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Exercise, Info session

Work-shop on non-violent communication

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This is a work-shop on non-violent communication that can last up to 3 hours. It is better to have a group of no more than 15 people.

Aims of the tool

Aim: to take a taste of nonviolent communication in relation to conflict transformation, advocating for human rights, implementing youth initiatives in field of peace-building


1. To provide a space for obtaining active listening, free of evaluation observation skills;
2. To draw the attention of participants to the importance of identifying and open expression of needs and related feelings of parties involved in communication in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment;
3. To address the issue of connection and empathy in communication
4. To provide a space for learning how to make open requests without demanding

Description of the tool

The session is focused around key aspects of theory of non-violent communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg. It focuses on two aspects of communication: honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others) and empathy (defined as listening with deep compassion).
Formal NVC self-expression follows four steps: making neutral observations, expressing feelings without justification or interpretation, expressing needs drawing from a list of fundamental human needs and making clear, concrete, feasible requests. In response, the listener may build empathy with the speaker by responding with reworded versions of the speaker's own statements ("I hear you saying that...."), thus confirming for them that they have been heard and understood.
15.00-15.10 Intro to the workshop and key ideas and principles of non-violent communication. Introducing 2 Parts and 4 Components of NVC

empathetically listening:
requests honestly expressing:
The four steps, when used in "self-expression" mode, work like this:
1. To observe without evaluation, judgment, or analysis,
2. To express feelings that these observations evoke,
3. To express needs connected with these feelings,
4. (optional) To make a specific request of another person to help meet an unmet need, and to enrich life of everyone involved. Essential in this is that the other person is to be left free to honour or decline the request.
15.10-15.30 Connection.
Just after entering the room participants are asked to connect to each other visually. For this purpose the circle is being formed and one by one each participant should take a place in the centre and visually without any words greet by eyes everyone. Then they get more time (around 3 minutes to connect in any other way they find appropriate to all people in a group trying to focus more on people they had not so much connection by this time. A short feed-back. (What did we do? Why? How it is linked with nonviolent communication?)

15.30-15.55 Active listening and observation.

Working in trios. Two participants are talking (one is supposed to tell about the highlight of summer vacation and the other should be active listening, then they change – and now the one should tell the story of the unpleasant moment of his summer vacation – each one not more than 3 minutes) and the other should be active listening. The observer is supposed to observe and give short feed-back to the each one in the couple focusing on active listnening skills. The couple should also exchange their feelings - at which moment they felt that the partner listens attentively and when they did not have this feeling. Why?
Debriefing for the whole group:
 Was it hard or easy for all?
 What techniques we use to be an active listener? Writing them on a flipchart.
 Difference between observation and evaluation.
Collecting ideas how to be an active listener. Trainer adds those principles that participants miss and also shares some hints.

15.55-16.15 Needs and feelings
 Individual exercise. Think about something in your life you are not happy with the situation and create one static line that describes that situation – like “he never listens to me”/ close you eyes and repeat this sentence 10 times and notice what is happening in your body when you do that. Short feed-back: What did you notice? What is happening? Is it a neutral observation? Why you can not be neutral in this case?
 Introduction to the forest of feelings. Which feelings do you get in this case? Step there. Some short comments.
 Introduction to the forest of needs. Which of your need is not satisfied in this case? Step there. Some short comments. (Linking needs met or unmet with feelings)
 The trainer reads several situations and participants should stay in the forest of feelings and then switch to the forest of needs (satisfied or unsatisfied).
For example ( trainer can choose two or three – we have chosen three):
1. When you are in a hurry to the airport and there is a huge traffic jam
2. When you are relaxed
3. When you witnessed offense and aggression towards an elderly person
4. You are tired after a long day of work and you have to help boss whom you dont like
5. After you have typed 20 pages of an important essay and your computer dies
6. When some important and respected by you people made very positive remarks about project you implemented
 Participants are encouraged to bring a couple of examples from their life when they felt ….. because their need of ….. was met or unmet
 Conclusion. Can be coming back to the first situation individually. Translate your sentence into something like “I love it when...” and “when” part is what you warning in the situation – “I love it when things are predictable”. Close your eyes and repeat and notice what happens in your body. What did you notice? What is happening? What happened to your breathing?

16.15-16.25 Requesting
 How would you say it to a person? Some answers collected from a group. Some ideas how it should be done.
 How to make request specific, positive, doable and in the present moment? Brainstorming paryticipants.
 Introducing a pattern
Observation: When you [see, hear, etc] ....
Feeling: Are you feeling .....
Need: Because you need .....
Request: And would you like .....?
 Practicing. Was something here in a group or even during this workshop that irritated you? Say it in a non-violent communication way.
16.25-16.30 Summary of Principles of Nonviolent Communication. Movie on youtube with short summarizing.
Questions, answers, links. The main link would be: The centre for non-violent communication

Available downloads:


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SALTO cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

Tool overview

This tool is for

youth, youth workers and leaders, other people interested in improving their communication style

and addresses

Group Dynamics, Intercultural Learning, Personal Development, Conflict Management, Peer education

Materials needed:

Screen, calm cosy space, projector, A4 papers, flipchart, computer connected to the Internet


from 1.5 till 3 hours

Behind the tool

The tool was created by

Seminar within "Youth peace ambassadors" project of Council of Europe

in the context of

Ruzanna Ivanian within "Youth peace ambassadors" project of Council of Europe. The tool was inspired by theory of non-violent communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg.

The tool has been experimented in

Seminar within "Youth peace ambassadors" project of Council of Europe

The tool was published to the Toolbox by

Ruzanna Ivanian (on 1 November 2011)

and last modified

9 October 2011

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