Signs that Demand “Peace & Quiet!”

(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 information on services offered by Steve Pollack, visit

As someone who has facilitated weekly classes in spiritual meditation for over two decades, I’ve faced challenges in various venues where I’ve taught. One of the main challenges has been loud, unwanted sounds, or noises, that make it more difficult for people to experience the inner silence and bliss of meditation. We’ve heard all sorts of noises, including children pounding their fists and even their basketballs against the door of our classroom. Hearing them, I’ve felt irritated, frustrated and distracted from my teaching work. I needed some understanding, respect and consideration from the kids out in the hallways.

Participants in my classes were quick to suggest a strategy: Why not put up a sign on the door? So I put one up saying:


The noises did not abate. My students and I grew increasingly confused and annoyed. I asked for support from the employees at the community center’s front desk, but the employees asking for quiet seems to have been heard by the kids as just another demand. Just as they saw our QUIET PLEASE signs as a demand.

I’ve taught in many other venues, and have found similar noise issues arise. It’s happened even in a very elegant spa setting. I tried all sorts of signs. Big bold ones. Small, discreet ones. We even tried using beautiful, elegant paper with a colorful print background.

Nothing worked the way we’d hoped it would.

Finally, just a few weeks ago, I broke out of the mold of the old QUIET PLEASE! signs. Instead I tried coming from an NVC consciousness, which involves requesting specifically what you do want people to do to help meet your needs for quiet. The new sign reads:

“Meditation Class next-door requests your soft, gentle voices until 7pm. Thank you for your support.”

This sign has been more effective than any others over the years.

Coincidentally, I happened to see an author on Public Television recently talking about his friend the horse farmer. People would pull off the road in their cars and feed all sorts of unhealthful foods to his horses. He tried signs that say “DO NOT FEED THE HORSES,” but the problem continued. He added “PLEASE!” to the signs, but this only seemed to help more people notice the negative/demand signs, and the result was even more unwanted feeding. Finally, he took down the other signs and put one up saying: “We Only Eat Carrots and Apples.” That was the happy ending to the story.

If this blog entry helps you to find a happy ending to a sign story, I’ll be delighted, and would love to hear about it. Please do share any relevant stories here my blog if you wish. Thank you!

For information on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit

Visiting the Miami area? You can attend Steve’s NVC Support Group by leaving your rsvp here:

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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