What Is NVC?

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is the name given by the late Marshall Rosenberg to his theory, practice, and advocacy of empathy. It’s set out most comprehensively in his book, originally published in 1990, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.

There are now hundreds of study groups, thousands of empathy buddies, and all kinds of classes and workshops where NVC is put into practice. There’s also a constant stream of quality literature in which NVC is clarified, updated, debated, elaborated, explained, and questioned.

Superficially NVC is a set of suggestions about language; more profoundly, the aim of these guidelines is to suggest experiments in listening and responding.

NVC is an intention to realize one’s connection to others. NVC is “the how” of empathy. NVC is a way to own your shit. NVC is about recognizing and responding to experience that is not one’s own. NVC is a conflict resolution model. NVC is a way to see and be seen.

NVC is also something that’s up for debate—that’s unformed and unfinished.

Most of all, as I understand it, NVC is something that has to be practiced to be anything at all.