BOOK REVIEW BY MITRA MARTIN
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph. D.
If you have ever found yourself saying, even just inside yourself, let’s say, while scrolling through the Facebook, “These people are SO annoying.” “I can’t stand her.” or just sighing, "Man." Or if you ever find yourself plotting microrevenge, “I won’t invite them again” or whatever...you need this book.
Here are some situations - on and off the dance floor - where what I learned from reading this book helps me find more peace:
- When I am sad or scared - learning how to give myself empathy
- When I am with someone who is upset - learning how to give empathy in a constructive way
- When I am stressed out and working with someone who is stressed out - learning new patterns to replace reactive or resisting ones
- When I am feeling happy about something - learning how to appreciate without being manipulative
Those things happen almost every day, especially when we are living and working as part of an active, dynamic, growing, changing community! So I find plenty of times to practice and plenty of times to be grateful for what I'm learning here.
Reading this book helped me realized how tricky language is, and how easy it is to unwittingly commit microviolences that make life more of a bummer than it needs to be. It doesn’t have to. All we need to do is to learn.
The book's incredibly user-friendly, too. It has excellent summaries and pithy callouts, it has useful reference lists and even very challenging self-quizzes! The writing is clear and humble and enriched by Rosenberg’s personal experiences generously shared. There are transcripts of actual conversation between people, with commentary, that are revelatory and really easy to relate to.
I am so grateful for the tremendous introspective work of Marshall Rosenberg, expressed in this book; for his calm and lucid writings and the recordings of his workshops and lectures; for the gentle force of his vision now expressed in organizations founded through and through on the pillars of peace and freedom, on the basic idea finding ways to get everyone’s needs met. He died last month. I think humanity has no idea yet how much he contributed to its possibility for success.
NVC is not just about words. It’s about kindling the underlying feeling, the mood of peace, stillness, and a true devotion to finding creative ways to serve everyone. And that’s actually more important than whatever words you say. Sometimes, it’s about learning that voicing your inner experiences of others is more functional than keeping it all inside.
Fundamentally, I believe it is about enlarging your heart - a truly deep project - so that you can function creatively even when you’re really stressed on the inside. I hope this book will inspire you. Love, Mitra