Our Approach

Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent CommunicationSM (NVC) is a specific approach to communicating – thinking, speaking and listening – which guides us in transforming old, habitual patterns of relating with new, compassionate ways of acting, expressing ourselves and hearing others. It is founded on language and communication skills which step outside of judgment, criticism, blame, and humiliation, and enable people to connect with the life in themselves and others in ways that inspire a compassionate response. Through the NVC model of communication, relationships, be they intimate or international in scope, become a dance between honest and clear expression and respectful empathic attention.

The purpose of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is to strengthen our ability to inspire compassion from others and to respond compassionately to others and to ourselves. NVC guides us to reframe how we express ourselves and hear others by focusing our consciousness on what we are observing, feeling, needing and requesting.

In NVC we learn to make careful observations free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us. We learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others, and to identify and clearly articulate what we are wanting in a given moment. When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed, rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion.  Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC fosters respect, attentiveness and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.

While it is taught through the use of a concrete model, and is referred to as “a process of communication” or a “language of compassion,” Nonviolent Communication is more than a process or a language. As our cultural conditioning often leads our attention in directions unlikely to get us what we want, NVC serves as an ongoing reminder to focus our attention on places that have the potential to yield what we are seeking—a flow between ourselves and others based on a mutual giving from the heart.

Founded on language and communication skills that enable us to remain human, even under trying conditions, Nonviolent Communication contains nothing new: all that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries. The intent is to remind us about what we already know—about how we humans were meant to relate to one another—and to assist us in living in a way that concretely manifests this knowledge.

—adapted from “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.; PuddleDancer Press

Imagine: Connecting with the human spirit in each person in any situation.

Imagine: Interacting with others in a way that allows everyone’s needs to be
equally valued.

Imagine: Creating organizations and life serving systems responsive to all our
needs and the needs of our living systems.

Restorative Circles

Duke speaking about RC

Restorative Circles (RC) is a systemic response of community self-care that directly addresses a community’s sense of relatedness, belonging, cohesion and connection. It invites us into a whole new way of understanding and experiencing being in community, engaging in justice, and living interdependently. RC establishes a simple, concrete structure which empowers communities to consciously choose how they would like to respond to misunderstandings and conflict before it occurs – a form of proactive conflict transformation.

It enables a community to choose a nonviolent response to conflict that involves the whole community in discovering their own sustainable strategies by addressing immediate as well as underlying long-term causes.

Restorative Circles offers ways for individuals, families, schools, organizations, and communities to create concrete spaces for conflict that are safe and constructive. RC does this by creating a structure and forum through which diverse peoples can dialogue with respect and understanding in order to reach agreements that sustain effective and nurturing relationships, both personally and within our larger society. Restorative Circles has rediscovered and adapted ways for communities to promote responsibility and healing, and recover power on profound levels. It enables us to rethink justice, and to engage with the challenge of consciously building whole system responses to community well-being. This has opened up revolutionary possibilities for furthering a culture of peace.

Restorative Circles, pioneered by Dominic Barter and incorporating many of the skills and principles found in Nonviolent Communication, are being used with long-term success in schools, justice systems, faith groups, organizations and communities around the world. Independent research has found that over 90 percent of conflicts addressed through Restorative Circles have been resolved to the satisfaction of those involved. Restorative Circles were featured by the National Education, Science, Technology and Arts organization (NESTA) of the U.K. as an example of “radical efficiency” because of their effectiveness in delivering better public outcomes for lower cost.

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