Nonviolent Communication

How Chatbots Can Help Us Understand Ourselves Better

Chatbots can be incredibly useful in helping us understand ourselves, particularly in terms of communication, empathy, and personal growth. Here are a just a few of the ways in which they can contribute to our self-awareness and development:

1. Nonviolent Communication (NVC): Chatbots can be designed to incorporate NVC principles, which emphasize understanding, compassion, and empathy in communication. By checking our messages and communiques for signs of violence or aggression before we send them, chatbots can help us become more aware of our language patterns and the impact our words may have on others. This can ultimately lead to improved communication and stronger relationships.

2. Empathy: Chatbots can be programmed to recognize and respond to emotions, enabling them to provide empathetic feedback and support. By interacting with empathetic chatbots, we can gain insights into our own emotional experiences and develop a deeper understanding of how to support others in distress.

3. Lencioni’s Ideal Team Player Attributes: Chatbots can help us develop and refine our understanding of Lencioni’s ideal team player attributes, which include humility, hunger, and people smarts. By engaging in conversations and exercises that explore these attributes, chatbots can provide feedback and guidance on how we can improve our behavior in these areas. This can lead to increased self-awareness and better teamwork.

4. Active Listening: Chatbots can be used as an active listening tool, encouraging users to express their thoughts and feelings openly. By engaging in conversation with chatbots, we can practice articulating our thoughts and emotions more effectively, leading to a better understanding of ourselves and improved communication skills.

5. Self-reflection: Chatbots can help facilitate self-reflection by asking users targeted questions and encouraging them to think deeply about their beliefs, values, and behaviors. This process can reveal insights about our own personalities, preferences, and motivations, ultimately contributing to personal growth and self-awareness.

6. Goal Setting and Accountability: Chatbots can act as virtual coaches, helping us set personal goals, track our progress, and hold ourselves accountable. By discussing our objectives with a chatbot and receiving guidance on how to achieve them, we can better understand our strengths and weaknesses, leading to more effective self-improvement efforts.

Overall, chatbots offer a wide range of opportunities for personal growth and self-understanding. By incorporating principles of nonviolent communication, empathy, and Lencioni’s ideal team player attributes, they can provide valuable insights and support as we work toward becoming better communicators, team members, and individuals.

Unshackle Yourself from ‘Shoulding’: Embrace the Power of Choice

💡 Imagine a world where guilt, shame, and pressure dissolve, replaced by empowerment and self-determination. Discover the transformative impact of switching from “shoulding” to “might choose to,” and watch as conversations, writings, and thoughts become more authentic and humane.

➡ “Shoulding” refers to the practice of imposing expectations, obligations, or judgments on oneself or others, often leading to feelings of guilt, shame, opposition, or resentment. This habit can negatively impact mental health, relationships, and communication.

If you would like to eliminate “shoulding” from your conversations, writings, and thoughts, consider using the phrase “might choose to” instead. This alternative promotes a sense of autonomy and flexibility, encouraging individuals to make decisions based on personal values and preferences rather than societal pressures or perceived obligations. By embracing this approach, we can foster healthier, more empowering communication styles and thought patterns.

Cutting the Gordian Knot: Organisational Psychotherapy and Conflict Resolution


💡 Imagine solving the enigmatic Gordian Knot of your company’s culture and conflicts, with the genius of Alexander the Great – that’s the power of combining organisational psychotherapy with conflict resolution techniques, and the results can be nothing short of incredible.

➡ Organisational psychotherapy, at its core, is like tackling the Gordian Knot for a company. It’s a path to delve deep into the collective minds of the organisation, bringing to light the underlying assumptions and beliefs that shape its culture. In this process, it’s inevitable that conflicts will emerge, as people disagree over definitions, assumptions and their impacts on the organisation. However, it’s precisely at this intersection that conflict resolution techniques can work their magic, cutting through these knotty conflicts and allowing for smoother communication and collaboration.

When you’re up to your ears in organisational psychotherapy, you’re bound to step on a few toes. After all, you’re peeling back layers of the proverbial onion, exposing sensitive issues and emotions. This is where conflict resolution comes in handy, helping to nip problems in the bud before they spiral out of control.

A key aspect of conflict resolution is keeping one’s ear to the ground, actively listening to different perspectives, and seeking common ground. This approach allows conflicting parties to air their grievances, fostering an environment where people feel heard and valued. It’s like killing two birds with one stone: folks get to voice their concerns while the company gains insights into areas of improvement.

Moreover, by employing a “give and take” mentality, organisations can establish a culture of compassion and collaboration. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are harmonious working relationships. By encouraging empathy and understanding, conflict resolution techniques contribute to a healthier, more productive workplace.

So, when organisational psychotherapy and conflict resolution techniques go hand in hand, they create a powerful synergy. Organisations benefit from the insights gained through organisational psychotherapy, while minimising the angst and stress that arise along the way. As the saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine,” and addressing conflicts early on can save companies from bigger issues down the line.

The next time you find yourself embroiled in the complexities of culture change, don’t forget to employ some tried and tested conflict resolution techniques – you’ll be glad you did!

Fellowship As Protest

Relationship-building is an undervalued but vital tool in the arsenal of the modern-day employee. It is not enough to simply march in the streets or hold a sign aloft; building connections with like-minded individuals and fostering a sense of community is essential to creating lasting change. However, many businesses today actively work to undermine relationship-building in the workplace, promoting division and competition among employees at the expense of cooperation and collaboration.

This insidiousness can take many forms, from pitting employees against each other for promotions to encouraging a toxic work culture that values individual achievement over teamwork. But through active relationship-building, we protest against these destructive practices and create a workplace that values fellowship, cooperation and solidarity.

By forging connections with our fellow employees and working to create a sense of community, we challenge the dominant narrative of competition and individualism. This is not just a matter of improving our own working conditions; it is a powerful form of protest that strikes at the very heart of the capitalist system that pits workers against each other for the benefit of the few.

So let us not underestimate the power of fellowship as a form of protest. By standing together and fostering a sense of community in the workplace, we can create a better world for ourselves and for future generations.

Unveiling the Surprising Purpose of Anger and the Sustaining Power of Hope in the Quest for a Better World

Are you familiar with the two flames burning in the human heart? One fueled by anger against injustice and the other by hope for a better world? Discover the surprising purpose of anger and how hope sustains our fight for a more just and equitable society in this thought-provoking exploration of Tony Benn’s powerful quote.

Tony Benn’s quote, “There are two flames burning in the human heart all the time. The flame of anger against injustice, and the flame of hope you can build a better world,” captures the paradoxical nature of the human experience. On one hand, most of us are driven by a deep-seated need for justice and equity, and on the other hand, we are sustained by a persistent hope for a better future.

Anger is often viewed as a negative emotion, one that is associated with aggression, violence, and irrationality. However, anger also serves a surprising purpose: to signal to us that our needs are not being met. When we feel angry, and thereby become conscious of our need for justice and equity, we are more likely to take action to see our needs met, and to work towards creating a more just and equitable world.

The flame of hope, on the other hand, is fueled by our need for belief in the possibility of a better future.

Hope is what allows us to persevere in the face of adversity, to keep struggling for what we believe in, and to continue working towards a more just and equitable society. Without hope, our need for justice and equity can easily be overwhelmed, and our desire for change can be replaced by despair and apathy.

In conclusion, Tony Benn’s quote reminds us that as human beings, we are driven by two powerful forces: the flame of anger against injustice, and the flame of hope that we can build a better world. It is up to each of us to harness these forces and to use them to create positive change in the world. Anger can be a powerful signal, but let’s use it as such in the hope of getting our needs better met.

Mastering the Art of Discovering Folks’ Needs

Do you struggle to uncover the needs of those around you? Discover the power of the Antimatter Principle and learn how to cultivate empathy, deep listening skills, and observation techniques to uncover the desires, hopes, and concerns of the people in your life. With these tools, you can build stronger relationships, improve communication, and develop a greater understanding of those around you. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level and create more fulfilling connections.

I write a lot about attending to folks’ needs. I’ve explained the psychology behind it, and named it the Antimatter Principle. I’m often asked HOW to discover folks’ needs so we can attend to them. Here’s a brief response.

Attending to the needs of others is an essential part of building strong relationships and creating a fulfilling life. However, discovering these needs can be challenging. The first step in discovering folks’ needs is to cultivate empathy and deep listening skills. This means paying attention to both verbal and nonverbal communication and being present in the moment.

To begin, it’s important to ask open-ended questions and encourage the other person to speak freely. I often start out with “Is there anything you’d like to have happen?” This can help uncover their desires, hopes, and concerns. Additionally, observing their behavior can also give clues to their needs. For instance, if someone is constantly checking their phone, they may be feeling disconnected and in need of attention. Caution: It’s way too easy to project your assumptions into what you observe. Always test such assumptions by asking e.g. “I see you checking your phone. I guess this might mean you’re feeling disconnected?”

It’s also essential to recognise that folks’ needs change over time. Therefore, it’s important to continually revisit the dialogue and check in with people to ensure that their needs are receiving attention.

In attending to folks’ needs, it’s important to recognise that everyone is unique and has their own set of needs. Thus, it’s crucial to approach each individual with an open mind and an intention to learn about them. By doing so, we can develop meaningful connections and improve our understanding of others, leading to greater empathy and compassion.

Empowering Communication: A Philosophy for Success

Imagine a workplace where honesty and directness are not only accepted but celebrated, and communication is clear and respectful. This is the world of both Radical Candor and Nonviolent Communication.

The concept of Radical Candor has been widely reported, but we can choose to understand that it’s not the same as “brutal honesty.” Radical Candor is a philosophy that emphasises clear communication, feedback, and ongoing strengthening of interpersonal relationships. It encourages people to provide guidance and support to their each other, while also holding each other accountable for their performance. Radical Candor is all about being honest and direct, while still showing empathy and understanding.

In contrast, Nonviolent Communication, also known as NVC or Compassionate Communication, is a communication process developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. It focuses on identifying and expressing feelings and needs in a way that fosters mutual understanding and connection. The goal of NVC is to create a shared understanding between individuals by exploring and acknowledging their needs.

While both Radical Candor and Nonviolent Communication emphasise the importance of clear communication and empathy, they differ in their approach. Radical Candor encourages direct communication, even if it’s uncomfortable or difficult, while still maintaining a level of compassion and care for the individual. On the other hand, NVC emphasises direct identification and expression of needs in a way that fosters mutual understanding, compassion and respect.

In summary, Radical Candor and Nonviolent Communication both seek to improve interpersonal communication and relationships. Both approaches have their strengths, take your pick, or apply both in concert!

The Dangers of Projecting Needs onto Others

Projecting needs onto other people without evidence or dialogue can be a dangerous and problematic behavior that can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and even harm. Assuming that we know what other people need can reflect a lack of empathy, self-centeredness, and a belief in our own superior knowledge or intuition.

When we project our own needs onto others, we may be blind to their individual experiences, perspectives, and preferences. We may overlook their unique circumstances, cultural background, or personality traits that can shape their needs. Moreover, by stating unequivocally what other people need, we may come across as arrogant, dismissive, or manipulative, and erode trust and rapport.

To avoid projecting needs, we might choose to practice active listening, empathy, and curiosity. Instead of blithely asserting that we know what others need, we can ask open-ended questions, seek clarification, and pay attention to nonverbal cues. By doing so, we can gain a better understanding of their needs and show that we value them and their feelings.

Ultimately, projecting needs onto other people can be a barrier to effective communication, mutual respect, and collaboration. By acknowledging our own biases, limitations, and uncertainties, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate environment where people feel seen, heard, and appreciated.


The Secrets of Human Behavior: A Techie’s Guide to People

Welcome to a guide to understanding human behavior and its drivers. As tech enthusiasts, you likely have a deep understanding of how technology impacts our lives, but probably less insight into the intricacies of human relationships and social dynamics.

First, let’s delve into what drives human behavior. At its core, behavior is driven by our needs, be it for food, safety, connection, or self-expression. Understanding the needs that drive our actions and reactions can provide us with insight into why we behave the way we do.

Now, let’s talk about social dynamics. Relationships are an integral part of our lives, and our interactions with others shape the way we perceive the world and ourselves. It can be helpful to understand the impact that our words and actions have on others, and how our own experiences, assumptions and beliefs impact our relationships. This is where Nonviolent Communication (NVC) comes into play.

NVC is a method of communication that prioritises empathy, respect, and understanding. It emphasises the importance of expressing our own needs while also listening deeply to those of others.

Steeped in Violence: How Workplace Aggression Contributes to Society’s Problem

Violence is a pervasive issue in our society. In fact, the workplace is one of the most common settings where violence takes place. This is not just physical violence, but also psychological aggression, such as bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Unfortunately, this workplace violence has a ripple effect on society as a whole, perpetuating a cycle of violence that affects individuals and communities both.

The consequences of violence in the workplace are severe. For employees, it can lead to emotional distress, physical injury, and decreased job satisfaction. For employers, workplace violence can lead to increased insurance costs, decreased employee retention, and decreased employee morale. This creates a vicious cycle, where the violence in the workplace contributes to the violence in society, and vice versa.

Moreover, workplace violence is not limited to specific industries. It can occur in any type of workplace, from a construction site to a corporate office. This is due, in part, to the cultural norms and values that are prevalent in our society. For example, in many cultures, there is a belief that aggression and dominance are desirable traits in a leader, leading to a workplace environment that is prone to violence.

Similarly, cultural norms may also dictate that employees should be passive, leading to an environment where violence is tolerated and unreported.

The culture of violence in the workplace also extends to the wider society. For example, those who are subjected to violence in the workplace are more likely to become victims of violence in their personal lives.

In addition, exposure to violence in the workplace can desensitize individuals to violence, leading to a more violent society. For example, individuals who experience bullying or harassment in the workplace may be more likely to engage in violent behavior in their personal lives.

The cycle of violence between the workplace and society is not easily broken. To address this issue, we might look to changing the cultural norms and values that perpetuate violence in the workplace and society. Additionally, we might choose to provide support and resources to individuals who have experienced workplace violence, such as counseling, legal assistance, and simple compassion

In conclusion, violence in the workplace is a significant issue that has far-reaching consequences. By addressing workplace violence, we can help to break the cycle of violence that affects individuals and communities, and create a safer and more respectful work environment. The key to this is changing the cultural norms and values that perpetuate violence in our society, and promoting a culture of respect and nonviolence.

The Impact of Programming Language on Thoughts and Behaviors in the Workplace

Linguistic Relativity is the idea that language shapes the way we think. In programming, the imperative style is widely used in which instructions are given to the computer. The immersion in imperative communication via programming languages raises the question of whether this influences the programmer’s thinking and contributes to the preservation of command-and-control behavior in organisations. The use of “should” in modern Behavior Driven Development (BDD) is an example of rampant imperativism in language.

E-Prime is a modified form English proposed by D. David Bourland to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts. The idea of modifying language to improve thinking is not new.

The concept of a Nonviolent Programming language based on the Four Steps of Nonviolent Communication is an intriguing one. It raises the question of what a Nonviolent Programming language would look like and feel like to use and whether it would have knock-on advantages for Nonviolent BDD. If Gandhi, for example, had been a programmer instead of a lawyer, what would his code have looked like? If he had been immersed in programming languages for 40 hours a week, would he have held the same views on non-violence?

Adopting a Nonviolent Programming language and style could have positive implications for our personal and work-related communication, as seen through the lens of Linguistic Relativity. Spending 40 hours a week on Nonviolent Programming could contribute to the health and well-being of our human dialogues and personal interactions.

See also: Nonviolent Programming

One-on-One Meetings: Focus on Needs to Move From Mediocre to Masterful

One-on-one meetings are crucial for building effective and productive relationships within any organisation. To ensure that these meetings are successful, understand the social style of the person you are meeting with and adapt your communication and behaviour accordingly. One valuable technique for this the Wilson Learning Social Styles Model. This model identifies four different social styles, each with their own unique strengths and communication preferences. By understanding the social style of the person you are meeting with, you can adapt your communication and behaviour to better suit their needs and build a more effective and productive relationship. The model suggests that there are four social styles: the Analytical, Driving, Amiable, and Expressive. Each of these has its own characteristics, communication preferences, strengths, and potential development areas. By understanding the social style of the person you are meeting with, you can adapt your communication and behaviour to better suit their needs and build a more effective and productive relationship.

Additionally, the principle of nonviolence and the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) can also play a key role in making one-on-one meetings more effective and productive. NVC emphasises the importance of understanding and expressing our own needs and feelings, as well as listening deeply to the needs and feelings of others. By using NVC techniques, we can communicate in a way that is more compassionate and understanding and avoid the use of blame, criticism, or judgement. This helps to create a more positive and open environment for communication. Additionally, by approaching conflicts and disagreements with a non-violent mindset, we can avoid escalating tensions and find more constructive solutions.

Another valuable technique for one-on-one meetings is Nancy Kline’s Time to Think (and More Time to Think). This approach emphasises the importance of giving people enough time to think and reflect before responding, rather than expecting immediate answers or solutions. By creating a safe and quiet space for people to think and actively listening without interruption, we can help them to access their own wisdom and insights. Additionally, by encouraging people to share their thoughts and ideas, we can tap into the collective wisdom and potential of the group. This can foster a more collaborative and productive working relationship.

In summary, the key to great one-on-one meetings is a combination of understanding the social style of the person you are meeting with, incorporating principles of nonviolence and NVC, and using techniques like Time to Think. By implementing these approaches, you can create a more conducive environment for effective communication and problem-solving in one-on-one meetings, resulting in better outcomes for all parties involved.

Twelve Invitations for Fellowship

  1. We’ll have a face-to-face catchup (1:1) at least as frequently as once a week. Either of us can cancel whenever we agree to. It’s our time.
  2. Our 1:1 agenda will be in our meeting invite so we remember important topics. But either of us remains free to use the time for whatever’s on our minds.
  3. When we schedule each catchup, we’ll state *at the time we schedule it* what it’s meant to be about. We prefer to avoid chatting without an agenda. The agenda can be as simple as e.g. “social”.
  4. When we drop into each other’s DMs, we’ll always say hello, and what”s on our minds. No suspense. No small talk while we are wondering what the DM is going to be about.
  5. We will share directly any face-to-face news or announcements that significantly impact e.g. us, our several relationships, our teams or our community, not via a big meeting, recorded video or mailshot.
  6. We’ll share feedback when it’s fresh. Feeedback is about our needs and the extend to which they’ve been met (or not). There will be no hint of performance reviews or other judgements.
  7. We trust everyone to manage their own time. No one is expected to clear with anyone in advance re: their time or place.
  8. We will attend to folks’ needs by way of informing them of our whereabout and times of availability – if and when they have a need to know.
  9. Things gets done the way we decide is best. Our focus is on folks’ needs, not outcomes or outputs. Once we’ve agreed on where we’re going, how to get there is up to each of us, in agreement.
  10. A team is most effective when it has a shared purpose, moves forward together, looks after one another, and takes care of each other and all the folks that matter. We choose to continuously look to our left and to our right for opportunities to help our fellows. We request help whenever we need it. Nobody has to do things in isolation except by choice.
  11. There are no reporting lines, chains of command and control, hierarchy, etc. We talk with each other and anyone about anything we feel is relevant.
  12. We attribute credit when attribution serves folks’ needs. We will never exaggerate our own roles or minimize others’ contributions.

If all of this sounds like it might serve your needs, I invite you to reciprocate by giving of the one thing we all need most. Attention to folks’ needs.

I want to hear your feedback, to know when someone’s needs are going unattended, or are being well-attended to. To know when and how we can bring more joy into folks’ lives.

We always welcome folks’ thoughts, listen patiently, and never respond defensively.

If we attend to each other’s needs, we can learn and grow and bond together. That’s how I need to connect with what’s alive in you.

– Bob

You’re not interested in how I am. It’s just habit, or politeness, or a bit of both, to ask. And it rankles.

Maybe you ARE intesresting how I’m feeling, or in what you might be able to do for me. As sure as hell I’m interested in how you’re feeling.

In which case, why not get to the point?

How about asking “How are you feeling?” (And see: Feelings Inventory for clues).

And/or “Would you be willing to suggest what needs of yours are not being met right now, and how I might be able to help you with that?”

How often do we see folks touting “tech innovation” with nary a mention of e.g. relationship innovation, and innovations in “being human”?

Here’s some valuable non-tech innovations you could be pursuing:

  • Nonviolent Communication (Marshall Rosenberg).
  • Empathy.
  • Compassion and Compassionomics.
  • Zen.
  • Nancy Kine’s Thinking Environments.
  • Dialogue skills.
  • Appreciation of Power Dynamics in the workplace.
  • Reflection and surfacing one’s own assumptions and beliefs.
  • Attending to folks’ needs..
  • Apprciation of the role of the Domination System and the Myth of Redemptive Violence.

The Organisational Psychotherapy Solution for Staff Attrition

What with The Great Resignation, record levels of disengagement in the workforce, and a decade and more of low productivity, management knows that losing staff – a.k.a. “attrition”, “turnover”, or “churn” – is a sure and quick route to disaster.

Why Do Folks Quit?

All the data (surveys, research, etc.) points to folks leaving their jobs because:

  • Feeling unappreciated.
  • Burn out.
  • Absence of flexible work options. 
  • Unable to work when and when best suits their needs.
  • Stress (distress).
  • Difficult relationships with colleagues _ and especially, management.
  • Corporate culture.
  • Bullshit jobs (lack of purpose, especially shared or common purpose).
  • Being bored.
  • Limited career development a.k.a. a feeling of being “stuck in a rut”.
  • Violence.
  • Lack of fairness.
  • (For folks in Collaborative Knowledge Work organisations) feeling like “order takers” or factory workers.

The Single Root Cause

All the above reasons are just aspects of one root cause: folks quit when their needs are not being met (or not even attended to).

Different folks have different needs, so any broad brush approach is unlikely to bear fruit. Better to talk with people individually about their specific needs, and how well – or more often, poorly – the organisation is doing in attending to those needs.

This is not an approach that is even possible, absent organisation-wide support for it.

The Organisational Psychotherapy Assist

Organisational Psychotherapy can assist in reducing employee attrition levels in a number of ways:

  • By helping your organisation build a culture that prioritises and actively attends to folks’ needs (see also: The Antimatter Principle).
  • By surfacing your organisation’s existing collective assumptions and beliefs – assumptions and beliefs which most typically lead to some or all of the above-listed reasons for folks leaving.
  • By identifying the cognitive biases which lead to folks feeling their needs are of no consequence.
  • By convincing folks that your organisation takes them and their needs seriously, and that you are determined to build an environment in which they can do their best work (see also: Harter & Buckingham, 2016). 
  • By adopting well-established organisational practices, best suited to CKW.
  • By awareness of Management Monstrosities and how to avoid them

– Bob

Further Reading

Harter, J., Buckingham, M. & Gallup Organization (2016). First, Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. Gallup Press.

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing And Reflecting On The Organisation’s Collective Assumptions And Beliefs. [online] Falling Blossoms. Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2022].

%d bloggers like this: