Compassionate Communication Context and Principles

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Inspiration             Principles & Benefits         The Four Step Model



Our teaching is based on the life's work of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.  Marshall's book, Nonviolent Communication; A Language of Life, is the text we work from and recommend to all who are interested in the Compassionate Communication model and consciousness.  To jump to the Puddledancer Press page where you can purchase the book online, click on the book at left.  Puddledancer Press also carries other books by Marshall, as well as related books and lots of information about NVC.

We have been deeply inspired by Marshall and his work.  Both of us have attended workshops with Marshall, including a nine-day intensive residential training, and highly recommend seeing him in person if you get the chance.  To view Marshall's schedule and also tons of information on NVC worldwide, visit the website of the national NVC organization, The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC).  Marshall's schedule can be found here



"All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished."   ~Marshall Rosenberg


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Principles and Benefits

Compassionate Communication, also called Nonviolent Communication (NVC), is a simple and profound shift in thinking and speaking habits.  Its purpose is to nurture a quality of connection that supports making life wonderful for each other and in which all needs get met through joyful giving.


Our culture’s domination model:

Key NVC principles, with practical benefits:

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Compassionate Communication Four Step Model


Four Steps

Properties of Each Step Watch for

Observation (Clarity)

The concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being

Specific, precise, tangible, inarguable, establishes common ground Evaluation/interpretation, criticism, subjectivity, vagueness, exaggeration (always, never, etc.)

Feelings (Heart)

How we feel in relation to what we are observing

Internal, vulnerable, emotions Blame, believing our stories, non-feeling words

Needs (Heart)

The needs, values, desires, etc. that are creating our feelings

Universal, life supporting and enriching Confusion with strategies, attachment to specific actions, people, etc.

Requests (Clarity)

The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives (strategies for meeting our needs)

Doable, present, positive, specific Vague, not doable, negative (don’t-able), future, demand, criticism, attachment to yes

The clarity steps enable help; the heart steps inspire help. These steps apply whether speaking or listening and whether one’s needs are met or unmet. For example:

When speaking: “When I see/hear/notice ___________________, I feel ____________________ because I am needing/wanting _________________. Would you be willing to __________________?”


When listening: “When you see/hear/notice _______________, do you feel ________________ because you are needing/wanting ___________?”  (Sometimes: “Are you wondering if I am willing to _____________?”)

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“Which game do you want to play: Who’s Right or Let’s Make Life More Wonderful?”
~Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.


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