Though all of us are capable of collaborating and using language that supports collaboration – we also grew up in a competitive society, with right and wrong and the concept of ‘bad’ and ‘good’ people. The language we use – not only in words, but also in the way we tend to phrase things when a problem arises – ‘you did this – which is why I feel like this now’, is often not at all beneficial for collaboration. To put it more bluntly: the language we use and the way we express our feelings openly distorts collaboration and creates tensions.

In the book ‘non-violent communication’, Marshall B. Rosenberg explores what he calls life-changing tools for healthy relationships. This sounds grotesk and it actually is grotesk. The four-part nonviolent communication process as described by Rosenberg, is relevant for anyone hat strives for healthy relationships. It also highly relevant for any advocate of change. Anyone that ever tries to change anything will recognize how easy it is to communicate in a way that creates defensiveness and hostility. It is much more difficult to keep things clear and focus on neutral observations (step 1), expression of personal feelings (rather than blaming the other) (step 2), communication of needs (step 3) and simple requests (step 4).

I recommend anyone to read this book and potentially even follow a course in NVC at one of the NVC-centers. It’ll make you a much happier person and will drastically improve your relationships, once you get the hang of it.