4 Simple Steps to Effective Communication

Who hasn’t heard or even found themselves reiterating the classic expression “Communication is Key”?

Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Non-Violent Communication (NVC), was an American Psychologist and a travelling peacemaker.  He developed NVC to help people hear and express deeper needs and to communicate with one another in a way that harbours authentic connection, based on the principles of empathetic listening and honest expression.

Sounds good hey? Authentic connection and clear communication are things we inherently all want as humans, yet it is still tremendously difficult!

This is a very quick snapshot of the basic principles of Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication.

  1. Identify the behaviour                              

When identifying the specific behaviour that is affecting you, be as specific as possible.  Using words like “always” or “never” will not do.

Example: Person roles eyes at you.

The statement for this example would be something like                                  “I noticed that you just rolled your eyes at me.”

2.  Express the feeling

When expressing the feeling try to identify the feeling in a way that does not involve the other person. For example, rather than feeling “ignored” you might feel “lonely” because feeling “ignored” implies that the person was ignoring you, which may not have been the case.

Always try to own the emotion that you feel. Nobody has the power to make you feel a certain way, so avoid saying something like “When you rolled your eyes at me it made me feel insecure.”

Rather, you might choose to say                                                                                        “When you rolled your eyes at me I felt insecure.

Click here for a List of Feelings

3. Identify the need that is not being met          

This is the “because” part of the sentence. Why did that uncomfortable feeling of insecurity come in when this person rolled his or her eyes at you? Because a need that you have was not being met in that moment. Perhaps in this case that need might have been acceptance or respect.                                                                                                        “When you rolled your eyes at me I felt insecure because I need to feel respected by my colleagues.”

Click for a List of Needs

4. Specifically request what you desire  

Lastly, requesting (not demanding) what you would like to see happen. This may or may not happen, but this way you have been clear about what you hope to see.

“When you rolled your eyes at me I felt insecure because I have a need to feel respected in the workplace.

“If you would be willing, I would like for you to share with me the reason  you rolled your eyes at me.”


That’s it! Start practicing. You will see and feel results, I promise.


Learn more about Non-Violent Communication from the official NVC website.

Purchase your own NVC book from Amazon.ca and learn even more about NVC!

Marshall Rosenberg's original cover.
Marshall Rosenberg’s second ed.

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