Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0287, January 30, 2007 ....

Dear friends,

What is it that has us creating sides, usually two, just about everywhere? In our families, communities, government, we seem to polarize around two sides and call one side right and the other wrong (or left). Why only two sides? Isn't it silly? Or is it? Perhaps there's something deeper at play in our collective, cultural psyches that has us thinking this way.

In this week's article, "
Getting to the Core of Conflict, we explore this notion of right and wrong. We also review a simple but profound solution to resolving conflicts in an approach called "Nonviolent Communication," developed by Marshall Rosenberg. We're also offering a 5-day teleclass around conflict that starts the week of February 12...

Transforming Conflict in the Workplace.
This 5-day teleclass will help you remove the fear and uncertainty in working with conflict in groups and organizations. Led by a 25-year expert in the fields of facilitation and mediation, Harry Webne-Behrman. Class starts February 12th. See details at the end of this issue.

Facilitating at a Distance. This 5-day teleclass teaches the Essentials of Teleclass & Virtual Meeting Facilitation. This class is for those of you wanting to offer a teleclass but don't feel you have all the skills and knowledge you need to do so, or for managers working with distributed teams that require you to facilitate virtual meetings. Class starts February 5th. Click here for details.

Warmest regards,

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of


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The Point

Getting to the Core of Conflict
Exploring the method of "Nonviolent Communication" to resolve conflicts.

Relating Skill

A theologian named Walter Wink suggests that violence has been a social norm in the human community for some eight thousand years. That's when a myth evolved that the world was created by a heroic, virtuous male god who defeated an evil female goddess. From this point on, we've been in this struggle of good and evil, right and wrong, which has supported the development of a system of "retributive justice."

In this system, the majority surrender their responsibility to "authorities" who levy justice by deciding who "deserves" to be punished and who deserves to be rewarded. Further, if we can make a case for ourselves being "right" or "good", that immediately implies that the other side is "wrong" or "bad" and we supposedly "win." We've been so ingrained with this strategy that it really seems to make sense to most of us. In fact, many may argue there is no better strategy. But it's really absurd when you think about it. Isn't it? Wouldn't it be better to find a strategy that helped everyone win? A strategy that sought to restore harmony within the larger social fabric?

A man named Marshal Rosenberg has developed just such a strategy that he calls "Nonviolent Communication" (NVC), which promotes "restorative justice." This approach, instead of asking the question, "Who's to blame here?" seeks instead to answer the question, "How do we restore peace?" Or put another way, how do we restore a state in which people care about one another's well-being?


NVC is a four-step strategy:

1. Observe what is happening in a given situation. Objectively listen to the messages coming from both sides of the conflict. What might they be feeling? What might they need or want? Read between the lines if necessary and prompt them to uncover their feelings and their needs.

2. Identify what each party is feeling. Our bias toward analysis frequently has us talking "about" what we think is going on more often than actually expressing what is going on for us. "Thinking about" things is an abstraction at least one level removed from our reality. It also comprises "lifeless" conversation. Our present moment feelings and senses express what is "real" and "true" for us now. These are expressions of our life force in real time.

3. Identify what each party needs. When we clearly express what we actually need in a given situation, we show respect for ourselves. And by "owning" our truth in this way, we show respect for the other party as well.

4. Have each side make requests for desired outcomes. Once each side understands what the other feels and needs, we have a chance to use our energies to create win-win solutions. Energies that otherwise may be wasted attempting to force a loss on the other side.

This strategy may seem obvious and simplistic, yet most people, particularly when ensnared in conflict, don't speak this way to each other. Most of us rebound into our conditioned approach of defending our positions and blaming or pointing out the flaws in the other's logic.

With most of us in western culture trained to repress or discount our needs, we often seek ineffective ways to assuage the ever present feelings showing up that are merely symptoms of our unmet and unconscious needs. We become addicted to consumerism and distraction and when we have disagreements with others, we try to "win" at their expense. After all, if the only game I know is win/lose, then by god I'd better do all I can to win.

As it begins to dawn on us that anytime someone loses in a closed system, we all ultimately pay a price...if not today, then tomorrow...then it becomes important to develop strategies that best meet everyone's needs.


Use the NVC approach with yourself right now around any conflict or unrest going on inside of you. Follow the four steps above to find a peaceful resolution between the conflicting parts. We'd love to hear how this works for you. Just reply to this email to send me your comments.



Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values,
by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Arun Gandhi

Do you hunger for skills to improve the quality of your relationships, to deepen your sense of personal empowerment or to simply communicate more effectively? Unfortunately, for centuries our culture has taught us to think and speak in ways that can actually perpetuate conflict, internal pain and even violence. Nonviolent Communication partners practical skills with a powerful consciousness and vocabulary to help you get what you want peacefully.

In this internationally acclaimed text, Marshall Rosenberg offers insightful stories, anecdotes, practical exercises and role-plays that will dramatically change your approach to communication for the better. Discover how the language you use can strengthen your relationships, build trust, prevent conflicts and heal pain. Revolutionary, yet simple, NVC offers you the most effective tools to reduce violence and create peace in your life—one interaction at a time.

Over 150,000 copies sold and now available in 20 languages around the world. More than 250,000 people each year from all walks of life are learning these life-changing skills.

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In the Spotlight

Transforming Conflict in the Workplace...

Would you be a more effective facilitator or leader with a more solid base of conflict resolution skills under your belt? 

All organizations and relationships encounter conflict. It's what we do with it that makes all the difference in the world.

February 12th - 16th, 2007 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time)

Remove the fear and uncertainty in working with conflict in groups and organizations in this 5-day teleclass series: Transforming Conflict in the Workplace, led by a 25-year expert in the fields of facilitation and mediation, Harry Webne-Behrman.

o Did you know that everyone has a unique style and response to conflict? Knowing your styles and response is critical to effective conflict resolution.

o Do you feel comfortable modeling effective conflict resolution skills as a facilitator? This is one of the best ways to prevent conflict from escalating.

o Did you know that 80% of effective conflict management consists of effective interpersonal communication? Knowing how to facilitate this kind of communication is key to mining the positive energy of conflict.

o Do you know what it takes to establish conflict resolution and staff facilitation programs within organizations? This knowledge is in growing demand for facilitators, coaches, and consultants.

In this class you will learn conflict resolution skills for facilitative leaders by exploring and evaluating your own styles and personal responses conflict, learning and practicing conflict resolution strategies in the context of group facilitation, and exploring how you can implement conflict resolution and staff facilitation programs within organizations.

By the end of the 5 days, you will:

  • Know your own conflict resolution style and response to conflict.
  • Be able to employ effective conflict resolution strategies with any group.
  • Understand how to deal with impasse in groups.
  • Be able to recognize others conflict styles and responses.
  • Have more confidence in dealing with conflict in groups and organizations.
  • Know the keys to implementing conflict resolution and staff facilitation programs within organizations.
  • And much more..

Click here for further details and registration.

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