In Case You Didn’t Know…

Neil StraussNeil

It’s been gut-wrenching reading the news lately. We have ISIS, Boko Haram, drug cartels, and others kidnapping, brainwashing, and beheading people; we have a new “public outrage” story in the media every single day; we are trying to negotiate important new boundaries of sensitivity in often very insensitive ways; hatred and threats blossom in the Comments sections like mold; and then there’s privacy, which seems as retro now as compact discs.

In the midst of all this, one of the most important revolutionaries for peace, freedom, and common sense has passed away—someone whose teachings we need more than ever—and not a single mainstream media outlet wrote an obituary or tribute. Perhaps an award-winning author & peace advocate dying is just not as good clickbait as Kim Kardashian dyeing her hair.

So I wanted to let you know if you didn’t already that Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of Nonviolent Communication, also known as Compassionate Communication, died last month.

His teachings have changed my life, and have the potential to change the world. Often when I hear people describing conflicts in their relationships, in their work, with strangers, and even in the world, I think of how Rosenberg created a great solution that could revolutionize the world in such a positive way.

For those who have been in the Inner Circle for a while, I’ve given a few lessons on this type of communication before. (You can find them on the Inner Circle website.)

So I will share just a few of his principles in tribute and as grist for the mill of your thinking today:


1. Each of is responsible for our own feelings. In other words, no one can make you feel a certain way and you don’t make anyone feel some negative emotion. As Rosenberg put it: We are never angry because of what others say or do. It is our thinking that makes us angry.

2. All negative feelings come from unmet needs. For example, someone may feel hurt because their need for respect or honesty wasn’t met.

3. No two people’s needs are in conflict. Strategies–the approaches to getting those needs met–may be in opposition, but not the basic core needs themselves. So it’s never necessary to compromise; instead, everyone can be completely satisfied if you focus on the needs, not the strategies.

4. Words and even thoughts that blame, judge, criticize, insult, diagnose, compare, punish, and coerce make our lives and relationships miserable. They should be avoided at all cost—not just when directed at others, but also at ourselves.

5. And finally, here’s a precept of his that may change your dating, social, and business life: Instead of worrying about what people are thinking about you, pay attention instead to what they need.

I hope to do whatever I can to spread Marshall Rosenberg’s ideas further in the world. And I hope you will too.

If you want a great overview of his ideas, I recommend listening to a lecture of his called Nonviolent Communication. You can find it on iTunes: the cover is of a hand flashing the peace sign. Note that the first 20 or so minutes are a little slow but then it gets great.

It will not just change but save your relationships, both personal and business. And it has the potential to do the same to the world.


Marshall Rosenberg, 1934-2015, RIP