Sotchi – Sotschi – Сочи – an NVC perspective

I has been quite a while since my last post.
I did want to write more but somehow I always felt, it has to be something “important” – until last week someone told me that my little blog is interesting and that this might be enough reason to go on, even without waiting for something “important” (thanks Jean-Marc).

So here it is.
Winter Olympics are starting today and articles are to be found everywhere: radio, newspaper, TV, G+ and so forth – but most of them not concerning the athletic events or the athletes, but rather Russia’s domestic politics, security or the threads towards security and – money.
I heard on the radio that 51% of the Germans will not watch the Winter Olympics (or at least claim not to) because of the massive money that was spent, the nature that was changed…and I thought – why not give it a try and find out why this reaction happens and find it out the NVC way. I will try to put myself in the position of someone who is “offended” by the amount of money that was spent and go through the 4-step-process with this in my mind (please again…those are not my thoughts, I am trying to empathize with someone who might think this way, try to imagine what is going on inside this person).

1. Observation: I hear in the news that 24 Billion Euros have been spent to create the needed surroundings for the Winter Olympics in Sotchi.

2. Emotions:  I feel shocked, I can’t even comprehend this much money. At the same time I find myself thinking “Don’t they have much poverty in Russia”? I feel myself getting angry, I tell myself the story that all this money could be spent much “better” and that all this is just a big show for the big man Vladimir Putin and a sign of Russia’s regained power towards the western world, towards us – towards me! Now I am getting angry at “our” politicians that they didn’t stop this, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Sotchi was even chosen and also very very disappointed that this is happening and that seemingly nothing changes – money makes the world go around.
That’s a whole bunch of powerful and energy-sucking emotions…

3. Needs: So what is behind these emotions, what is it that I (that person) am missing so badly, that I wish for?
Well…I have several ideas.
Maybe it is my wish that those in charge share the same reality as I do in seeing that all this money might have well been spent for other investments that would help the common people of Russia. Maybe it is my need for beauty, the beauty of nature, the very special asthetics of that region that I feel unfulfilled by the erection of massive monumental buildings. Maybe it is my need for shared values regarding equality or constitutional and lawful democracy that I see not met. Quite possibly I feel a lack of happiness and ease towards these Winter Olympics that I usually feel when such an event occurs. Most definitely there is one big need that is not met when I think of the Sotchi Winter Olympics: Happiness.

4. Request: My request towards the press might be – please concentrate on the athletes and the sports event for the upcoming 2 weeks so that I can enjoy the happiness and the accomplishments of the athlets and with that my happiness and exitement. My request towards the Russian authorities might be – please make sure that the wonderful nature in the Sotchi region is being taken care of during and after the events.

I can think of several other requests all regarding to the needs described above – please, dear reader, maybe you’d like to phrase a request in the comments section.

This is the end of today’s blog.
With this I was trying to show, how even for such occasions the idea of non-violent communication might be used in order to understand what is going on inside a person. In this case a person who says, maybe even angrily: “I will not watch these Winter Olympics!”
Of course, strictly using the 4-step-process is not always necessary, sometimes possibly not even “good” but it can help to empathize with someone else even if that person has a different view than I do.

Warm regards,

André Wolff



When talking about compassionate communication (or non-violent communication) you will always hear about the 4 steps

– Observation
– Emotion
– Needs
– Request

There’s another part, though, which I find really important to understand and it just crossed  my path again some days ago.

I was invited by a married couple, where I have had face-to-face communication with each of the partners before. I was presented the following situation:

The couple decided to reserve a free day together every once in a while since they both work a lot and don’t get to spend much quality time together. That day had been the day before I was invited to this mediation and it didn’t turn out the way they had wanted it to be. Eventually they both were very disappointed with the outcome of their shared day and were fighting about who was to blame.

I will spare you the details here on what I did (-> I will answer to questions, though, in the comments) but get to the point of this blog-entry.
After both partners realized that the other partner was just as disappointed as they were themselves we went to the unfulfilled needs and to their great surprise we worked out that acutally both were missing the same needs for that day – they both wished for togetherness and rest.
At this point they were not only surprised but confused because if they both were longing for the same needs – how could a day like that happen? And here’s my answer:

They simply have different known strategies to fulfill these needs. Those needs have a different meaning to them.
A simple example?
If I want to fulfill my need for calmness, rest, peacefulness I might jump into my old Mercedes and take a ride, windows and sunroof open, no radio playing, just cruising. If my wife wants to fulfill herself the same needs she might get outside into the garden, care for some flowers etc.
It would be a total desaster if we were to assume that however we fulfill ourselves our needs is the right way to help others fulfill their needs.

The key sentence in my conversation with that couple was: “But honey – what we did really meant togetherness and rest for me, but obviously not for you.”
Once that was clear, the path for future days together was much easier, they worked out a mutual request to plan the days together and make sure that both of their needs are met by the plans they were taking (the strategies they use to fulfill their needs).

Everyone might have the same needs globally – but we weigh them differently, we approach them differently and we might even understand them differently. It is important to understand that my strategies to fulfilling my needs are just that – my strategies.

Warm regards

André Wolff


Change is…


Good question, right? Change is good. Change is bad. Change is frightening.

No – Change “is” nothing. It’s what I make of it, it’s what the change is doing with me, inside me, what “makes” the change. Why am I writing this? Well, because change is going to happen and how better to write about feelings, needs and change than to show my own experience?

What happened (observation): The customer where I earn my money being a project manager for international project teams decided that from April on, homeoffice will not be allowed for external staff anymore.

What that did to me (emotions): It pissed me off…sorry. I immediately got angry, I felt all kinds of turmoil rising within myself, I felt anger, fear and disappointment.

Why did that happen inside me (needs): Well, so far I have been able to maintain an accepted balance between my work for the customer and my family life. Both are important for me – I want to be seen as dependable and reliable as a professional consultant and at the same time being close to my family is something that I don’t want to miss anymore. In addition to that I was immediately worried because I want to be able to support my wife, give her some easiness in those times where I can take the boys, give her a bit more room and also to be able to contribute to the life of both wife and children. All that seems to be in danger right now – or at least it looks like I can have those needs fulfilled less than before.

What I did with it: Well, at first I simply allowed myself to be angry, to fear. I strongly believe that this is very important. Connecting to yourself and realizing what it going on – even going into “authentic self-expression”. That doesn’t mean that I run around hitting people, it means that I realize what is going on inside me and if someone asks – be authentic: “I am angry, I hate this decision, it seems to rob me of a lot of things that I have been working for, right now I have the feeling that I am not appreciated here, my work is not appreciated.” Honestly – that is ok! Even if it might be the person that wrote the mail with the with the bad news, even if it is a superior.
Next step was self-empathy. Basically doing what I described above. I checked what happened (observation), I realized my feelings that came with it (emotions), I tried to find out what it was, that really troubled me (needs unmet) and finally I decided to write a mail to that superior and ask for a personal conversation, partly explaining why I wish to have that conversation (request).

There you have it – the 4 steps of non-violent-communication.

What happened then: Well, by the time I was entering the superior’s office the next day I was ready to not go into the talk with demands on my mind. I simply wanted to make him see what is going on inside me and I was actually ready to listen to him, as well, and hear his reasons – or rather his feelings and needs behind it, to understand what led him to that decision.
That does not make my situation better, it does not make him withdraw his decision but it made him understand what his decision does to me and it made me understand what drove him.
I believe with all my heart that this will eventually lead into a situation where both our needs will be met – even if it is not today or tomorrow.

Comments are welcome, tell me if this helps you in any kind, if you can relate to this or if this sounds utterly strange to you – anything 🙂

Warm and heartfealt greetings

André Wolff

My first

Well, here I am.

Somehow I don’t quite know, yet, how often I will write here but my intentions are to regularly write something here.

Not just something, to be sure – I’d like to share my thoughts about and experiences with Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent-communication, about empathy, about compassionate thinking and speaking and I might write down things that I believe could be helpful. I might also write down thoughts about current issues or just simply forget the kindness for a second and spill my guts – or as I prefer to say: “be authentic”.

I could start by stating my ideas about being authentic.
I find that, especially in internet forums or blogs, being authentic is often misunderstood as being plain rude and insulting others. I believe there is a difference. Being authentic the way I understand it is, even more than usually, being connected to youself and not to what the others did or said. Being authentic might be being in pain and telling another person exactly that. “Sorry, bro’, but this hurts! I feel sad and hurt and hell, yes, I am angry!” But that it not the same as “Bro’, you hurt me! Whatever you said was bs and you’re wrong with that!”
Do you notice the difference? The first outburst is clearly made of I-messages, I am with myself at that point. I hurt. I am angry. The second outburst is you-messages. Problem being:  you-messages will probably never solve any situation and mostly won’t even make anyone feel better. They will just raise more tensions because the other side will automatically turn into “defending myself”-mode.

Now – I am not saying that I-messages will lead to immediate relief or having a beer together but at least it does not attack the other involved person and it is pure authenticity – it is what is living inside me now.

Well, that’s it for now. My first. Comments welcome 🙂