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Pitfalls of Nonviolent Communication

Updated: Apr 4

The more we learn NVC, the more we seem to be able to see pitfalls. And the more we discover and become aware of the pitfalls and know how to deal with them, the more real we can make our communication.




Almost everyone studying NVC falls in love with empathic listening at some point, and start to see it as the solution to everything.

We might overdo empathic listening at some point, starting to see it as the solution to everything. We might forget that sometimes it is safer and saner to use protective use of force, as the person(s) we are aiming at listening to in order to create connection will hurt us or others if they have not encountered some limits. Falling in love with the experience of being heard with empathy we might also start expecting empathy from other. If everyone can access empathy they should be able to hear us any time we need it, right?

We might also start believing that the assumptions that often support us, such as that we will connect better if we find the need behind a judgment, are truths and we loose sight of their purpose, which is connection.


Another pitfall is to think that just by expressing ourselves in the NVC form we will be able to connect, stop judging others or to always avoid people from hearing demands. The opposite is also possible, that we think we have no benefit from using the form at all and we miss an possibility of reshaping both our thoughts and our language using the form as a tool to learn.


Below and in the attached PDF there is a list of 21 pitfalls to explore and learn about. This list is not comprehensive but is a start for us to explore where we might sharpen our attention.

Some pitfall is to believe that;

  1. it is very important that people express themselves according to the form (using four components).

  2. we don't need any form (the four components) because the intention is more important that the form.

  3. empathetic listening is always the best choice.

  4. NVC is the solution to everything and thus the only process/method needed for transformation.

  5. with NVC we can bypass the stages of dependency and independency and just act out of interdependency.

  6. to find out what we, or someone else needs, is the end goal of NVC.

  7. everyone is capable to access empathy at any time with the right (NVC) approach.

  8. the assumptions that NVC is based on, are "truths" that we can't argue with.

  9. it is better, (or righter), to express feelings and needs, than to express thoughts and opinions.

  10. I have to understand someone's feelings and needs in order to understand or connect with them (or vice versa).

  11. there is no right or wrong (and this is right).

  12. all life happens "on the inside".

  13. empathetic listening is a better way to create connection than honest expression.

  14. striving for more inclusion in all situations always mean we will meet more needs or more people's needs.

  15. empathic listening always leads to greater trust (even in situations where action is needed)

  16. transparency is a goal (or even a should) rather than a means.

  17. if someone is a trainer (or trained in NVC) we can expect to be heard with empathy.

  18. emotions are stimulated by a trigger, in some certain way in our brain, having little to do with previous experiences and our thoughts.

  19. all people share the same emotions, rather than sharing the same ability to construct emotions.

  20. anger, guilt and shame are less “natural” than other emotions (implying that other emotions are not constructed).

  21. observations can be neutral.

If you are curious to explore this with me, Liv Larsson, you might want to attend one of my upcoming trainings - for example our Online Yearlong mediation training.







pitfalls of nvc
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