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Richard Broadbent talks about his newly published books on NVC

Richard Broadbent has just published two books on NVC. The first, Choosing Life: The Practice of Compassionate Communication, is an introduction to NVC, with a full overview and practical exercises to follow. The second, The Spirit of Compassionate Communication, is an exploration of the spiritual dimension of work on communication and relationship. Here he talks about writing the books:

Q         Most of your working life has been in business. What led you to NVC?

A huge part of any business is people management. Through all the HR speak, some basic things became pretty clear to me. For example, happy people work better than unhappy. People who feel valued perform better than those who don’t. Fear inhibits performance. And above all, managers manage most effectively when they are increasingly self-aware and decreasingly needy of personal affirmation.

These things led me first to look hard at myself and how I related to those around me. Later, I became more and more interested in how small groups of highly motivated and talented people often struggled to share effectively. These experiences led me to start exploring communication and relationship more deeply and ultimately to NVC.

Richard Broadbent with his newly published books

Q         Is that when you first met Marshall Rosenberg?

Yes, it was in 2002 I think, on one of his trips to London. Marshall’s core insight, that however people are expressing themselves they are attempting to express an inner value shared by all humanity, really resonated with me. It made so many things clear. I joined an Intensive training with Marshall shortly after and then trained both in the UK and increasingly with Robert Gonzales in the US.

Q         What drew you to Robert Gonzales trainings?

Robert, who was of course one of Marshall’s earliest students, focuses very much on the energetic dimension of NVC. The linguistic dimension (Observation, Feelings, Needs, Requests) in itself can be truly life enhancing but what Robert emphasised was that the reason it was life enhancing was the energetic exchange underlying the words. By focussing attention at this level even more learning was available. This was very much in tune with my own experience of NVC.

Q         When did you begin sharing NVC?

I had the great good fortune to share this whole journey with my wife, Jill. We did all the trainings together, practiced together, helped and encouraged each other when it seemed tough, using our own relationship as the training ground.

I truly believe that as a result, our relationship has flourished in a way in might never have done. I felt enormous gratitude to everyone who had been part of this journey, and with that a sense that the next step was to seek in my turn to give something back. This led Jill and I to offer workshops, intermittently at first until, about ten years ago we committed to offering a structured program of workshops, practice groups and one-on-one work in London which we still do.

Q         Why “Compassionate Communication” rather than NVC?

It’s really just a preference for bringing “compassion” into the terminology which in my perception is the heart of what it is about as opposed to “nonviolence.” But the terms are interchangeable really.

Q         And what led you to write the books?

Partly it was because my business commitments reduced, meaning I had more time to devote to NVC. I was drawn to the idea of expressing something that meant so much to Jill and I, in a form that would be available to those who might not otherwise come to a workshop, or maybe who just preferred reading. The possibility of reaching a wider audience was exciting.

I think it was also a personal thing, a desire to explore just how NVC lived in me. Writing is a great discipline. The mind assumes it knows things, but the discipline of written expression calls for a deeper clarity and understanding. In the re-writing of pages and chapters, I came face to face with the assumptions and beliefs I held, and also with my own sincerity and motivation. In the end, there was great humility in discovering how NVC truly lived in me. I learnt more from writing them than I ever expected.

Q         Where are the books available?

Both books are available from Amazon and from our [Richard and Jill Broadbent] centre’s website (www.compassionatecommunication.co.uk). They are also available at Watkins bookstore in central London. 

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