So, how can this reality be applied in the workplace?
I have helped business owners and senior executives, as well as workers in various positions in organizations, use broader awareness and skilled communication, to find better results in the workplace.
In one case, a lively and results-oriented division manager in a government organization reported that she often felt that workers were feeling unsatisfied with her communications, and that she herself felt that she was abrupt, without being sure how to change that. I helped her start actual practices that brought more life and authenticity to the workplace relationships. She has reported that the level of enthusiasm and comradery in the workplace has increased dramatically.
In another case, a senior executive in a large, international manufacturer was concerned with serious “political” conflict in the organization, and he was caught in the middle of it. By helping him truly realize that every one of the players in this situation are human beings with needs to feel attended to, he was able to be authentic and more kind, and thus reduce the conflict that arose from an initial attitude of scarcity i.e. not being valued. That resulted in a major career advancement.

Principles for a Better Workplace

The insights and methods that, collectively, are known as “Nonviolent Communication” (or NVC) are focused on exactly what we need in terms of self-awareness as well as expression in our lives, in order to create a more life-affirming experience for all those around us, and ourselves.
Some key concepts in Nonviolent Communication are:
  • Making requests rather than demands
  • Sharing feelings and needs before analysis; this especially comes into play when groups within an organization want differing approaches and outcomes
  • Understanding the difference between observations and interpretations
  • Vulnerability
All of these are powerful, effective practices in communicating, and form a foundation for effective leadership. I will be going through each of the above points in subsequent articles to provide more clarity of exactly what these are about and their importance.


Here is one article with a good deal of research content, so you can be assured these statements are not just (my) opinions. Although the article is not speaking about nonviolent communication by name, the article points to many of the same factors: clarity of information and requests; listening as well as speaking; making communication personal and engaging; and so on. There are many articles and much research on communication in the workplace. Here is another article on the value of communication in the workplace, with additional links for research results.
Summarizing results of various research: in many organizations, a significant portion of staff members are fearful or unhappy showing up for work; colleagues may be in conflicting cliques; and management and co-workers may not be seen as allies but rather as taskmasters and as competitors. The result is more sick days, more turnover, and less collaboration, all of which negatively affect the organization’s results as well as the morale and enjoyment of a large part of each work day.


If we want a better experience of life, and better results, at work or at play, with more connection and with rewarding collaboration, we all need better self-awareness and better expression through communication. Nonviolent Communication is a deeply engaging approach to find a more life-affirming way of living. Practicing NVC benefits oneself as well as coworkers, friends, and acquaintances.
NVC practice and principles also benefit those who are in conflict with each other, or who simply cannot seem to find the peace and meaning in everyday life that they want. As mentioned before, all of our experiences are connected with other human beings, and strong expression of who we are as human beings and strong connections with others, makes each moment and each day more fulfilling and meaningful.
Contact me at (718) 229-2609 if you would like to discuss these concepts, and how they might apply to you and to your organization.