Original NVC Support Group Exercise #2

Here’s another way to get most everyone in an NVC support/practice group to participate in an authentic and personal way. This exercise illustrates the meaning of dogmatic demands, as opposed to requests. Many people interested in NVC seem to dislike religious dogma, and an iconic example of this would be the Ten Commandments. We don’t always like to have to obey commandments, even if they are believed to be divinely inspired. Yet we all tend to have our own personal Ten Commandments, handed down to us not by divinity, but perhaps from our families or other cultural or personal influences. These commandments (demands) could apply to our family members, partners, spouses, friends, etc. Since these are demands, they do not need to be couched in any kind of proper NVC language or in giraffe terms. Just create them freely using any jackal language you may want to use that comes naturally and easily.

Ask the group to write down a list of 5 to 10 of their own commandments, things they demand or expect from the people in their lives, which are non-negotiable. Examples:

1) Thou shalt not raise thy voice at me when we are discussing or even arguing about an issue
2) Thou shalt never ridicule or show disrespect for the NVC process
3) Thou shalt always be willing to hug or cuddle with me as needed
4) Thou shalt not waste any food or money and I have final say about what constitutes waste
5) Thou shalt never talk behind my back

Ask for volunteers to share a commandment, reading it out loud to the group, and then support them in translating the demand into observations, feelings, needs and requests. See if they can come up with specific, feasible, positive-action requests. The positive action request is especially important for commandments that start out with Thou Shalt Not…

Good luck with this, and may the divine force be with you : )

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: www.mediation-usa.net . 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: www.nvccoachmiami.com . 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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2 Responses to Original NVC Support Group Exercise #2

  1. Hey there!

    Thanks for the articles. I appreciate what you’re doing.

    I shared this exercise with my practice group last week. Thought you might be interested in a debrief.

    I found the exercise deceptively simply. But in practice, this was an unexpected opportunity for candid exploration. Everyone in the group shared and I, personally, experienced a deeper connection with my fellow practitioners. That’s what it’s all about, for me.

    I was surprised by the level of engagement in the group. But commandments being all about Authority Figures, the conversation went to parents pretty quickly. Then it got even deeper when we talked about the commandments WE have laid down for others.

    What I thought innocuous, “Thou shalt not drag thy feet,” and, “Thou shalt not whine,” wasn’t.

    In short, we LOVED it.


    • swpollack says:

      Hello Leanne!

      Thank you SO much for sharing a glimpse of what happened in your practice group when you tried this exercise. I agree, it appears to be so simple and yet it goes to surprisingly deep places. When I read your comment, I felt grateful, encouraged and hopeful that my work may help to support others in their practice groups and in their own personal practice of NVC. It really fulfilled my need for support and connection with practitioners “out there.” By writing and posting, you are not only “out there” but “in here”… in my heart : )


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