Section 9, Topic 3
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Things we do that block compassion

Ravi Resck 27 de January de 2023
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To understand CNV in its entirety, it is important to look at the components that inhibit the state of compassion within a relationship. Marshall did an excellent job of mapping the inhibitory patterns of this compassionate state. It is something he calls “alienating communication from life”.

Certain forms of communication alienate us from our natural compassionate state.

Marshall Rosenberg

Moralizing Judgments

It is important to know how to assess our daily situations. The ability toto judgeit can protect us from situations that put us in danger and help us to assess whether we are following the right path.

The problem is that when we associate this ability to judge with “moral” analyzes of people, we are putting them in boxes and making them reduced to a short-sighted moral perspective.

These judgments appear in phrases like:

"You are a lazy one!" , “You prejudiced person”, “This is completely inappropriate!” and so on ...

In the world of judgment, what matters to us is WHO "IS" WHAT.

Marshall Rosenberg

It is easy to identify this type of judgment in our daily lives.

I remember a recent experience I had in a workshop where I was not comfortable with the organization of the event and I immediately started to complain in a totally moralizing way: “What a mediocre organization. These people are really hindered ”.

The problem is that when we communicate like this we are thinking in terms of what is wrong with others to behave in that way.

Our attention is focused on assessing and determining levels of error and not on the personal needs and values that are not being met either on our side as on that of other people.

Analyzing others is, in reality, an expression of our needs and values.

Marshall Rosenberg

Rosenberg highlights the importance of knowing how to distinguishvalue judgmentinmoralizing judgments.

We all make value judgments about the things we admire in life. For example, we can value integrity, transparency, freedom or peace.

On the other hand, we make moralizing judgments about people and behaviors that are not in accordance with our value judgments. For example: “Corruption is unacceptable”, “Violence is bad” and so on.

As we did not learn from an early age to express our needs and values, we started to communicate in a violent and tragic way about the things that bother us.

As we expand our emotional vocabulary, we can start to express things like “I am bothered by corruption because it compromises transparency between the state and the population. I value the integrity and transparency of people in positions of power. "

Classifying and judging people encourages violence.

Marshall Rosenberg

Making Comparisons

Another possible way to disconnect from compassion when communicating is to use comparisons.

This has become a very common act among people who become professionals in reducing their self-esteem.

Dan Greenberg wrote a book called “How to make yoruself miserable” where he presents powerful exercises that make us reflect on how the idea of comparing ourselves with someone can make us feel mediocre and miserable.

One of the classic examples is that of Mozart, the composer. He lists the number of musical pieces and languages that Mozart spoke when he was still a teenager. It is not very difficult to feel stupid when comparing yourself to someone like him.

Far beyond self-sabotaging, comparisons also function as a highly violent tool to make others feel miserable.


Another resource that underlies the practices that disconnect us from authentic communication is the denial of responsibility.

We prefer to attribute responsibility for our actions to other people, the environment, objects ... Anything other than ourselves.

We say that “it has to be like this”, “there is no other way”, “it was what I could do” and other variations.

Another classic is the famous “You make me feel like this and roasted”.

Here is a short list taken directly from Rosenberg's book that shows that we are exempting ourselves from our responsibilities when we attribute it to:

  • Vague and impersonal forces(I cleaned my room because I had to do it)
  • Our condition, diagnosis, personal or psychological history(I drink because I'm an alcoholic)
  • Actions of others(I hit my son because he ran out into the street)
  • Orders from authorities(I lied to the client because the boss told me to do this)
  • Group pressure(I started smoking because all my friends smoked)
  • Institutional policies, rules and regulations(I have to suspend you for this infraction; it's school policy)
  • Roles determined by gender, age and social position(I hate to go to work, but I go because I'm a family man)
  • Uncontrollable impulses(I was overcome with a desire to eat that candy)

Our language obscures the awareness of personal responsibility.

Marshall Rosenberg

Denying our responsibility for what we feel and need to do is a very dangerous act. That is how great atrocities have been justified over time. Environmental catastrophes, holocausts, domestic violence, the list is very long.

The approach proposed by Rosenberg here is to change our communication so that we can actually take responsibility when we communicate our actions.

For example, if we have the sentence quoted above, “I have to suspend you for this infraction; It's school policy ”we can turn it into“ I have to suspend you because I want to keep my job ”.

It is possible that when a person starts to communicate like this, he may find it horrible because it makes us feel responsible for what we do.
If this is the case, great! This is exactly the purpose of this exercise.

Some Reminders

Of course, there are still many other facets of communication that disconnect us from a more authentic way of transmitting our ideas.

A very present habit in a society that forgot to make room for compassion is that ofcommunicate our desires as demands.

This is simply fruitless becausewe never managed to force people to do anything.

When we are in a position of authority, whether as parents, bosses, teachers or whatever ... Remember that there is another way to communicate our wishes in a way that we take responsibility for them. Separate your personal needs from your requirements.

Another issue deeply rooted in our society is the idea that someone deserves to be punished for what they did. When we give strength to this type of thinking, we affirm the idea that so-and-so acted badly because he behaved in such a way and therefore deserves punishment.

Thinking based on “who deserves what” blocks compassionate communication.

Marshall Rosenberg

At this point, we can already see that the roots of the alienation of inclusive and compassionate communication stem from not only the disconnection of human beings from a place of compassion but from an entire philosophical and political system that preaches ideas about who deserves what, what it is right and wrong and who should obey whom.

Relearning to express our feelings and needs is a revolutionary act within a society that values moralizing judgments so much.