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The Nonviolent Communication Workgroup

(based on the book "Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD)

Next session begins Wednesday January 12 @ 7pm.
It will be a 7 week session with one meeting per week that last 1.5 hours.
The group size will be limited to 16 people. 23 in the last session was unwieldy. Creating Facebook group now to organize this thing.

How much does it cost?

The workgroup is free. You merely need to buy the book, Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. You can get it new here at Amazon for $13 or at Book People for $16-ish. Each person MUST read the entire book before the first class meeting. If you can't afford the book, you can read the first few chapters online here for free. But then I require you get the book and read it all.

NOTE: First meeting is the most important. We go over basics, "ground rules", and we get to know each other. The first meeting is mandatory.

What are we going to learn?
  • You will learn to better identify, understand, and speak your own emotions and needs. This is the powerful foundation that you will need in order to do the rest.
  • You will learn to let go of [moral] judgment of yourself and others and distinguish between moral and value judgment. This leads to greater acceptance of self, which leads to greater acceptance of others. Life becomes more peaceful.
  • You will practice saying the hard truths in ways that get through and create/nurture connections, getting into a habit of "compassionate honesty".
  • We will practice rephrasing negatives into positives. Learning to ask for what you want rather than what you don't want.
  • You will learn to rephrase dodging of responsibility [power] into claiming of responsibility [power]. For example, shifting your language to more often use phrases like "I choose to" or "I want to" instead of "I have to" or "I should".
  • Expressing disagreement in a way that fosters respect.
  • Finally, we will practice identifying the emotions and needs of people around us. How is this useful? When someone presents me with a challenge, I would prefer to ask, "What is their unfulfilled need?" rather than, "Geez what is wrong with this person?"

Doing these workgroups over and over, I'm seeing how thought influences words influences thought; a powerful virtuous circle that will increase your sense of courage, inner strength, and peace. For example, if you even just practice leaving out words/phrases that serve moral judgment, eventually, it seeps into your way of thinking and you become less judgmental! At least in test mice.

Seriously: putting NVC into practice in your life, you will begin to find yourself listening to people on an entirely different level. It will become automatic to more often really hear what people are saying [actually the needs underneath their words] to the point where there is no little voice in your head giving a constant commentary or thinking about what you are going to say. You will find yourself more often feeling like you can read minds, often knowing what people are going to say before they say it. Your connections with people will go deeper, with more trust, understanding, and respect.

Here is the Wikipedia definition.

Do I bring food? Alcohol? Cigarettes?

People are welcome to show up as early as 6:30 if they want to bring food over for themselves or arrange ahead of time with me to cook something together or order food. My cell is 512-497-4841. Alternatively, people are welcome to bring any kind of snack they wish to and are not expected to share. Food gifts to Scott are appreciated but not expected :)

I discourage alcohol for these meetings because I want your brain working its best. No smoking in my house. If you need to smoke, you can go outside. Bring something to put your ash and cigarette butts in to take them with you. If you smoke on my balcony, please be conscious of the two following things: (1) other people may want to use the balcony so please try to blow your smoke away from them; and (2) do not throw your butts off the balcony, put them in the container you brought with you or use the ones I put out there.

Is there homework?

The only homework is to re-read a chapter of the book before the meeting each week. It is also useful to practice what you learn. Unless you live in a cave on Mars, you will find many opportunities in your daily life to do this. 

What is the class structure?

The first two workgroups I facilitated, the structure was to have one meeting per chapter [for 13 meetings total], and each meeting was about that chapter.

The 2010 January 25 thru April 12 Session we had eleven meetings with no regard to chapters. It worked better than ever. For this coming workgroup, we will have the following structure:

We will have seven meetings of 1.5 hours each. You are required to have read the entire book before meeting #1. You show up. We usually begin with watching a short NVC-related video. Next I might ask if anyone has had a situation (conflict, interaction, etc.) they want to share with the group and/or get group input on. Usually something like:

"Hey everyone I had this experience with my girlfriend where she was saying this and I was saying that and.... "


"We have these meetings at work where my boss goes on and on about this and does that and I'm so bored/angry/frustrated..."

So... anyone who wants can share a story of conflict in their lives that we can, as a group, work on.

The other thing we spend most of our time doing is role playing. We often alternate between the entire group watching as two people role play and other times we get into small groups and role play.

Scotter is your facilitator.

Interruptions. Generally, in our culture it is agreed that interruptions are "rude"; that we always need to allow a person to finish what they are saying. Within this group we will be exploring letting go of that rule with a balance of letting a person say what needs to be said. Number one, because we have limited time and because people will often side track into stories that have no NVC-related value, it will sometimes be necessary to gently interrupt. The other aspect of interruption I want you all to consider is mentioned in the book beginning on page 121, "Empathy to Revive a Lifeless Conversation". This does not mean it is OK to always interrupt; this means sometimes it is useful.

Ejection. I reserve the right to kick anyone out of the group at any time for any reason. But please understand this: one of the points of this group is to learn to better resolve conflicts, annoyances, etc. So my first tact optimally will be to see any conflict or problem as an opportunity for me and/or the entire group to practice our mad communication skillz :-)

Feedback. Finally, I want to be sure you all know I want feedback! I may not always agree or enjoy hearing what you have to say but most important to me is that you SAY IT! I don't ask for money. I do ask for input. If you come to the meetings and you do not contribute then your chances of being asked back are diminished.

Address & Times. 7:00pm to 8:30pm every Wednesday. We skip holidays. The "session" lasts 7 weeks. If people want to stay an extra hour to continue discussion or just hang out, that is fine, and even encouraged. During our exploration of language, it is my experience that we will often stumble across interesting ideas that can be stimulating to discuss. Quite often I'll probably even invite people to stay later to play games or do my dishes. If you show up late, it's OK as long as you do not expect to be caught up. If you miss meetings, it is OK as long as you keep up in the reading, practice, and come to most of the meetings. We all have lives, trips, etc. No one is expected to make every meeting. But if you come to the first meeting (mandatory) and then skip 3 meetings, you are holding the group back and not really doing much for yourself. Commit. Block out 1.5 hours for 7 Mondays and stick to it. Do it for you.


Mopac - south
Pass downtown exits (1st/5th street).
Next Exit: 2244/Bee Caves/Rollingwood
Go under the freeway like a u-turn so you can get on the Northbound access rd.
Follow Northbound access rd as it curves to become Barton Springs Road
Light (Robert E. Lee) - Turn Right
Pass Barton Springs Pool back entrance on your right
Stay left on Robert E. Lee
Rabb Road - Turn Right
Just after you pass Fortune Drive on your right
2115 Rabb Road on the left
[see "Rabb Compound" at bottom]

I-35 South
Exit: Riverside
Riverside - Turn Right
Barton Springs - Turn Left
Light (Robert E. Lee) - Turn Left
Pass Barton Springs Pool back entrance on your right
Stay left on Robert E. Lee
Rabb Road - Turn Right
Just after you pass Fortune Drive on your right
2115 Rabb Road on the left
[see "Rabb Compound" at bottom]

FROM LAMAR/290/Ben White/Manchaca
Go north on Lamar
Pass Kerbey Lane Cafe
La Casa - Turn Left
Pass Rabb Glen Street
Rae Dell Avenue/Rabb Road - Turn Right
[see "Rabb Compound" at bottom]

Look for circular drive (two steep entrances) up on a hill.
Take first entrance (south one).
Five buildings, picnic tables, pool.
My building is the one farthest south, yellow.
2115 Rabb Road, Unit A (the unit on the left)
Austin, TX 78704

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