Business Books In-Brief: Marshall Rosenberg’s Non Violent Communication

24th September 2018 by Mark Pinnes


Look beyond the dreadful title. This book has been reprinted multiple times and been passed from person to person for 19 years, despite the publisher’s tin ear.  If it is cheating to listen, rather than read for the Flagship Mini-MBA – I recommend you cheat, too. Rosenberg’s mellifluous baritone is hypnotic.

Rosenberg was a psychologist, mediator, author and teacher – he spent his life getting people to talk, rather than [sometimes literally] kill each other. His methodology took him around the world’s most contentious places, throughout the world of big business and the corridors of power.

At bottom, this approach is about recognising what emotions are alive in the person you are communicating with, acknowledging them – either tacitly or directly, and using that as the basis for your discussions. I regret the last sentence, it’s a vast over-simplification of his approach, which is itself simple; but his words are profound and transformational in a way that this paragraph fails to be.



As a boy, Rosenberg’s family was transplanted into the midst of the race riots of Detroit, where 30 people were tragically killed. This formative experience put two questions in his mind that drove his whole career; “What gets into us, that leads us to violence?” and “How can we remain compassionate – despite what’s going on around us.”

Rosenberg developed a methodology which teases out emotions from facts, observations from judgements, and enables opposite perspectives to be resolved satisfactorily for both sides.



If this all sounds too ‘Hippy Dippy’ for your taste – I’d like to start by saying I have found this book to be profoundly helpful in engaging with clients and colleagues – it has helped me make great progress and profits. The fact that it improved my marriage and relationships with my kids is a very welcome side effect.


I thoroughly recommend the Audio book.

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