Dr Marshall Rosenberg

Marshall 1934-2015Psychologist Dr Marshall Rosenberg died on Saturday, 7 February 2015 at 80 years old, from terminal prostate cancer. He was the creator of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and the founder and director of educational services for the Centre for Nonviolent Communication.

Marshall Rosenberg dedicated his life to the study and practice of the conditions that bring about peace. As a consequence, he knew well the critical, sometimes life-saving importance of emotionally-intelligent, awareness-based communication.

He drew on his own painful experiences in racially-divided Detroit and his training in psychology to develop Nonviolent Communication, a particular approach to addressing conflict that emphasizes listening with empathy, naming and expressing feelings in responsible ways, and recognizing our common humanity, even in the midst of our most difficult moments together.

Dr. Rosenberg’s passing is a great loss to those inspired by his embodied, practical approach to peacemaking. His work lives on as an inheritance, one that we may discover, rediscover and invest in ourselves and in one another, sharing these instruments of harmony that were meant to be shared in a diverse, complex, and complicated world.

Thousands of NVCers across the globe will no doubt continue his wonderful peace legacy, with renewed vigour, active passion and a collective vision of lasting world peace.


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Marshall Rosenberg was pre-occupied most of his life with the answer to two questions.

* What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature, leading us to act violently and exploitatively?

* Conversely, what allows some people to stay connected to their compassionate nature even under the most trying circumstances?

Not satisfied with the answers to these questions from his training in clinical psychology, Dr Rosenberg searched more widely. His explorations included the study of religion and anthropology, and the work of other psychologists, including Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow and Albert Ellis.

Called upon to help resolve conflicts during the period of desegregation in America in the 1960’s, Dr Rosenberg worked for many years in the field of conflict resolution. Gradually over the years, his distinctive approach to conflict resolution and communication evolved.

He supported people from many countries, including Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Serbia, Croatia and Sri Lanka. He also worked with people from many backgrounds, including police, street gangs, serial killers, teachers, students, counsellors, couples, business representatives, and religious groups.

Marshall Rosenberg chose the name Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to refer to Gandhi’s philosophy of ‘ahimsa’ or ‘nonviolence’. He shared Gandhi’s belief that true peace between people is achieved only when violence has subsided from the heart, to be replaced by compassion.

Here are 3 short talks by Marshall Rosenberg, outlining the fundamental principles of Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

Clip 1 – Nonviolent Communication – Part One (10 mins)

Marshall Rosenberg talks about how society has suffered under political ‘domination structures’ that emerged about 8,000 years ago. He reflects on the origins of Nonviolent Communication and describes how the process can be used pragmatically in conflict resolution involving religion. To illustrate its effectiveness as a diplomatic tool, he finishes by describing how he helped restore peace in the conflict resolution process between two warring tribes in Nigeria.

Clip 2 – Nonviolent Communication – Part Two (6 mins)

Marshall Rosenberg talks about how we all too often deal with our own shortcomings in ways which ignore our basic human needs. He then goes on to describe how modern medicine can sometimes misdiagnose depression as a chemical imbalance, and explains how such diagnoses seldom look at the internal dialogues we all have that can lead to our feeling depressed.

Clip 3 – Nonviolent Communication – Part Three (4 mins)

Marshall Rosenberg talks about Teilhard de Chardin’s theories of human evolution back to a more natural way – where no one advances at the expense of another. He speaks of his own experiences working with Nonviolent Communication and how enriching the lives of others is the most rewarding work humanity can engage in.

Marshall Gems
Nonviolent Communication shows us how to have the courage to face the power and the beauty that is within each of us.