Quotes

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Here is a list of NVC quotes and aphorisms, which can be very useful in education and outreach. Hopefully you will find each quote to illustrate a core NVC concept.

Since this is a wiki page, anyone can edit it. So, please feel free to add to this list!


NVC Quotes and Aphorisms

Only when your consciousness is totally focused on the moment you are in can you receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer. -- Barbara De Angelis


Suddenly, out of the blue, she asks me what time it is. She can see I am not wearing a watch and I am not sitting near the clock. We have no plans for the day. I get irritated. "I don’t have any idea what time it is, why don’t you get up and find out for yourself", I say, my voice dripping ice. ... In minutes we are having a low-level spat. ... Forgetting to decode that she was asking me to reaffirm our connection, I got irritated. ... If I knew that every question, every time we reach out towards the other, for whatever superficial reason, really means "Do you love me?" and/or "Will you continue to love me?" and/or "Do you know I love you?", then I might have answered her [differently, and] probably neither of us would have worried about the time. -- Chip August, Source


Every man's life lies within the present; for the past is spent and done with, and the future is uncertain. -- Marcus Aurelius


That's all nonviolence is - organized love. -- Joan Baez


You can observe a lot just by watching -- Yogi Berra


I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. -- Elizabeth Barrett Browning


In NVC, we don't hear ultimatums/demands/criticisms: all communication is either an SOS or a care package. -- Kelly Bryson


The ability to control how love and sexuality are dispensed allows the dynamic of domination to emerge in a couple or in a culture. Love and sexuality can be spiritual forces for the nurturing of harmony within individuals and groups as long as the sacredness and primacy of free will and autonomy is maintained. -- Kelly Bryson


Better than a thousand useless words is one single word, hearing which one attains peace. -- Buddha, Dhammapada


Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart give yourself to it. -- Buddha


Don't do anything that isn't play -- Joseph Campbell, quoted by Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communications, DVD-2


When someone shouts "F-ck you!", what they really mean is, "I am so in pain that I can't express my real needs and feelings." -- Caverly, source


When I am angry, three things are true: 1) There's something I'm wanting I'm not getting. 2) I'm telling myself that someone ought to be giving it to me. 3) I'm about to speak or behave in a way that will virtually assure that I won't get what I want, or, at least assure that even if I get it, it will not be given the way I really want. -- Alex Censor, CNVC trainer, after Marshall Rosenberg, circa 1989


To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation -- Chinese Proverb


Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging. -- Deepak Chopra


Jaw jaw is better than war war. -- Winston Churchill


If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going. -- Irwin Corey


Empathy is full presence to what's alive in the other person at this moment. -- John Cunningham, CNVC Trainer


Communication is either connection or confusion. Connection meets needs, confusion doesn't. Most communication is confusion. We need to change that. NVC provides clarity and facilitates connection, which is what it's all about. -- Dee Davidson


If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. -- Moshe Dayan


If you can dream it, you can do it. -- Walt Disney


We never do things that are wrong, we do things that aren't in harmony with our needs. -- Doug Dolstad, CNVC Trainer


Everything has changed, except our way of thinking. -- Albert Einstein


Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts. -- Albert Einstein


The significant problems of our time cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -- Albert Einstein


I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heals our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other. -- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross


People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within. -- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross


What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us -- Ralph Waldo Emerson


It isn't where you come from, it's where you're going that counts. -- Ella Fitzgerald


It seems to me that whereas power usually means power-over, the power of some person or group over some other person or group, it is possible to develop the conception of power-with, a jointly developed power, a co-active, not a coercive power. -- Mary Parker Follett


The experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, indeed, the source of all anxiety. -- Erich Fromm, German psychoanalyst & writer, The Art of Loving (Perennial Classics), Page: 8


Namaste. I honour the place in your where the entire universe resides... a place of light, of love, of truth, of peace, of wisdom. I honour the place in you where when you are in that place and I am in that place there is only one of us. -– Mohandas K. Gandhi


I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary, the evil it does is permanent. -- Mahatma Gandhi


Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me." Look what happens; with a love like that, it lights up the whole sky. -- Hafiz


We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness. -- Thich Nhat Hanh


Tell me whom you love, and I will tell you who you are. -- Houssaye


By temporarily putting our solutions aside, we learn how to offer what is really needed first. Then our solutions can be received. -- Holley Humphrey, CNVC Trainer


Many people seem to get hung up on the sexuality aspect of polyamory, but the root is "many loving". So the connection to NVC, and NVC's connection to tantra, seems quite natural to me. It's all about how to make this love connection better. Polyamory is not a single thing; there are 10,000 variations. One could say we are all poly, including serial monogamists. Polyamory is to love and sexuality what Unitarian-Universalism is to religion: There is no central dogma, and everyone is included. No one is going to tell you what to do, how to think, or what is right or wrong. This is a celebration of freedom and autonomy. Go exploring in all dimensions, Rainbow People. Just be sure to have fun! Tell us of the treasures you discover, and the lovely connections you make along your journey. -- Bill Huston, (w/gratitude to JR)


Do not judge, and you will not be judged. For as you judge others you will also be judged. -- Jesus


Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. -- Carl Jung


Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence, but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it. -- Jiddu Krishnamurti


Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn't merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depths of violence. -- Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, ch. 6


When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind. -- Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, ch. 6


The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating -- Jiddu Krishnamurti (quoted in Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication, 2003a, p. 10)


[I]t is important to understand, not intellectually but actually in your daily life, how you have built images about your wife, your husband, your neighbor, your child, your country, your leaders, your politicians, your gods; you have nothing but images. The images create the space between you and what you observe and in that space there is conflict, so what we are going to find out now together is whether it is possible to be free of the space we create, not only outside ourselves but in ourselves, the space which divides people in all their relationships... -- Jiddu Krishnamurti


This is who I am. Not everybody has to like it. -- Lisa Kudrow


Compassion is the radicalism of our age. -- Dalai Lama


What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful. -- Dalai Lama


Making a request without revealing the feeling/need takes all the joy out of other's service. -- Lucy Leu, CNVC Trainer


When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. -- Audre Lourde


The world will change for the better when people decide that they are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the way the world is, and decide to change themselves. -- Sidney Madwed


To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well -- John Marshall


We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. -- Herman Melville


Life is what we make it. Always has been, always will be. -- Grandma Moses


The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. -— Ralph Nichols


Difficult as it is really to listen to someone in affliction, it is just as difficult for him to know that compassion is listening to him. -- Simone Weil quotes


Yes, the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you either run from it, or you learn from it. -- Rafiki, in The Lion King


Connecting the individual consciousness together within yourself, is the gift of the giver. It is with a touch of love that your hands will recieve all that is hidden behind love. The touch is mine. -- Rasa, Testament of Will, Green 16


The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well~intentioned words. -- Rachel Naomi Remen


We learned to speak but not communicate and that has led to so much unnecessary personal and social misery. In NVC you will find an amazingly effective language for saying what's on your mind and in your heart. Like so many essential and elegant systems, it's simple on the surface, challenging to use in the heat of the moment and powerful in its results. -- Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life


No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -- Eleanor Roosevelt


My needs are happy to meet your needs! -- Jyoti Rose (Jodi Gross)


While I recognize you are not the only person who can meet these needs, you are my favorite strategy. -- Jyoti Rose (Jodi Gross)


A difficult message is a chance to enrich someone's life. -- Marshall Rosenberg


A need is life seeking expression within us. -- Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.


All human actions are an attempt to meet needs. -- Marshall Rosenberg


All people ever say is: THANK YOU (a celebration of life) and PLEASE (an opportunity to make life more wonderful). -- Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.


All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished. -- Marshall Rosenberg


Any evaluation which implies rightness or wrongness is a tragic, suicidal expression of an unmet need. Tragic, first because it decreases our likelihood of getting our need met! Even if we think it. And secondly, because it increases the likelihood of violence. That's why I'm suggesting any evaluation which implies rightness or wrongness is a tragic, suicidal expression of an unmet need. Say the need! Learn a need-consciousness. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1


Empathy before education. -- Marshall Rosenberg


Focusing on the unmet need (not the judgment) is more likely to get the need met. -- Marshall Rosenberg


For many parents, the way I'm talking about communicating is so different that they say, "Well, it just doesn't seem natural to communicate that way." At just the right time, I read something that Gandhi had written in which he said, "Don't mix up that which is habitual with that which is natural." Gandhi said that very often we've been trained to communicate and act in ways that are quite unnatural, but they are habitual in the sense that we have been trained for various reasons to do it that way in our culture. And that certainly rang true to me in the way that I was trained to communicate with children. The way I was trained to communicate by judging rightness and wrongness, goodness and badness, and the use of punishment was widely used and very easily became habitual for me as a parent. But I wouldn't say that because something is habitual that it is natural. -- Marshall Rosenberg, Source


I never have to worry about another person's response, only how I react to what they say. -- Marshall Rosenberg


I'm going to show you a technology today which takes insults and criticisms out of the airwaves. (Marshall puts on giraffe ears) With this technology, it will be impossible for you to hear criticisms, harsh remarks, or insults. All you can hear is what all people are ever saying, "please" and "thank you". What used to sound like criticism, judgment, or blame, you will see, are really tragic, suicidal expressions of "please". -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1.


If we don't tell people about our needs, it is much less likely they will be met. -- Marshall Rosenberg


If you are a jackal, you will try to reassure. Jackals try to fix people in pain. They can't stand pain, but make matters worse by trying to get rid of it. Put on giraffe ears. Try to hear what they are feeling and needing. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-2


Imagine connecting with the human spirit in each person in any situation at any time. Imagine interacting with others in a way that allows everyone's need to be equally valued. Imagine creating organizations and life-serving systems responsive to our needs and the needs of our environment. -- Marshall B. Rosenberg


In these long-standing conflicts, I find that most cases it gets resolved in about twenty minutes after each side can tell me the needs of the other. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1


Instead of playing the game "Making Life Wonderful", we often play the game called "Who's Right". Do you know that game? It's a game where everybody loses. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1


It's never what people do that make us angry, it's what we tell ourselves about what they did. -- Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.


Natural Giving: Anything we do in life which is not out of that energy, we pay for and everybody else pays for. Anything we do to avoid punishment, everybody pays for. Everything we do for a reward, everybody pays for. Everything we do to make people like us, everybody pays for. Everything we do out of guilt, shame, duty, or obligation, everybody pays for. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1.


NO is always a YES to something else. -- Marshall Rosenberg


NVC is a reminder; to focus our attention where we are most likely to get our needs met. -- Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.


Needs are the expression of life through us. -- Marshall Rosenberg


Never hear what a jackal-speaking person thinks, especially what they think about you. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communications, DVD-1


Never put your "but" in the face of an angry person. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-2


People don't make us angry, how we think makes us angry. -- Marshall Rosenberg


Punishment damages goodwill and self-esteem, and shifts our attention from the intrinsic value of an action to external consequences. -- Marshall Rosenberg


The Nonviolent Communication process focuses on what's alive in us and what would make life more wonderful. What's alive in us are our needs, and I'm talking about the universal needs, the ones all living creatures have. Our feelings are simply a manifestation of what is happening with our needs. If our needs are being fulfilled, we feel pleasure. If our needs are not being fulfilled, we feel pain. Now, this does not exclude the analytic. I simply differentiate between life-serving analysis and life-alienated analysis... Analysis is a problem only when it gets disconnected from serving life. -- Marshall Rosenberg


They have most likely said it because they have an unmet need. -- Marshall Rosenberg


This language is from the head. It is a way of mentally classifying people into varying shades of good and bad, right and wrong. Ultimately, it provokes defensiveness, resistance, and counterattack. It is a language of demands. -- Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication


Understanding and connection can transcend conflict. -- Marshall Rosenberg


Violence is a tragic expression of unmet needs. -- Marshall Rosenberg


We never really know what we want until after we get it. If after we get it, it makes life more miserable, we know that isn't what we wanted. If it makes our life wonderful, we know this is a strategy which will meet out need. That's why Paul Tillich, the theologian says we need to sin courageously. You ask for what you want, hoping to meet your needs. If you get it and it makes life worse, you learn that this isn't what I want. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1.


What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart. -- Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication


When I am angry I have a judgment and an unmet need. -- Marshall Rosenberg


When we hear the other person's feeling and needs, we recognize our common humanity. -- Marshall Rosenberg


When we understand the needs that motivate our own and other's behavior, we have no enemies. -- Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.


When you are in a jackal environment, never give them the power to submit or rebel. We want to teach this to children very early: Never lose track that you are always free to choose. Don't allow institutions to determine what you do. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1.


When you need empathy, you cannot give empathy. -- Marshall Rosenberg


Whenever you make a request of someone, hand them a little card which says this on it: "Please do as I requested, only — only if you can do so with the joy of a little child feeding a hungry duck. Please do not do as I request if there is any taint of fear of punishment if you don’t. Please do not do as I request to buy my love, that, is hoping that I will love you more if you do. Please do not do as I request if you will feel guilty if you don’t. Please do not do as I request if you will feel shameful. And certainly do not do as I request out of any sense of duty or obligation." -- Marshall Rosenberg


You don't have to be brilliant. It's enough to become progressively less stupid. -- Marshall B. Rosenberg


You're going to lose it when you follow the world "feel" with the words "because I think". Any time you are thinking, your chance of getting what you need is greatly decreased, especially when you follow the word "think" with the word "you". I predict you won't only not get heard, but I predict a defensive aggressive reaction. -- Marshall Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication, DVD-1.


[W]e have to live over into the other; we have to dissolve with our soul into the other. -- Rudolf Steiner 11/10/1919


Come out of the circle of time, and into the circle of love. -- Rumi


O, Great Spirit, open my eyes, open heart's wings, open my ears to your voice in all things. -- Rumi


Out Beyond Ideas of Right Doing and Wrong Doing, There is a Field. I'll Meet you There -- Rumi


I want to appreciate you without judging. Join you without invading. Invite you without demanding. Leave you without guilt. -- Virgina Satir


When we teach people to think in terms of enemy images, the bombs are not very far. -- Andrew Schumaker


Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself. All things are bound together. All things interconnect. -- Chief Seattle


When there is a lot of hurt associated with a long-unmet need, the person receiving the request can feel a heavy burden, sensing an almost insatiable demand for energy. Caregivers often need empathy around this, as it can produce a response of fear and self-protection. And people in desperate pain, to the best of their ability, should become aware of this, and not become attached to the strategy of a particular person to meet these needs. When everything is in balance, and all intentions are in check, a magnificent gift of healing flows in both directions. -- Lynn Senick, (w/development by BH)


There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. -- William Shakespeare, spoken by Hamlet


The only sensible person is my tailor. He measures me anew each time he sees me. -- George Bernard Shaw


Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. -- Shel Silverstein


Marshall Rosenberg, who teaches non-violent communication, was struck in reading psychological interviews with Nazi war criminals not by their abnormality, but that they used a language denying choice: "should," "one must," "have to." For example, Adolph Eichmann was asked, "Was it difficult for you to send these tens of thousands of people their death?" Eichmann replied, "To tell you the truth, it was easy. Our language made it easy." Asked to explain, Eichmann said, "My fellow officers and I coined our own name for our language. We called it amtssprache -- 'office talk.'" In office talk "you deny responsibility for your actions. So if anybody says, 'Why did you do it?' you say, 'I had to.' 'Why did you have to?' 'Superiors' orders. Company policy. It's the law.'" -- Sam Smith, Minutes of the Wannsee Conference, from the book "Why Bother", on the normalization of violence


I know nothing, except that I know nothing. -- Socrates


If it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -- Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn


Every human being shall see in each and all of his fellow-men a hidden divinity... that every human being is made in the likeness of the Godhead. When that time comes there will be no need for any religious coercion; for then every meeting between one man and another will of itself be in the nature of a religious rite, a sacrament. -- Rudolf Steiner


[I]n the future no human being is to find peace in the enjoyment of happiness if others beside him are unhappy. -- Rudolf Steiner


As a 62 year old businessman who had a near death experience during a cardiac arrest puts it - "One thing I learned was that we are all part of one big, living universe. If we think we can hurt another person or another living thing without hurting ourselves we are sadly mistaken. I look at a forest or a flower or a bird now, and say ' That is me, part of me'. We are connected with all things and if we send love along those connections, then we are happy. -- Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe


Love cannot remain by itself - it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action and that action is service. -- Mother Teresa


What you think of me is none of my business! -- Terry Cole-Whittaker, 1982 (book by same name)


Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand. -- Sue Patton Thoele


The first duty of love is to listen. -- Paul Tillich


Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created. -- Brenda Ueland


People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. -- Unknown


We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other. -- unknown, Source: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


During the 1950s the American psychologist Carl Rogers noticed the presence of a new faculty in the younger generation for which he used a word originally coined in 1912: empathy. In fact, what he was describing is a process which has become part of the experience of an ever-increasing number of those born after the end of the Second World War. Empathy arises out of sympathy, love, interest in and compassion for our fellow human being; it enables us to extend our own inner being into that of the other person and directly experience something of his essential nature. -- Baruch Luke Urieli, Learning to Experience the Etheric World


The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand. -- Robert Vallett


There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about. -- Oscar Wilde


Also see