Learning a new language for a nonviolent revolution

Our Non Violent Theatre trainer, Marta Skorczynska talks about non violent communication.

Photo by Jo Hilton on Unsplash

The world I know is build on judgments and opinions. As a psychology graduate I was trained to diagnose and categorise, measure and give objective verdicts. How many times were you asked: „what do you think about it?”, „what is your opinion?”, what is correct or not, good or bad? What is the objective truth? Do you remember when someone else was giving their opinion about you?… And now a different question, how many times were you asked: „how do you feel with that?” Or, „what do you need in that case?”

Marshall Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and a philosophy doctor, who later became a world known conflict mediator, searching for ways to communicate meaningfully and effectively with others realised how we are used to exchange judgments about each other and the situation instead of communicating to create an authentic relation. He decided that feelings and needs were the clue for that, while not many people would pay any attention to them and rather avoid in serious adult conversations. Rosenberg described how the communication could look like when people consider the meaning of feelings and needs, naming this a language of life coming from the heart. The language which he knew from his academic career, and I recognised too, as you might have as well, was a different one. Judgmental, coming from a position of constant fear, where I have to know better and faster who is going to attack me, always ready for defense.

The importance of feelings

Photo by Joseph Gruenthal

The method developed by Rosenberg called Nonviolent Communication (NVC) points finally to the importance of feelings. They are the signal that our needs are met or unmet, and push us to reflect on what it is that I need in that specific moment. If we look at the needs, and ask people around, we may realise that most of them are universal, and the most fundamental for humans are the needs to be noticed and appreciated. It means that just noticing that the other person is going through some emotions and asking what do they need, already creates a connection! Thus, what separates us are not the needs, as some of you might have thought, but the strategies we choose, consciously or not, to meet them. The strategies may be in conflict, while we might discover that we are actually fighting to meet the same need.

As an applied drama trainer I recognise one more language to add to the recipe for an authentic communication — the body language. Since the education I remember has taught me to forget about my body and focus on analyzing instead of feeling I decided to explore what the education has not thought me, looking there for better strategies to learn the nonviolent communication. This is how I rediscovered the live body, where the communication begins.

The body is not only a space which I occupy, it „lives” my existence. Dance and movement therapies teach us that through movement and action people develop awareness and identity, which changes continuously. Memories, thoughts and feelings influence how behaves the body, which influences feelings and thoughts, and so on. The physical body and the body experienced by the mind are inseparably connected with one person, yet it may happen that they function without communication between each other. Movement leads and manages the change in the physical body, while the inputs from muscles and nervous system have the ability to influence the mood and cause emotional reactions which shape the thoughts about ourselves, the others, and the world. In drama activities I invite people to use the whole of them, body and mind included, for a transformative learning experience on a personal and relational level. I see it as the most effective way to learn a new language of life which Rosenberg called the Nonviolent Communication.

To all interested in exploring more about the Nonviolent Communication I recommend watching the author himself explaining the fundamental assumptions underlying the approach and its elements in many videos you may find on YouTube. Enjoy!


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Interested in the matter? Would love to explore it more with us? Join our next training course in France — Non Violent Theatre! More and info and how to apply here (hurry up, deadline is 12 June).


Article is written by Marta Skorczynska, a non-formal education trainer, certified in drama methodology experienced in communication and managing multi-cultural group.


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We craft international workshops for artists, educators and youth workers. Together we create pedagogical artwork, share and invent practical solutions to social problems.