Arthur Streeton – Hoddle Street, 10 pm

‘NVC is not OFNR’ (Observations, Feelings, Needs, Requests)

per Marshall Rosenberg

Street Giraffe

“This means prioritizing the consciousness over the form…” [OFNR]
~ Miki Kashtan





Handouts – ZENVC: The Way With and Without Words

“Gandhi’s work was experimental in a very rich sense of the word, for he tried all kinds of measures and methods, varying and altering them to find pragmatically what seemed to work best. The creative core of Gandhi’s life thus comprises essentially a continuing discipline of psychological experiment conducted within himself.”

~ Ira Progoff, p. 272 (chapter ten) of Depth Psychology and Modern Man


ZENVC Communication-Flow-Chart
[PDF of above]cycle Hart/Kindle Communication Flow ChartChart


Yvette Erasmus, PsyD – YouTube

Typically, the term ‘street giraffe’ is synonymous with the notion of naturalizing [NVC] which indicates a less formal and more colloquial way of embodying Nonviolent Communication (not necessarily adhering strictly to the [OFNR] form, while still retaining the substantive purity of its consciousness); most especially in a way that may be more connecting and approachable in everyday dialogue.

Street NVC Practice

Have you ever asked yourself,
“How do I say this to someone who doesn’t practice NVC?


Streetify-NVC [PDF]

Cross reference:

Naturalizing & Phrasing Needs & Connection-Requests

Miki Kashtan:  “I’m curious to know how many people have irritated people in your life by how you speak with NVC?  So, if I use NVC that is not fully integrated, then in a certain small way, I am imposing my practice on other people. So I want to take a moment of silence, as for me, this insight was of great depth for me, when I finally got it.

Than we find ourselves in a very difficult situation.  We no longer want to use the old ways but we don’t have the new ways integrated.  Be careful now, as you are at your most vulnerable.

One is to learn some techniques for making the language sound more natural.

Second is to have enough self-acceptance to let go of trying to use NVC with people, that are not NVC speakers, and just be spontaneous and let things happen.  We all survived many years of living without NVC.

And the third thing is to try make an explicit agreement with the person.  I want to give you a way of trying making the agreement… (continues)

Miki’s conclusion:  “…The second piece is to let go of perfection and to be honest and authentic about the spontaneous truth that lives in me.  Eventually I will know how to translate.  For now, if I don’t have the agreement, it is better that I speak jackal that is authentic than that I speak NVC that is imposed on you without your agreement and without my authenticity.  I much prefer that we speak authentic jackal than distorted NVC look-alike that isn’t real.  I hope you take this deep to your heart for the benefit of all beings.” [italics, mine own]


(Streetify has a variety of other connotations, for me/Pamela, beyond merely being synonymous with the notion of ‘naturalizing NVC’)

One of my earliest NVC mentors, ZENVC’s Jesse Wiens (co-author of The Ongo Book – ongo for ongoing, as with any meditative, ongoing practice), has this saying as to taking one’s practice: 

“…off the [meditation] cushion and out into life.”


Ken Wieland from Philadelphia, USA  (via Wikimedia Commons)

Another teacher, Miki Kashtan (author of a series of articles on Gandhian Principles for Everyday Living) often intentionally re-frames NVC as something beyond a pure self-discovery/personal-growth modality (in keeping  with the nonviolent, civic-minded tradition from which it stems).

Personal Growth and Social Change (Part 1) | The Fearless Heart

by Miki Kashtan

Many of us who practice nonviolence carry a vision of a world that works for all, where everyone’s needs matter and people and the planet are cared for. None of us know what will or could bring about our vision. Will it be a miracle of a single leader transforming the cultural assumptions and practices? Will it be a world collapse which will create a void and an opportunity to restructure society? Will it be a critical mass of people who inhabit different forms of human relationship? Will it be a nonviolent revolution? Will it be alternative structures that gradually attract more and more resources and people to them? Or will it be something else none of us can imagine?

Is “Being the Change” Enough?
Not knowing, how can we predict what actions that we engage in could potentially lead to social change? Here’s how one reader has expressed this challenge: “I don’t have the clarity I would like about your distinction between personal growth and social change work. Particularly within the NVC framework, where we intend to create change without coercion. We can model the values we want to see; we can invite, request, even try to persuade or instruct when the occasion seems appropriate, but we’re not forcing change on anyone. And so a big part of the force for social change that I am imagining comes from being the change that you want to see in the world, which to me sounds like personal development.”

Not knowing what leads to change, I am holding great humility regarding what I am about to say. I really don’t know… (continues)

See also:  Social Change Articles Based on Nonviolent Communication

“It’s a street fight, everyday.” ~ Brene Brown

“For me, it was a year-long street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight but probably won my life back.”
Brene Brown (via NPR)


Defined:  “In modern prose and poetry ‘street’ is used to define non-mainstream, a form of anti-establishment. It probably means to disassociate from what is regarded as ‘establishment’.”

(More on my idiosyncratic take here & here & beneath)

Marshall Rosenberg on ‘what is Nonviolent Communication’?

Part I

Part II

I once heard a Marshall Rosenberg anecdote that seems relevant to the notion of streetifying one’s NVC practice. Apparently he had workshop participants go off into separate groups for an extended period of time to come up with what NVC actually is and then, upon their return, offered his own view that he didn’t quite know what it was. My takeaway is that it’s not something static, but evolving. Perhaps even moreso not just as a collective body of work but in the lived experience of each practitioner.

In this vein Nonviolent Communication, at least for me, has been a path akin to how Virginia Woolf views — offering a disclaimer on — the subjectivity of a reader (similar to that John Steinbeck issued half a century later in his six timeless tips on writing) when she writes:

The only advice … that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. If this is agreed between us, then I feel at the liberty to put forward a few ideas and suggestions because you will not allow them to fetter that independence which is the most important quality that a reader can possess. After all, what laws can be laid down about books? The battle of Waterloo was certainly fought on a certain day; but is Hamlet a better play than Lear? Nobody can say. Each must decide that question for himself. To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions — there we have none.

Courtesy of
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABy D. Gordon E. Robertson (via Wikimedia Commons)

Pluralism of expression…”  

Excerpted (from clip beneath):  “…So, being kind to language is one of these—is one of these lessons that seems easy. It just means read, think and try to express your views, whether they’re for or against, in your own words, because my very strong sense is that if we have pluralism of expression, we’re going to be fostering pluralism of thought, and that if people can clarify why it is that they’re opposing this or that, they’re going to be more likely to be persuasive. And at a minimum, in the worst case, if you have your own way of expressing yourself, you at least clutter up the daily memes. You at least put a barrier in the way of the daily tropes. You at least form a force field around yourself and maybe the people who are closest to you, where it’s possible to think and have a little peace.”

Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of History at Yale University. His new book is On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

“Fostering pluralism of thought…”

This blog uses ‘street giraffe’, thematically (at least at times), with an additional, somewhat different — retaining one’s ‘bilingual’ tongue — connotation in mind (allow me to explain, utilizing an anecdote):

I once heard an anecdote of how to frame the arc of acquiring NVC skills (or embodying its consciousness), which seems particularly relevant to any discussion as to ‘streetifying’ NVC.  Borrowing from what I can only assume to be the psychoanalyst, Lawrence Kohlberg, and his stages of moral development, learning NVC was similarly broken down into three stages:  pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional.

To delineate between these, first imagine a toddler — representing “pre-conventional” — assembling an outfit that mixes stripes, polka dots and a lady-bug patterning.

Next, envision the same little girl, now an adolescent, and fervently wishing to blend in with the “conventional” milieu of her peers by wearing the same name brand jeans and sneakers (so as not to stand out!) as everyone else.

Finally, see her as an adult professional at Manhattan’s fashion week — a top notch designer of haute couture — assembling those seemingly bizarre “post-conventional” ensembles.  To the untrained eye, the post-conventional of high fashion costuming is not all that dissimilar to the “pre-conventional” polka-dots/stripes/lady-bug patterning.

But now the creative self-expression seems quite deliberate, of conscious intent/design, as there’s a method to the ‘madness’.

In my apprenticeship to NVC, I’ve found a similar kind of arc, where I am more cognizant of the ‘jackal’ or ‘girackal‘ ways in which I conduct myself, akin — at least on my better days — to the more intentional post-conventional haute couture ensemble. (Needless to say, I still impulsively react in less deliberative, more unconscious ways as well.)

I’ll say more at this ‘heterodox’ or ‘avant-garde’ approach at bottom, referencing a Mandela tactical approach to nonviolence, rather than Gandhi/King principle-centric one.

(Although it’s worth noting that MLK was rather gifted in the jackal oratory realm.)

See more here:  Calibrating the Dream/Nightmare

The interview that had the most influence on me, as an NVC practitioner:

Watch Charlie Rose: Helen Mirren Online | Hulu

When there’s approximately nine minutes left in the interview Charlie poses the question:

Q:  Did you say that your greatest guru is Francis Bacon?

A:  Yes, artistically, yes.

Q:  How did he influence you?

A:  Well, he was a great painter but, obviously…

He wrote… You know there’s a book called Interviews with Francis Bacon and he put forth the concept that, at that time I just hadn’t thought of, of the tension between inspiration and technique.  And the way that accident is very important in art.  But that you can only achieve accident, in a full way, after you’ve fully mastered technique.  In other words he said, you know it’s true, that children under the age of seven are all — every single one of them — a genius painter.  They’re genius because it’s totally instinctive.  But you can’t be painting as a seven year old when you’re fourteen.  So, you know, you have to move forward.  And then you go through this painful process of learning technique when you’ve lost all your instinct, you’ve lost all your inspiration, and you’re just learning how to draw a foot.  You know.  And then you get through that and now you can allow accident to happen.  You’re open to accident.  You’ve got all the technique, you’ve got all that, it’s so deep within you that you don’t even have to think about it, it’s got to become thoughtless the technique, and then you can allow inspiration to come back.  The master of this is Al Pacino.  The absolute master.  He’s a master of allowing — he’s totally technical — he knows where the camera, every mark, he hits every mark, never fails, you know.  He knows the cutting, the editing, and then within that very structured form, which film is, very, you know, very tight — he’s utterly free and it’s just so inspiring to be around.

Al Pacino on Acting: “Repetition Keeps Me Green”

Additional Resources:

Street NVC: Bringing Your NVC Practice into Everyday Life!

Colloquial-Giraffe – Phrasing-Needs – Hart’s  Communication Flow Chart

 Re: Streetify – Part II

On a Heterodox or Avant-garde approach to a Nonviolent Ethos….

Nonviolent Communication — and that is what this blog is primarily about, communication/dialogue — is often taught by certified trainers who have, at their core, adopted Gandhi & King’s nonviolent ethos as a principle.  I have tremendous regard for the singlemindedness of their focus and do not intend to detract from the conviction this honorable tradition represents.  However, I have found that, speaking for myself only here, I would have likely dropped any apprentice to NVC if not for seeing an interview —  relatively early on in my studies — depicting Nelson Mandela’s alternate path and affiliation with nonviolence as a tactic.  This has afforded me more spaciousness, a broadened repertoire from which to draw upon in my dialogic forays, and helped me stay on what would otherwise have been too slippery a path for my foothold to grip.  I offer said interview referencing Mandela’s notion of nonviolence as a tactic (subordinate to an overarching principle), directly beneath, in case it is of value to anyone else as a practitioner of NVC.  In a sense, this is in keeping with viewing NVC as a strategy, rather than a need (a relatively noncontroversial statement).  My particular take may not be in alignment with what Marshall Rosenberg intended to impart, however he might yet have appreciated the exploration.

(Disclaimer:  Just to underscore, this blog is about dialogue, and does not intend to endorse or condone violence.  Mandela represents, for me, a way of incorporating NVC as a part of my communicative toolbox, as a means rather than an end in itself, in dialogue with another.)

Nelson Mandela, 2000 (5)By Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science (Nelson Mandela, 2000 Uploaded by Fæ) [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Have a core principle; everything else is tactics. Mandela’s principle was equal rights for all, regardless of race, class or gender.
~  Mandela’s Way

CHARLIE ROSE: The other thing that he had was some sense of what comes across here is the steel that was there.


CHARLIE ROSE: And he often said to you that everything — it wasn’t about principle, it was about tactics.

RICHARD STENGEL: Well, it’s funny, he had — that’s one of the chapters, is to have an overarching principle, and everything else is a tactic. He would say — and I’m going to say it in a plainer way than he would — he said, you have to have one core principle. He had one core principle above everything else, an overarching principle, which is to bring democracy one person, one man, one vote to South Africa, to reverse the history of apartheid, to bring democracy there. Everything else was a tactic. So even, for example, the ANC’s original embrace of non-violence from the Gandhi tradition, he would say “That’s a tactic, that’s not a principle.”

CHARLIE ROSE: So you can violate that.

RICHARD STENGEL: That’ right. And he did. When he became the leader of the ANC’s military wing he violated that, because he felt to achieve his great goal he needed to do that. And that was just a tactic. A lot of us would say, no, that’s a principle. He would say that’s a tactic.


Nelson Mandela’s Fight for Freedom – Best Documentary

Mandela became disenchanted with utilizing pure nonviolence, after fifty years of this approach being tried in South Africa with little to no results…

More on Mandela, King, Gandhi, Christ via Nonviolence