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Do You Want to "Be Right" or Have Meaningful Relationships? You Can't Have Both!
By Kelly Bryson

My female friend had just announced to me in a highly irritated tone, “I want to talk to you right now!” And I answered, “You know, that tone triggers a lot of fear for me so I want to just continue to lay here looking at the ceiling.” Keep reading this article >>

Being Me, Loving You: A Simple Exercise to Inspire Connection with a Loved One
Answered by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

In this simple exercise, Marshall Rosenberg touches on some of the key aspects of applying NVC to create loving relationships with our intimate partner, friends, and family while maintaining our own autonomy, personal integrity, and values. Complete this exercise now with someone close to you and watch powerful connections transpire. Keep reading this article >>  

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“I never have to worry about another person’s response, only how I react to what they say.”

Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

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World-renowned author, peacemaker, and conflict resolution expert, Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. talks about the keys to prevent all forms of conflict and violence in this 10-minute video.


Do You Want to Be Right? continued

“Asshole!!!” She says like a champion dart thrower, and then all in one motion, turns on her heal and storms out of the room. Suddenly, I felt like a hit and run victim. Shock waves of shame shot through me as the mushroom cloud of my worthlessness rose inside of me.

How could my sweet childlike honesty trigger such a verbally vile response? I decided to project the “inner critic show” going on in my head onto the ceiling. The first character on stage is my original coping mechanism, my Neurotic, who blames himself whenever there is conflict.

“Look at you, you’re pathetic. You can’t even be there for your friend in her hour of need. And you call yourself a teacher of Compassionate Communication.”

As I started to put the shattered pieces of my ego back together, the roar of righteous indignation rose in my belly. Enter my Character Disorder who blames others whenever there is conflict.

“Who the hell does she think she is? I’m not putting up with this rude, verbally abusive, boundary-invading, perpetrator behavior!” It was of some relief to have my inner critic focus on someone else for a moment.

Then my education pays off as my Therapist Complex offers the final analysis: “She is obviously suffering from a pseudo narcissistic personality disorder with paranoid borderline tendencies.”

Then (thank goodness), I remembered what Marshall Rosenberg said: “All judgments are a tragic expressions of unmet needs.”

So I started to look for the pain in my body. Oh there it is - OUTRAGE. And what are the universal human needs underneath my outrage? Respect, gentleness, safety. What else is in there, because I know anger never comes alone. There is always hurt or fear or something under it. Now I can feel it - devastating hurt and a need for reassurance that I am valued.

As I lay there giving myself empathy (i.e. paying attention to, and feeling into, what my reaction was all about), I start to feel a relieving shift in my body. I begin to wonder if my friend is experiencing the same thing - hurt and needing reassurance that she is valued.

“When I heard you call me an asshole a while ago, were you feeling angry and hurt because you were really needing reassurance that your need to be heard really mattered?” Her eyes started to fill with tears and a faint outline of a smile started to creep across her lips as she said, “It’s about time asshole.”

“Yes, I’m guessing that was painful for you and you would have liked this quality of listening earlier.” I said. “Yes,” she said, the tears now flowing freely. “But I am also relieved that you waited till you were ready to do so instead of trying to give me empathy from Hell and then resenting me.”

How beautiful to finally see the truth behind “asshole.” How beautiful to finally hear that my dear friend is in pain and wanting some reassurance from me that she mattered. This allowed me to actually enjoy my partner’s pain. I don’t mean this in the sadistic sense. I mean that there is a distinct joy in the intimacy of feeling the same feeling with another even if it is some type of pain.

There is also a sense of relief in the awareness that as I am present to my partner’s pain she is being assisted in going deeper into, and therefore through, her pain. As John Bradshaw says, “the quickest way out of pain is through it.”

I am glad I gave her my honesty (that the tone had triggered fear and that I wanted to lay there a while), because it ultimately led to a deeper level of intimacy.

Kelly Bryson MA, MFT, is a CNVC certified trainer and the author of the best selling book, Don’t be Nice, Be Real: Balancing Passion for Self with Compassion for Others. Kelly is a humorist, singer, inspirational speaker, and licensed therapist in private practice. Learn more about his work, find about his private or phone-based sessions, and buy his book at www.LanguageOfCompassion.com or by phone 831-462-EARS (3277) (most insurance accepted).

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:




"As I lay there
giving myself empathy,
I start to feel a relieving
shift in my body."

- Kelly Bryson


Being Me, Loving You, continued

I’m going to ask you four questions related to your relationship to an intimate partner or spouse. If you want to focus on some other relationship, pick someone you’re close to, perhaps a good friend.

Write down your answer to each of the four questions below as though you were asked by this other person. Reader: We invite you to do this on your own on a sheet of paper.)

The first question: Would you tell me one thing that I do as your partner or friend that makes life less than wonderful for you?

You see, I don’t want to take any action or say anything that doesn’t enrich your life. So it would be a great service if, anytime I do something that isn’t enriching your life, you bring that to my attention. Could you think of one thing that I do - or don’t do - that makes life less than wonderful for you? Write down that one thing.

Now the second question. Not only do I want to know what I do that makes life less than wonderful for you, it’s also important for me to be able to connect with your feelings moment by moment. To be able to play the game of giving to each other from our hearts, your feelings are critical and I need to be aware of them. It’s stimulating when we can be in touch with each other’s feelings.

My second question then: Think of your answer to question number 1. When I do this thing, how do you feel? Write down how you feel.

Let’s move to the third question. I realize that how we feel is a result of our needs — when our needs are getting fulfilled, then we have feelings that fall under the heading of “pleasurable feelings,” like happy, satisfied, joyful, blissful, content . . . and when our needs are not being satisfied, we have the kind of feelings that you just wrote down.

So this is question three: What needs of yours are not getting met?

I’d like you to tell me why you feel the way you do in terms of your needs: “I feel as I do because I would have liked _____ (or because I was wanting, wishing, or hoping for ______.)” Write down what you need in this format.

Now I imagine you are excited because you want to get on to the final question, which is the center of life for all NVC speaking people.

Question four: I am aware that I am doing something that is not enriching your life and that you have certain feelings about that. You’ve told me what needs of yours are not getting fulfilled. Now, please tell me what I can do to enrich your life?

NVC is about clearly communicating those four things to other people at any given moment.

Of course, the situation is not always about our needs getting met. We also say “thank you” in NVC and tell people how they have truly enriched our lives by telling them the first three things. We tell them (1) what they’ve done to enrich us, (2) what our feelings are, and (3) what needs of ours have been fulfilled by their actions.

I believe that, as human beings, there are only two things that we are basically saying at any given time: “please” and “thank you.” The language of NVC is set up to make our “please” and “thank you” very clear so that people do not hear anything that gets in the way of our giving to each other from the heart.

Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. is the author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Speak Peace in a World of Conflict, Life-Enriching Education, Being Me, Loving You, and several other booklets, videos and audiotape series. He is the founder and educational director of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, and spends over 200 days each year teaching NVC throughout the world.

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:


"I believe that, as
human beings,
there are only two things
that we are basically
saying at any given time: “please” and “thank you.”

Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.