Speak Peace in a World of Conflict - What You Say Next Will Change Your World

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I love it. The way Marshal has developed his philosophy and he can turn any bad situation into one where both sides feel fulfilled with their needs fulfilled.
It's magic.


I see a different world than most people do on television.
I’ve worked in both Rwanda and Nigeria with people who have had everybody in their family killed, so I know what can happen in this world.
But all over the world I work with people who tell me it doesn’t have to be that way. I work with people who have a different world view, a different consciousness, and these people are spreading their consciousness very rapidly.
Their courage, their vision, and their ability to keep their energy up-under even the most difficult circumstances-inspire me beyond words.


OUR SPEECH REFLECTS our thoughts and perceptions, defining the world in which we live.
How we speak can open or close doors, heal or hurt, create joy or suffering, and ultimately determines our own degree of happiness.

“… actions are taken for the sole purpose of willingly contributing to the well-being of others and ourselves.”


“We need a more peaceful world, growing out of more peaceful families and neighborhoods and communities. To secure and cultivate such peace, we must love others, even our enemies as well as our friends.”


I’ll show you how it’s being used within ourselves, as well as how it’s used to create quality connections with others at home, at work, and in efforts toward social change.
What’s alive in us? and What can we do to make life more wonderful?

the process of bringing about peaceful change begins with working on our own mindsets, on the way we view ourselves and others, on the way we get our needs met.
it requires great honesty and openness, developing a certain literacy of expression, and overcoming deeply ingrained learning that emphasizes judgment, fear, obligation, duty, punishment and reward, and shame.

Part I:
everything we do is in service of our needs.
we’ll see that we have no real enemies, that what others do to us is the best possible thing they know to do to get their needs met.
We can help them see more effective, less damaging ways to do it, but we don’t blame them, shame them, or hate them for not being what we want them to be.

Part II:
changes that take place in ourselves, in our view of others, and in how we view the world when our motivation is to enrich life.

Part III:
speaking peace, social change. I encourage you to team up with others who have similar values.


“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”


What is it that gets into people that makes them want to harm people for such reasons as their name, their religion, their background, or their skin color?
How come there are people like my uncle who seem to enjoy contributing to the well- being of other people and at the same time other human beings who want to do violence to one another?

studying the people I really admired to see what made them different.
I looked at what helped them stay with what I really think is our nature: contributing to one another’s well-being.
religions seemed to agree somewhat about how we are meant to live.
Carl Rogers studying charac- teristics of healing relationships—was also very helpful to me.

From all of these sources I put together a process based on my desire for how I would like human beings to behave.


“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”


The spirituality embodied in NVC exists not so much to help people connect with the divine as to come from the divine energy we’re created out of.

Milton Rokeach, a research psychologist at Michigan State University, studied eight of the basic religions on the planet to see if, in any one of them, the people who seriously practiced the religion were more compassionate than others. He found that the eight he studied were about equal in compassion.
But then he compared them to people who had no religious affiliation—and the people with no religious affiliation were far more compassionate!

“Marshall, I really liked your training, but you know, this is nothing new, and I don’t mean this as a criticism: It’s really just applied Islam.”
“Yesterday I was in Jerusalem, and an orthodox rabbi told me it was applied Judaism. And the head of our program in Sri Lanka is a Jesuit priest, and he thinks it’s Christianity.”

NVC is a combination of thinking and language, as well as a means of using power designed to serve a specific intention. This intention is to create the quality of connection with other people and oneself that allows compassionate giving to take place.
In this sense it is a spiritual practice: All actions are taken for the sole purpose of willingly contributing to the well-being of others and ourselves.

The primary purpose of Nonviolent Communication is to connect with other people in a way that enables giving to take place: compassionate giving.
It’s compassionate in that our giving comes willingly from the heart. We are giving service to others and ourselves—not out of duty or obligation, not out of fear of punishment or hope for a reward, not out of guilt or shame, but for what I consider part of our nature. It’s in our nature to enjoy giving to one another.
Nonviolent Communication helps us connect with one another by allowing our nature to come forward in how we give (and are given to) by others.

In every place I work I ask people to think of something they’ve done within the last twenty-four hours that in some way has contributed to
making life more wonderful for somebody. After they think a minute I ask, “Now, how do you feel when you are aware of how that act contributed to making life more wonderful for somebody?” And they all have a smile on their face. It’s universal; most people enjoy giving to others.

When we are aware of the power we have to enrich life, how we can serve life, it feels good.
“Can anybody think of anything that’s more fulfilling in life than to use our efforts this way?” I’ve asked this question all over our planet, and everyone seems to agree. There’s nothing that is better, nothing that feels better, nothing that’s more enjoyable than using our efforts in the service of life by contributing to one another’s well-being.

how come the violence? Well, I believe that the violence comes because of how we were educated, not because of our nature.
I agree with the theologian Walter Wink, who believes that since the dawn of civilization—at least eight thousand years—we have been educated in a way that makes violence enjoyable.

We have learned to think in terms of moralistic judgments of one another. We have words in our consciousness like right, wrong, good, bad, selfish, unselfish, terrorists, freedom fighters.
If you do bad things, you deserve to be punished. If you do good things, you deserve to be rewarded.
Unfortunately, we have been subjected to this consciousness, this faulty educa- tion, for a long, long time. I think that’s the core of violence on our planet.

NVC helps us to connect with one another so we come back to what is really the fun way to live, which is contributing to one another’s well-being.

For example, let’s begin by having you think of a situation that’s current in your life in which somebody is behaving in a way that isn’t making life wonderful for you.
pick a real situation, and I’ll show you how Nonviolent Communication can support you in creating a connection in that situation that will end with everybody’s needs getting met, with the people involved acting solely for the purpose of enriching life for one another, which certainly includes meeting our own needs.

The child says horrible things like “No” when they want the child to do something.
Some people tell me they live with partners who say horrible things like, “That hurts me when you do that.”
In places like Rwanda, people might want to know, “How do I deal with my next-door neighbor when I know they killed a member of my family?”

thinking of an interaction with another person that hasn’t gone in a way you enjoy and where you would like to learn how to speak peace.
Whatever circumstance you can recall at the moment, big or not so big, write it down or make a mental note of it: one specific thing that this person does that makes life less than wonderful for you.
It could be something they do, something they don’t do, or something they say or don’t say.
Now that you have noted something that this person does that you don’t like, keep this in mind as you read the overview of how to apply Nonviolent Communication when you communicate with this person.


“The most powerful agent of growth and transformation is something much more basic than any technique: a change of heart.”