Is “Fair” Enough? That is the Question.

(Note: NVC is an abbreviation for Nonviolent Communication, a fluid, ever-evolving language process created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It is also sometimes referred to as Compassionate Communication, and is based on universal human feelings and needs, the giving of empathy and making humble requests rather than demands. For more on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit

Today I learned from Susan Livingston, an NVC trainer in California, that the word “fairness” is not likely to be found on the vocabulary lists of universal human needs generally accepted by NVC trainers and supporters. I felt surprised, as I’d been referring to “fairness” as one of the universal needs we all have. Susan pointed out that it’s a loaded word, depending on the culture and cultural context in which it is used.

Looking more closely at the needs vocabulary list on, I noticed three other words that may substitute well for fairness:

1) Equality
2) Mutuality
3) Consideration

The word, “inclusion,” is also on the cnvc list, which seems like it may be a “distant relative” of the above three words.

Here again, we see why Dr. Marshall Rosenberg prefers to call NVC a living “process” rather than a language “model.” It is truly organic, shifting to meet the needs of the times. As human beings and communities grow and evolve, as we learn more about changing cultural contexts of words, so does the language of compassion change.

As our brains age, we may find it more difficult to remember new words on the vocabulary lists we carry around in our heads. Mnemonic tricks can help to meet needs for ease and reliability of memory. Two ways come to mind for me to remember Equality, Mutuality and Consideration

1) Einstein’s theory, E = MC squared.

2) The French word for “guy,” I believe, is “Mec.”

I’m curious to hear your feelings and ideas on this subject. Please consider responding here with a blog message. And thank you so much for bearing with me as my own learning and understanding of NVC evolves.

For more on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit

If you’d like to attend his NVC Support Group while in Miami, see RSVP instructions at

About swpollack

I’m an independent mediator and collaborative communication coach who can help you to co-create greater ease, connection and mutual understanding in your personal and professional relationships. As a non-traditional specialist, my aim is to get concrete results for my clients in a fraction of the time usually required by traditional therapy and counseling. Please visit my business website: . The emotion-based coaching work I do is deeply therapeutic, yet I am neither a psychologist nor a psychotherapist. Instead I work with a holistic, empathic process called compassionate, nonviolent communication. I also facilitate ongoing support groups for people who want to learn this organic process of nonjudgmental communication to help build bridges of connection, harmony, collaboration and understanding. For more about my Build Compassionate Relationships meetup group, visit: . I’ve been offering these services to the public since 2000 in the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, as well as by phone and through Skype conferencing. . Nonviolent Communication is a process developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It’s based on a very pure, nonjudgmental language of feelings, needs and requests. I’ve found this to be a powerful tool in my mediation work which involves bringing two or more people together despite a painful history of conflict.
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