Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Two, Issue Ten: Sharing NVC With Our Elders

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.

This month's theme is Sharing NVC With Our Elders (and others too.) In the feature Peggy describes her own journey from "Doing NVC" to "Being NVC" in her relationship with her own mother.


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Monthly Empathy Circle
Starting in October

You are invited to participate in a monthly empathy circle starting in Maine in October. The intention is to gather the first Friday of each month.

The first circle will be
10am-1pm on October 7
at The Start Center, 37 Start Rd, Camden

FMI or to sign up, contact Linda:
Phone 563-6712 / email


Sharing NVC with our Elders (and others too)

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

Over the past several months, a number of people have approached me asking about teaching their elders NVC. The elders often are parents in their 80’s or 90’s that the next generation want to support in having more ease in their life.

I reflected on how, for several years, I tried to share NVC with my mother when she was in her late 70’s & early 80’s. My efforts, no matter how subtle, were not welcomed. Once when I was sharing the Feelings & Needs cards with her & her older sister, my mom commented, "Well this is just too complicated."

In hindsight I see how all my efforts were an example of the Key Differentiation of "doing NVC" vs. "being NVC." Wanting my mom to do it. After a few years I shifted to "being NVC" when I was with her. This means I stopped trying to get her interested in learning NVC and instead offered feelings and needs guesses whenever she said something that stirred a reaction in me. In NVC we call making feelings & needs guess, a Verbal Reformulation.

For example, my mom has the habit of making declarative statements instead of asking questions, and I used to find this triggering. It used to be that when she would do this I would point out to her that I would prefer it if she asked a question instead of telling me her opinions.

So in the past, my mom might say, "You visit me too often. You have your own life. This has got to change." And I would find myself feeling annoyed arising from the needs of choice and appreciation. I would point out to her that she was making statements and not checking things out with me. After a while I began to make honest expressions of my reactions – When you say _____ I feel _____ because of the needs of _____," usually followed by something like: "and I want you to ask me questions instead of making statements about me." Then my mother would go into her habit of taking information as criticism and go into a cycle of self-judgment. This didn’t get me the connection I was hoping for or any change in how she talked to me.

I hate to tell you how long it took for me to "wake up" to the reality that my mother’s thinking patterns were so strongly ingrained that my waiting for her to change was not an effective strategy. Then I remembered I had another option: Chair #4, making an empathic guess. (see this newsletter for a description of the four chairs)

Now, when my mom makes a declarative statement instead of a question I make a guess at the feelings and needs she might be trying to express. When she says, "You visit me too often. You have your own life. This has got to change." I try, "Mom when you say that - are you feeling anxious because you want assurance that I enjoy spending time with you?" She often looks amazed and replies, "Yes."

When she says, "You are cold." I ask, "Mom, are you wanting me to know you care about my well-being?" She often looks relieved and replies, "Yes."

It has been almost a year now that I have taken my triggered moments with her to express an empathic guess. Two things have happened as a result.

I suffer a lot less because the triggering doesn’t embed in me (with thoughts such as "She is so difficult" or "My life would be better if she would learn NVC/change.")

My mom has started occasionally asking questions instead of making declarative statements. She has also become more open to receiving physical affection (hand holding or short back rubs) from me. And she has requested using the feelings and needs cards when processing some issues.

My experience has shown me how important it is to "Be NVC" with those we wish would learn NVC. Remembering to guess what someone else is feeling and needing, giving them the gift of empathy in the form of a verbal reformulation. I’m guessing this is an effective strategy no matter what the age of the person we want to learn NVC.

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 for your organization or business.

Further Practice

  1. Once a day, for 7 days, take 10 minutes to use the Feelings & Needs cards about something that happened to you during the day.

  2. After a week of using F & N cards for yourself, spend another week taking 10 minutes to guess the feelings and needs of someone who triggered you during the day.

  3. Practice with an NVC friend. Each write out 10 triggering statements. Hand your list to your buddy. Take turns reading one triggering message to your buddy and have them take time to make a Verbal Reformulation. Take turns "triggering" each other and seeing how quickly you can make a meaningful Verbal Reformulation.

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Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.


Sept. thru Dec., Belfast and Falmouth, ME
Intermediate Immersion Group with Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer

Pre-requisite a minimum of 4 days of NVC training with a certified NVC trainer.
3rd Saturday of each month in Falmouth: details / pdf icon REGISTRATION
3rd Sunday of each month in Belfast: details / pdf icon REGISTRATION
9:00 – 1:00 each session
Taught by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer


Sept. 30 (evening), and Oct. 1, Portland, ME
Bridges of Connection:
Using Nonviolent Communication to Enhance Our Relationships

A Level 1 workshop with Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
details and registration


Oct. 29 & 30, Norway, ME, 9am-4pm each day

Deepening Open Communication
Sat., Oct. 29: Transforming Power Dynamics in Relationships
Sun., Oct. 30: The Art of NVC Dialogue
You may register for either or both of these days. Together they constitute a Level 2 training.
Taught by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


November 4, 5 & 6, 2011, Bangor, ME
Bridges of Connection: Using Nonviolent Communication Effectively

A Level 1 workshop with Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
Friday evening open to the general public by donation.
pdf icon details and registration


December 2, 2011, South Portland, ME
Fundraising Event for Women, Work & Community

This 1-day overview of NVC will give people an insight into the power that NVC offers.
Facilitated by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


December 10-11, 2011, Falmouth, ME
Foundations of Open Communication:
An Introduction to the Basics of Nonviolent Communication

A Level 1 workshop with Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


January 14, 2012, Falmouth, ME
Everyday Empathy

Spend a day embracing the joys of Empathy, bringing it alive for yourself.
Facilitated by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


January 20–22, 2012, Winslow, ME
Bringing Mindful Speech To Life

A residential weekend of mindfulness meditation and NVC,
facilitated by Peggy Smith and Theodate Lawlor,
NVC practitioners and lay members of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Tiep Hien Order
pdf icon details / registration: pdf icon pdf format / word document




Do you want to receive emails about upcoming NVC trainings and other NVC events in and near Maine?

Join the Maine NVC Network
Yahoo Group

The group is moderated and is only used for announcements of regional workshops and other Maine NVC Network events. Inclusion in list serve announcements does not imply endorsement by the Network.



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NVC Practice Group
Announcements & News

New NVC Study / Practice group forming
in Bar Harbor, ME, area this September

This group will be open to people wanting to learn NVC with no prior experience. For more information please contact Sandy or Burt Haggett:
207-288-0085 / email

Call for Volunteers

The health of the Network depends on the joyful efforts of all who yearn to bring nonviolent consciousness to our region.
To learn more, email our volunteer coordinator.


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