Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Issue Ten: Making Requests, Part 2

Our newsletter appears once a month around the time of the new moon. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being.

The theme for this issue is MAKING REQUESTS. This theme is presented in two parts. This month’s feature will focus on ACTION REQUESTS. The theme began last month with a focus on CONNECTING REQUESTS.


a grinning child sits with 2 zucchinis and 2 cucumbers spread across his chest, nearly covering him

Making Requests: Harvesting the Fruit of Nonviolent Communication

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

In the September newsletter the feature article focused on Connecting Requests. This month we will discuss Action Requests – when we ask for what will make life more wonderful.

I wonder if you grew up with the same myth that I did – If he/she only loved me enough they would know what I want. If I have to ask that means they don’t love me.

When I think back on this belief now, I experience a tender pain, and the thought, "How silly to think others ‘knew’ what I wanted when I did not consciously know myself." I think this was a reflection of my cultural conditioning to seek approval, acceptance and love from outside myself.

Layer that with my family belief that putting someone in the position to say "No" was not appropriate. So, somewhere during my childhood I learned an unspoken family rule, "Do not ask for something unless you know the other person will say ‘Yes’".

No wonder I had such resistance (and sometimes still do) to making requests. And yet in my years of working with NVC I have found requests to be amazingly powerful, and, liberating myself from core beliefs enough to make requests has been life transforming.

Remember to set the stage for an effective Action Request by preceding it with the other steps of an NVC dialogue. Having made an Observation, expressed Feelings, connected those feelings to the Needs generating them, AND made Connecting Requests along the way so that I feel connected to the listener and they seem connected to me – now is the time for an Action Request.

There are several criteria that will increase the likelihood that the other person will say yes to a request.

Word it in the positive means, instead of asking people to stop doing something, state what you want them to do.

Be specific and make it do-able takes some time for self-reflection and careful consideration. Be sure that what you are requesting is within the means of the person. You can ask a two year old to wash the dishes, but you may not have many unbroken dishes when you are done. You can ask your sweetie for a new car, but is that do-able with their financial resources?

Being specific can take a lot of practice. Instead of asking for general wishes such as

Take time to ask for specific things that would demonstrate these wishes.

Make it measureable helps create clarity for everyone. I find it very helpful to put a time marker on requests so that everyone involved has clarity about the expectation. If I make a request, "Are you willing to call me?" and I don’t say by when, a lot of confusion can arise. I might have a reaction if within 3 days I receive no call. And yet, when I speak with the person they say they had intended to call once their current research project was completed.

Consider these 3 examples of Action Requests. Check to see which one meets the three criteria: positive, specific and do-able, measureable.

These three criteria help us craft an Action Request that is more likely to be received and fulfilled from the energy of connection. However, the real test of whether it is a request or a demand lies more in how we react internally if the other person says no. It is vital to remember to make Action Requests of ourselves. It is just as important to use the 3 criteria for internal Action Requests. I have found that as I get more skilled at making Action Requests of myself, making them of others becomes much easier.

Next month we will continue to explore Requests from an NVC perspective by contrasting them with demands.

Peggy Smith is co-founder of the Maine NVC Network and founder/principal trainer with Open Communication
Contact Open Communication for a presentation on NVC or Restorative Circles for your organization or business.

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Suggestions for Practice:

  1. Take a workshop specifically focused on Requests, such as the Making Requests: Harvesting the Fruit of Nonviolent Communication, November 20 in Belfast, ME. detailspdf icon

  2. For a week, at least once a day, take time to consider the three criteria discussed in the feature article when composing a request

  3. Work with an NVC buddy or Practice Group on requests. Each share a request you are considering making and get feedback about how each expresses the three criteria.

  4. For one week, invite yourself each day to practice making a self directed Action Request following the 3 criteria.



~ Poetry Corner ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So Much Happiness

Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched record. . .

 Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

Monarch butterfly with wings fully spread, resting on a milkweed plant

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Crossword Puzzle

This is a fully interactive online puzzle; we aim to have a new one each month, relating to the issue's theme.


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Celebration Corner

Having received so much from the NVC classes, it is difficult to put it into words. It gave me a new appreciation for the way of not only communicating, but AA (Attitude Adjustment). It has helped in ways of relating to others; and even more importantly; to myself. It is life changing and if Congress shut down for a few days and took this course our country would be much better off.
- Dick McKusic, Rockland

Dear Readers, We love to share how our readership has used NVC to contribute to the fabric of their lives. We believe that the Celebrations Corner contributes to the needs of community, learning, to being heard, gratitude and celebration. We would greatly appreciate receiving from you an NVC celebration for inclusion in a future issue.
- the newsletter team

purple asters

Upcoming Trainings

Oct. 30-31, Falmouth, ME
Foundations of Open Communication,
an introduction to the basics of NVC

with Peggy Smith, certified trainer

This dynamic, interactive, two day workshop explores the elements of NVC thinking and dialogue. Early Registration discount if your registration pdf icon is received by October 15!

Nov. 17-20, Charlotte, VT
BePeace Foundation

For those working with children & youth, a program that combines NVC with Heartmath. This powerfully effective program was developed in Costa Rica and is now being shared in North America. Presented by the Rasur Foundation International and locally sponsored by The National Peace Academy. FMI
Early Registration discount if you register by Oct. 17!

November 20, Belfast, ME
Harvesting the Fruit of NVC

with Peggy Smith, certified trainer

A day to hone skills in the fourth step of NVC thinking & dialogue, making Requests. This interactive day will explore both Connecting and Action Requests.

Early Registration discount if your registration pdf icon is received by November 3!

Dec. 4 - 6, Bar Harbor, ME
Living Compassion: Building Practices & Processes

This event is fully enrolled - a waiting list is available.

An Intermediate level workshop with Robert Gonzales

These processes, which Robert has developed over time, serve to deepen self-awareness, self-compassion and living compassion in relationships. pdf icon details


The fourth session of the
Maine NVC Integration Program
is now accepting registrations!

Opening My Heart - Opening Communication
April to November 2011
An Intermediate/Advanced NVC Experience
9 Months of Deepening NVC Consciousness
17 Days of Workshop
With Gina Cenciose & Peggy Smith, certified trainers

pdf icon FMI & registration



Oct. 30-31, Meadow Wind Center for the Healing Arts, Falmouth, ME
Foundations of Open Communication: an introduction to the basics of NVC
with Peggy Smith, certified trainer and principal writer for this newsletter

Would you like to deal with conflict more skillfully? Be sensitive to others without giving up your own needs? Deepen connection and have more ease within relationships? You will leave this workshop with practical concepts and skills you can put to immediate use. Whether you want to improve your relationship with yourself, your family, co-workers or community, your participation in this workshop will open new doors and expand your options.

pdf icon details and registration

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