Practice Nonviolent Communication

What is it?

Marshall Rosenberg created Nonviolent Communication to help improve the quality of our relationships by transforming existing patterns of defensiveness and aggressiveness into compassion and empathy.

The Nonviolent Communication model has four components and two parts.

The four components are:

  • Observation
  • Feeling
  • Needs
  • Request

The two parts are:

  • Empathy
  • Honesty

The outline of the model goes like this:

When I see that______________

I feel ______________

because my need for ________________ is/is not met.

Would you be willing to __________________?

Why use it?

The model supports your introspection and reflection of what is going on in the world around you. By practising Nonviolent Communication, you are more able to nurture the relationships with people around you.


Remember a time and place where the conversation became really heated. For Alexis It was one reaction in a meeting, something he said, he did not necessarily know why, but he could see on the faces of other people that it was not helping. We will use this as an example for the different steps.


  • Take a step back and observe what happened,
  • When I see (hear…)
  • Alexis: When I hear you speaking about the complexity of the work of a team that has no representative in the room, a team I was a member of before…


  • Now express how you feel, it can be an emotion or a sensation rather than a thought that is in relation to what you observe.
  • … I feel…
  • Alexis: … I felt a rush of anger…


  • Now express what you need or value that cause your feelings.
  • … Because I need…
  • Alexis: … Because I need people to be respected, I need their work to be respected, I need fairness and equity…


  • Now you can formulate a request that would improve the relationship, without demanding, a concrete action that you would like to be taken.
  • … Would you be willing to… ?
  • Alexis: … Would you be willing to invite representatives of that team so they can bring their own perspective on those issues so that we can all learn and improve?

You can expect that you won’t get it right the first time, and that you’ll need more than one iteration to make it good. Good being, an observation that is really an observation, a feeling that is really a feeling, and so on…

Working on this with a trusted peer could really help.

Further Information


  • Alexis Monville

    Alexis Monville worked in multicultural and distributed environments for years, coming back from the US and now based in the southwest of France. When asked if he misses the work in the office, he usually answers that he spent half of his 30 years of management experience in diverse sectors outside of the office and a lot of that working from home. Alexis is Chief of Staff to the CTO at Red Hat, a long-time hybrid open-source software company with more than 100 office locations in 40 countries, where half of the 20,000 people work remotely. Alexis is a firm believer that change starts with the self. He is the author of two books: Changing Your Team From The Inside and I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge. Alexis facilitates successful playful collaborations. He designs and builds sustainable and high-impact teams and organizations.