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Marshall Rosenberg, a psychologist who was the creator of Non-Violent Communication (NVC), a communication process that helps to resolve conflicts without violence, died at 83 on this date in 2015. After spending his adolescence in a tough Detroit neighborhood (the family moved there one week before the 1943 Detroit race riot, which saw 34 people killed, 25 of them African-American), he studied clinical psychology, receiving his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in 1961. Rosenberg first used his NVC process during the 1960s civil rights era, in school integration projects seeking mediation and communication-skills training. He founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication in 1984, and provided training and certification to hundreds of people in some sixty countries. Rosenberg was the author of more than fifteen books. “At an early age,” he wrote, “most of us were taught to speak and think ‘Jackal.’ 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. ‘Giraffe’ bids us to speak from the heart, to talk about what is going on for us — without judging others. In this idiom, you give people an opportunity to say yes, although you respect no for an answer. ‘Giraffe’ is a language of requests; ‘Jackal ’ is a language of demands.” To see him speaking about his intentions in creating NVC, look below. To read a piece he wrote about “compassionate communication,” click here.
“Human beings the world over say they want to contribute to the well-being of others, to connect and communicate with others in loving, compassionate ways. Why, then, is there so much disharmony and conflict? Setting out to find answers, I discovered that the language many of us were taught interferes with our desire to live in harmony with one another.” —Marshall Rosenberg