Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

Category: Relationships
Author: Marshall Rosenberg
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by dynamictangle   2021-12-10

Here is something I typed up previously. The book I am writing will talk about most of this stuff. I'll be posting some articles I'm writing about communication here soon. For now, my old post. I endorse these books:


So this is a bit of an area of expertise for me. I'm actually a writing a book about communication and it is kind of a skills book, but not as you might traditionally think of one. I can tell you more if you like, but don't want to bore you.

Here's the thing with skills books when it comes to communication...most are ok, some are even good, but most are essentially the same...they put together some combination of "do these things" and "do not do these other things" and market you a book that ultimately isn't going to help you a whole least not to communicate better in the aggregate. (How to Win Friends and Influence People is an example of this.) I call these any "Do these 10 things to communicate better" books. There is no magic list of skills that if you just learn these things, you'll communicate better. Communication doesn't work like that.

That said, there are a few decent enough communication "skills" books out there that are worth your time. It really depends on the type of communication skills you're looking for...for example, there are books out there entirely dedicated to how to give a good presentation (say, at work). There are books on conflict resolution. There are books on persuasion. All of these, which I don't think is what you're looking for only give you part of a very big puzzle. As far as more general communication books there are a couple you might consider:

(A note that most of these are not likely to be at your local library, but if you as your local friendly librarian how to they could get you one of these books, they can probably easily help you. Ask! Librarians are awesome! Also, most of these should be available on Amazon for not much money.)

  1. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
    Author: Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
    A book with an overall good perspective. A little sappy and cloying at times, but in general the intentions are in the right place with this one. Could come off as a little bit squishily academic, but an ok read and a good perspective.
  2. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?
    Author: Alan Alda
  3. (From M*A*S*H, The West Wing, and much more)
    I'm actually reading this book right now and it is a funny take on Alda's life and work and he relates his stories through (and about communication). Alda is actually pretty smart about communication and comes at it differently than most anyone else on this list. Funny and witty, what you might expect from such a great actor and comedian. Definitely worth reading.
  4. Simply Said: Communicating Better At Work and Beyond
    Author: Jay Sullivan
    More about work than other contexts but good advice overall. I only skimmed parts of this one so can't speak to every aspect, but appeared to be decent enough quality when I reviewed it.
  5. The Art of Communicating
    Author: Thich Nhat Hanh
    Different from the others on the list, this one is written by a Buddhist monk who takes a more spiritual view of communication. It is a good philosophical approach. I found parts of this book enlightening. It is not scientific-ish enough for me and it makes no claims to be. It is a philosophy book on communication, but an easy, accessible read and worth your time.
  6. Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
    Author: Kerry Patterson
    A good enough book if you're looking to navigate conflicts/difficult conversational things at work or in relationships. Deals more with the challenging aspects of communication, but for what it is, good enough advice.
  7. How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships
    Author: Liel Lowndes
    Similar to the book above, but more about making conversation with people. As far as these types of books go, this one is ok enough and actually has some good advice on things to try when attempting to communicate with others.

Books like Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, which comes up when you look for communication books should be avoided entirely. That book, and other books like it, are trash. You might as well get your advice from Cosmo.

Sorry for the length here, but like I said, this is an area of expertise. I hope you found this helpful. I can answer questions about any of these books if you like.

by LuminousDragon   2021-12-10

DEFINITELY agree. That line set off warning bells in my head. There are people who have the opinion the what the EGS is doing is super messed up. To me it isnt, so if someone said i would probably do the same, i wouldnt care, but if you say the same thing to someone who feels its a moral issue they really care about, you might lose a fan for life.

An analogous example is companies overworking employees for like 80 hours a week for months on end. Very recently a company basically said hey thats how we do business, its good work ethic. If they had also said you'd do the same, i would have raged on that. Because they have unethical business practices, screw them, I wouldnt do the same.

Now that Im writing this, it makes me think of the well known and amazing book "Non Violent Communication"

The author talks about how its good to avoid the word you in times like this because people feel attacked. And in this case kinda rightly so. This company has no idea if I would do the same or not, the most they can say is that some high percentage of the population would do the same, and morality isnt a popularity contest so its irrelevant.

by nicpottier   2019-07-12
I read the Nonviolent Communication ( book at the recommendation of a counselor a decade or so back and it really changed my life and how I interact with people.

I think as a programmer I am not atypical in that I sometimes struggle with empathy or how people reacted to things I said, but NVC gave me a framework to communicate in a healthier way. This wasn't just something that helped at work, it had an enormous effect on my personal life as well and I credit it to having strong relationships now.

I think the only frustrating piece is sometimes dealing with other who have not read (or do not subscribe) to the same philosophies. It can be very trying to respond to attacks with empathy but in the end that's still always the best strategy.

Highly recommended and not just if you are a manager, if you deal with other human beings at all, read it.

by CiPHPerCoder   2018-03-19
> Um, OK and rewriting history is a tactic favoured by fascists.

We're not rewriting history. Allowing a transgendered person to choose a new name doesn't change the basic facts about what happened. It's just an act of compassion towards someone who would otherwise be suffering from feelings neither you nor I personally experience, but are well documented by scientists.

> Shouldn't it be "Bradley Manning (now called Chelsea)"?

You could say "Chelsea Manning (at the time, 'Bradley')" if you really wanted to refresh people's memories, so long as you consistently refer to her as Chelsea through the rest of the comment/essay/etc.

> I prefer objective to polite.

This is a false dichotomy. You can be both.

by Bullroarer_Took   2017-08-19

Yes! This book about nonviolent communication ( talks about the ways people try to control one another, and a big one is intimidation. It says that if you call someone out on whatever their method is, it disarms them and they stop. This has helped me so many times in dealing with people.

Whenever I'm faced with someone who is yelling at me, all it takes is starting my reply with "it sounds like you're really angry about this" and they instantly calm down.

by JaskoGomad   2017-08-19

The people saying we can't help you with all of this are correct - some of this is about mediation, communication, and culture.

But some of it is about gaming, and we can help with that part.

First of all, from my experience it's important to choose a system and / or implied setting that won't inflame the parents. Kids won't have trouble with systems. I started w/ B/X D&D in the red box at 10 years old and it was fine - I started my own son at 7 with D&D 3.5 (not my favorite game even at the time, but the reasons for choosing it were sound...) and he did fine. What you have to worry about is probably parents. In the US, it was easy to run afoul of religious zealots who freak out about any hint of magic. It still is.

I'm not sure what the social conditions are where you are, you're the best judge of that, but I would direct you to Beyond the Wall It's inexpensive and has several free expansions but here are the reasons I recommend it:

  • It's designed to take new groups through a collaborative, guided session that generates a setting, characters, and initial situation that is unique and woven together from everyone's input. So they'll feel like they own the game and be more invested from the start.

  • It focuses on young heroes, barely more than kids, protecting their home on their first adventure. Probably something that this group can get behind.

It's mostly a OSR D&D-like game.

I recommend that game a lot.

In your situation, you might also like to look at Psi*Run. It was developed by Meguey Baker (D. Vincent Baker's wife and game design collaborator) for use in a teen RPG program at a library. It's meant to get kids right into the action immediately - they're super-powered teens (like X-Men) fleeing a force that wants to capture them.

Good luck with the rest of it. Oh - I'm not a counsellor or social worker, but you might want to read the book, Nonviolent Communication . It's got a lot of advice for how to deal with charged situations and long-standing bad feelings.

by anon22559   2017-08-19

They aren't textbooks, but they do have information to learn in them. Here are a couple of things on my reading list:

Why People Die By Suicide by Thomas Joiner

How to Be an Adult in Relationships by David Richo

Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenburg