Diane Emerson


NonViolent Communication

Imagine listening to a raging boss or spouse and not hearing criticism, blame, or feeling shame or anger as they vent their feelings at you. Just imagine being able to listen to them respectfully, and calmly, and not shut them out. And, to be able to share any feelings that do come up in a manner that will not escalate the tension, but will get your own needs met. Wow. Who wouldn't want to be able to do that??
In 2007 I attended a 2 day workshop on NonViolent Communication with Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for NonViolent Communication, http://www.cnvc.org/. Marshall grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and had plenty of violent communication in that childhood setting. But now he travels the world's war zones and prisons bringing people together who are at each other's throats. He helps them to see that underneath the anger and hurt and overwhelming feelings people have in these situations, everyone has the same needs. Once these conflicting parties can get down to the level of their basic needs which aren't getting met, they can find a way to work together to solve their issues. These concepts work in our own personal war zones, too.
I first heard of Marshall while I was volunteering with the Couchsurfing Collective (www.couchsurfing.org) in  Nelson, New Zealand. Casey Fenton and some of the other Couchsurfers had attended a training session (put on by a New Zealander trained in the technique, not by Marshall). The next day, some of us at the Collective watched a video of Marshall giving a training session. Some of the things Marshall said in his video really challenged much of what I had learned growing up, and I felt fascinated by the ideas presented. When I returned to the US, I discovered that Marshall himself was giving a training session in the Twin Cities. This was a rare opportunity, and I took advantage of it and signed up. I feel profoundly grateful that I did. After attending the training and reading his book, I now feel as though I finally have permission to own my feelings - all of them, not just the positive ones!!! And, I now have the tools I need to share those  Un-good person negative feelings with others, in the kindest possible manner. So I now have a much better chance of meeting my needs for understanding and consideration.
Like learning a new language, this is going to take time and practice, and I will not write or speak this new language fluently any time soon. But I feel committed to learning it and using it as often as I can. No more saying I'm sorry, no more labeling myself or other people as intelligent, beautiful, good, bad, homeless, grumpy, etc, etc. No more use of the verb "To be".
"All criticism is a tragic expression of the other person's unmet needs." Marshall Rosenberg
You may be surprised to see positive labels listed as well as negative ones. That is one of the most intriguing insights of this training: Labeling people positively is as harmful as labeling them negatively, because all labels set up differences between us. If you are beautiful, I or someone else is not, and we end up constantly comparing ourselves either up or down against other people, in any area you care to think of.

Marshall uses the giraffe as a metaphor for nonviolent communication, because the giraffe has the largest heart of any land animal. Hence the photo below:

Marshall puts on the giraffe hat when he needs some time to put a particularly difficult comment into perspective, before he responds to it.
I look forward to speaking "Giraffe" fluently, and never again hearing a criticism or any kind of blame. Wow! I can hardly wait! What a great incentive to learn this new language. And if we all learned to speak "Giraffe", and have compassion for the other person instead of defensiveness, the world would be at peace. I am going to start with the only person I can change: me.

NonViolent Communication - Robert Gonzales

The shift we need to make is from pushing away to listening. Robert Gonzales

Robert Gonzales, http://living-compassion.org/,  approaches Nonviolent Communication from a different perspective.  He focuses on the beauty of the needs themselves, and prefers to call them longings, or yearnings, because of the negative connotations of "needs".  I attended an intensive 5 day workshop by Robert in late March, 2011.

Imagine being able to go so deeply into the pain of unmet needs that you uncover your core beliefs about yourself and life, and how exposing them to the light of understanding causes them to lose their power over you. Imagine getting to a place where you don't mind if your need is met or not because the sweet sadness associated with the longing is so beautiful.   Imagine how it would be if you could get all your own needs met just by giving yourself the compassion and understanding and audience you so want others to give you.  Imagine throwing out the Observation, Feeling, Needs, and Request formula of NVC and speaking instead from the core of your heart, with deep connection to the other person.  These were just some of the skills that Robert taught during this workshop.

I found it so incredibly valuable that I want to share it with others. I created a summary of my notes from the workshop. You can download it by clicking here.

NonViolent Communication - Marshall Rosenberg

Here are a few notes from the book; Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life
Marshall Rosenberg

At the third stage, emotional liberation, we respond to the needs of others out of compassion, never out of fear, guilt, or shame.  Our actions are therefore  fulfilling to us, as well as to those who receive our efforts.  We accept full responsibility  for our own intentions and actions, but not for the feelings of others. At this stage, we are aware that we can never meet our own needs at the expense of others.    Emotional liberation involves stating clearly what we need in a way that communicates we are equally concerned  that the needs of others be fulfilled .  NVC is designed to support us in relating at this level.

When others hear criticism, they tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack.  The more directly we can connect our feelings to our needs, the easer it is for others to respond compassionately.

When the other person hears a demand from us, they see two options: submit or rebel. Either way, the person requesting is perceived as coercive, and the listener's capacity to respond compassionately to the request is diminished .  The more we have in the past blamed, punished, or 'laid guilt trips' on others when they haven't responded to our requests, the higher the likelihood that our requests will now be heard as demands.  To the degree that people in our lives have been blamed, punished, or urged to feel guilty for not doing what others have requested, the more likely they are to carry this baggage to every subsequent relationship and hear a demand in any request.

How to tell whether it is a demand or a request: Observe what the speaker does if the request is not complied with.  It is a demand if the speaker then criticizes or judges.  Or if the speaker then lays a guilt trip.

The more we interpret noncompliance as rejection, the more likely our requests will be heard as demands.

Here is a link to Marshall's organisation: the Center for Nonviolent Communication

Marshall has worked to end violence all over the world. He has sat at a table with warring African groups where the killers of family members have been sitting at the same table. He has had a gun held to his head, and more.  And with the use of NonViolent Communication, he has enabled people to get underneath their hurt and anger, to the level of communicating their underlying needs with one another. As he says, once he can get the parties to this level, of discussing needs instead of feelings, any conflict can be resolved in 20 minutes. Any conflict.  And I believe it.  The hard part is getting people to communicate at the need level, and not at the feeling level.

I have put together a card which summarizes the process, and can be used to communicate in a nonviolent manner by anyone. If you would like a copy, please contact me and I will mail one to you, or you can download it yourself here.

The Nonviolent Peace Force

Send in the peace force.

What we are organizing  is the world's first trained, standing civilian nonviolent peace force.

What that means is, we will have a group of well-trained civilians, who are trained in effective nonviolent strategies, and then they will go to areas of nonviolent conflict, at the invitation of one or more local groups from that area. While there, their mission will be rather narrow. It will to protect human rights, to protect human life, and to help create the space for local people to do reconciliation work - and stay alive in the process. Mel Duncan, founder, Nonviolent Peace Force.


I heard about this organisation in early 2008, and had a chance to visit its Minneapolis headquarters while in the US.  Mel was out of town at the time, but I was able to meet him personally later in the year, at the Peace Island conference which took place in St. Paul at the same time as the Republican National Convention.  I am a great fan of this concept, which was one of Gandhi's ideas he didn't have time to implement before he was assassinated.  Goes to show - good ideas never die.

Peace Pilgrim

  "THIS IS THE WAY OF PEACE: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love... My simple peace message is adequate - really just the message that the way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth.

(Photo by James B. Burton)                                         It conquers all things. One in harmony with God's law of love has more strength than an army, for one need not subdue an adversary; an adversary can be transformed."

Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Works in Her Own Words - Pg. 97

I first learned about Peace Pilgrim in 2007, after I had begun my volunteer work and nomadic life. Peace began her pilgrimage in 1953. She was  44 years old.  She vowed to walk as a penniless pilgrim until mankind had learned the ways of peace. She walked and taught people about peace until her death in 1981. 

When I think of what she did, I am always amazed.  When I was living the nomadic life, and set up my home for the night; my tent,  inflatable mattress and sleeping bag, I thought of her and how she was able to tell her body to lie down and sleep on a slab of concrete - and it did. She had such self control over her body.  When I go for a walk carrying nothing in my hands or on my back, I imagine being as free as Peace, and what it would be like to just keep walking, as she did, carrying nothing but the clothes on her back, a toothbrush, and a comb.  When I would pack my food into my bag to take with me, sometimes I think of how she fasted until someone freely offered her food.  What strength of mind she had!

I always carry with me at least one of the small booklets that tell about her life and how to find inner peace. For me, and for anyone who is interested in Peace Pilgrim and her lessons.  I am grateful to The Friends of Peace Pilgrim, who make her booklets, book, and DVD and videos available for free to people all over the world. Here is the website: www.peacepilgrim.org

"The price of peace is to abandon fear and replace it with faith, faith that if we obey God's laws we will receive God's blessings. The price of peace is to abandon hate and allow love to reign supreme in our hearts - love for all of our fellow human beings all over the world. The price of peace is to abandon arrogance and replace it with repentance and humility, remembering that the way to peace is the way to love. The price of peace is to abandon greed and replace it with giving so that none will be spiritually injured by having more than they need while others in the world have less than they need." Peace Pilgrim

Peace Inspiration

It is important to be conscious in our everyday life.  The nature of conscious awareness and wisdom is peace and joy.  As long as you act in the present with as much understanding as you possibly can, you'll realize everlasting peace in no time at all.  Lama Yeshe

The following message was given to a survivor of a plane crash, when she protested about going back into her crumpled body: You have a message to bring back, and the message is that peace equals love, love equals wisdom.  From Through Time into Healing , by Brian Weiss.  

You must learn to end the wars in your world by ending them in your mind. Barbara Marciniak, in Family of Light

The more we use the muscle of peace and love, the more easily it comes to us, and the more we become  peace.  Rev. Nancy Herrick, Our Spiritual Center, Mpls.

If we knew that there was a spirit world in which love and knowledge were the only attributes of importance and the things that wars are fought for - money, land, political power - were important only here on earth, it would certainly change our attitudes and beliefs about the people we consider our enemies.  In The Light Beyond, by Raymond Moody

'Neither shall they learn war anymore" - from the book of Isaiah.  Pastor Laurie Riley, Anamosa United Methodist Church, August, 2007

There is no noise in the world. There is no peace in the Himalayas. Both are within you.  Paramahansa Yogananda

Satyagraha vows: the vows of Gandhi's non-violence movement: nonviolence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy, non-possession, body-labor, control of the palate, fearlessness, equal respect for all religions, swadeshi-home manufacture, freedom from untouchability.  These shall be observed as vows in a spirit of humility.

The mahatma has reverently studied all world religions. The jain scriptures, the biblical new testament, and the sociological writings of Tolstoy are the three main sources of Gandhi's nonviolent convictions. Paramahansa  Yogananda

It takes a fairly strenuous course of training to attain a mental state of nonviolence. It is a disciplined life, like the life of a soldier. The perfect state is reached only when the mind, body, and speech are in proper coordination.  Every problem would lend itself to solution if we determined to make the law of truth and nonviolence the law of life. Mahatma Gandhi

If loss of life becomes necessary in a righteous battle, one should be prepared, like Jesus, to shed his own, not others, blood. Eventually there will be less blood spilt in the world. Gandhi

War and crime never pay. The billions of dollars that went up in the smoke of explosive nothingness would have been sufficient to have made a new world, one almost free from disease and completely free from poverty. Not an earth of fear, chaos, famine, pestilence, the danse macabre, but one broad land of peace, of prosperity, and of widening knowledge.  Paramahansa Yogananda

The soul finds rest in none but God, whose seat is in the soul, and who rules all things. Julian of Norwich, 1342-?, in Revelations of Divine Love

We have got to realize the littleness of creation and to see it for the nothing that is before we can love and possess God who is uncreated. This is the reason why we have no ease of heart or soul, for we are seeking our rest in trivial things which cannot satisfy, and not seeking to know God almighty: all-wise, all-good. He is true rest. Julian of Norwich, 1342-?, in Revelations of Divine Love

This is the true nature of home - it is the place of peace; the shelter, not only from injury but from all terror, doubt, and division.

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. Ernest Hemingway

In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established. As chief among the mountains, it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. ...He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:2 and 2:4

Gandhi was working on the peace army when he was assassinated

Let us remember that the most expensive peacekeeping operation costs far less than the cheapest war. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General

Everybody talks about peace as a goal. Many people cry "Peace! Peace!" but they refuse to do the things that make for peace. Martin Luther King Jr.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. Jimi Hendrix

Sacred peace flows, sap-like, within the spine, the tree of Life. As you relax there, breathe deeply fthe pure, fresh, revivifying atmosphere; drink the intoxicating wine of spiritual bliss. Paramhansa Yogananda's interpretation of Stanza 11, the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending
spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of
diminishing evil, it multiplies it… Through violence you murder
the hater, but you do not murder hate… Returning violence for
violence multiplies violence… Hate cannot drive out hate; only
love can do that."
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

"There is a formula that goes like this: "Peace of Mind" comes when persons or a society are "centered." Centered-ness comes from certainty. Certainty comes from only one place: the recognition of patterns. So when a person or society has recognized a pattern as great as all of Creation, there is great certainty and centeredness and there is great Peace of Mind." - Ian Xel Lungold


"The price of peace is to abandon fear and replace it with faith, faith that if we obey God's laws we will receive God's blessings. The price of peace is to abandon hate and allow love to reign supreme in our hearts - love for all of our fellow human beings all over the world. The price of peace is to abandon arrogance and replace it with repentance and humility, remembering that the way to peace is the way to love. The price of peace is to abandon greed and replace it with giving so that none will be spiritually injured by having more than they need while others in the world have less than they need." Peace Pilgrim

Don’t be aggressive nor overly submissive. Both stances will cause aggression against you.  Starhawk


Even though anxiety often arises out of habit, it can still be grounding to connect with the needs underneath.  Often the needs underlying anxiety are the core needs like safety, belonging, support, autonomy, and acceptance.  If you check in with each of these needs and notice how they are already being met or take action to meet them, you will likely experience relief from anxiety. LaShelle Lowe-Chardé


[T]he example set by the renouncers of India who advocate mimimal consumption continues to offer a solution for myriad problems. By attacking the source of human misery through uprooting attachment itself, a true type of peace that automatically extends to others can be fostered. Christopher Kay Chapple, in Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions


Newest Members

Recent Photos