Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Two, Issue Seven: NVC Mediation

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 NVC Mediation. Both the feature article and the book review focus on how NVC can help reframe conflict from an experience that harms relationships to one where connections can become deeper. We invite you to send in your experiences of how NVC has helped shift conflict in your life. (email)



NVC Mediation

by Mary Zabriskie

I first encountered NVC mediation in a teleclass offered through the NVC Academy, taught by John Kinyon. That was followed by another teleclass and the year long East Coast Mediation Immersion program taught by John and Ike Lasater.

NVC mediation is based on giving empathy and on making connections, first between the mediator and each of the parties separately, then between the parties themselves. There are other forms of mediation that are also based on empathy and making connections, but in my experience NVC mediation is unique in several ways:

It is interesting to note also that NVC mediation arises out of some of the beliefs and intentions that underlie NVC, such as:

As a mediator my primary goal is to connect with each party and to create connection between the two of them. I will do my best to meet with each party separately prior to the formal mediation. During these meetings I hope to give both parties enough empathy so that they can begin to consider what needs might be motivating the behavior of the other. When the mediation gets under way, I give a very brief introduction and ask who would like to start. This offers the participants choice right off the bat. Usually one party volunteers to start and it is OK with the other. However if it is not OK with the other, the process begins with mediating that conflict. One or two needs that are likely to show up are to be understood and to trust that one’s own point of view will be given as much weight as the other’s. Most of the time when those needs have been addressed, one of them will begin and the other is OK with it.

As soon as the first person begins to speak, the intention is to give empathy. At first it is in the form of silent listening and being present. Next it is in the form of translating judgments and strategies into feelings and needs. My goal here is to reflect back to each of them what I have heard them say by paraphrasing or even repeating their own words in order to let them know that they have been heard. This can take awhile. After that my goal is to boil down what I have understood into one or two needs or values and check with the parties that I have captured what they meant.

2 pine trees against a background of storm cloudsFor ease in the following example, I am saying that both parties are men. Let's say that Party A is furious at Party B for falsely advertising the soundness of a boat he bought from B. After some time A might say that he feels he was deceived. I could translate that implied judgment by saying, "When you say you feel deceived, would it be fair to say that you feel angry because truth in advertising is important to you?" Then I might follow up with a question asking if truth, or perhaps trust, captures his meaning. Let’s say he responds that yes, truth captures it. Here I might add, "So truth is really important to you?" and remain silent. I want to let that thought sink in.

He might well go deeper with it and perhaps come up with, "Well, I guess it’s really integrity that’s most important." I might nod and quietly repeat, "integrity." Then we might all remain silent for another minute. This would signal the end of the first step.

The purpose of the second step is to begin connecting the two with each other. The underlying principle is that if a person feels heard by another, connection is apt to begin - though maybe very slowly. The mediator will make a connection request. In the example I might say to B that I have heard A say that integrity is important to him and ask him if he is willing to repeat back or reflect that he heard A say that. But wait, suppose B were to balk at saying that. I would want to say something like, "I am not asking you to agree with A, just to repeat back what he said so that he will know that he has been heard, and then it will be your turn to speak and be heard.

These are the basics of steps one and two, giving empathy and making connection requests. Steps three and four repeat the steps going the other way. I like to describe these steps as resembling a tennis game with the ball going back and forth over and over.

Of course many other things happen. B could continue to refuse to repeat back what was important to A. He might begin to rant about times A cheated and falsely advertised in his used car business. Help! What do I do now??? Most likely I will interrupt him (as in NVC, interrupting intentionally and courteously is a useful skill), then tell him that what he is saying is important and I want to hear it. Next I probably would express my own need to support both of them and repeat my request.

It could look like this: "Excuse me B, excuse me, I can see that you feel strongly about what you are saying. It’s important too and I’m looking forward to hearing it. And since my goal is to support both of you in being heard in the way you want to be heard, I’m going to ask again if you will say that you heard A say that integrity really matters to him. Would you be willing to do that and then continue with what you were saying?"

If that doesn’t work and B goes off again about A’s cheating etc, I would interrupt again. But this time my guess is that B is in enough pain that he is unable to be present and focus on what’s going on and that he needs "emergency first aid" empathy in order to come back. I would want to acknowledge his anger and follow up with something like, "It sounds like honesty is an important value for you, would you agree?"

sunbeams shining on a calm lakeIt will take many rounds of going back and forth for A and B to see that they have some needs in common, that they might even like each other or be curious about why the other feels the way he does. Hopefully they will get to a place where they begin asking each other questions or making requests. A might ask B if he’ll take the boat back. B might say, "Hell no," and we would go back to giving empathy and making connecting requests.

Or A might ask B if he’d be more truthful in his future advertising. Here we would have an opportunity to teach about the art of making clear, present and do-able requests. A might then ask B if he’d come over day after tomorrow and help make the repairs the boat needs, and pay for the materials. I might interject and ask A, "if B were to agree to doing that, would you feel confident that he was being considerate of what’s important to you?"

He might say, "Yes, but more importantly, I would feel like I was getting my money’s worth."

I could translate again: "Are you saying you value a fair exchange and this would do it?" If he agreed and if B were to agree to the request or perhaps ask A to divide the cost of the materials and A agreed, we would be home free.

I hope this article was useful to you in understanding NVC mediation and that with this understanding you might consider using it for working with conflict in your own life, conflict with another or conflict between different voices within yourself.

I just want to add that it is incredibly enlivening, as a practitioner, to contribute to this process as it works its magic.

Mary Zabriskie completed the Woodbury College Mediation Certificate Program in Montpelier, VT, in 2003, and has recently completed the year long East Coast NVC mediation program. She lives and practices in Putney, VT, and is open for doing conflict coaching with individuals or mediation between people by telephone or Skype. Contact her through this email.

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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.

August 8–12, Hutchinson Center, Belfast, ME
PAX 495: Sustainable Communication

NVC 3 credit course in UMaine Peace Studies Dept.
Advanced Topics in Peace & Reconciliation
Combined NVC level 1 & 2 with full 3 credits

Do you know of students home in Maine for the summer who would enjoy getting 3 credits for a week long course in NVC? Do you know of educators, counselors, social workers or health care professionals looking for credits for recertification? Please let them know about this opportunity.

Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

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
3rd Sunday of each month in Belfast
9:00 – 1:00 each session
FMI: Peggy 207-789-5299

Sept. 9-10, South Portland, ME
Building Bridges of Communication: the theory & practice of Nonviolent Communication

This workshop will be focused for mediators, lawyers, social workers and school personnel.
FMI: Peggy 207-789-5299


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Book Review:
A Helping Hand: Mediation With Nonviolent Communication
by Liv Larsson

reviewed by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

This very useful book has recently been translated into English from Swedish.

Ms. Larsson has mediated and taught NVC for many years. She has worked with people in personal disputes and in conflict torn countries. This practical handbook has sections on the theory of NVC and mediation as well as self-paced learning activities for mediators to incorporate NVC into their existing practice. She believes with enough practice many people can become effective mediators and she includes study plans to support people’s journey.

The book begins with an overview of mediation (chapters 1-2). Concepts about human nature, and views about conflict and justice are discussed.

Chapters 3 & 4 contain reflections on passivity, revenge, forgiveness, shame and guilt.

The next two chapters outline how NVC can be used in mediation. Chapter 6 is named The Mediator’s Tool Box. It includes practical lessons on six basic mediation skills:

  • Listening and translating
  • Helping the parties to reflect back what they have heard
  • Interrupting
  • Emergency First Aid Empathy
  • Self-Empathy and Honest Expression
  • Tracking

In order to mediate, most of us benefit from practice, so Chapter 7 contains a wealth of exercises to develop various tools that are beneficial to a mediator.

Chapter 8 covers the preparation and carrying out of formal mediation based on this direct, needs-based style.

Chapter 9 presents variations of this direct style to adjust to settings and cultures.

Chapter 10 focuses on mediation between children.

I highly recommend this book to

  • mediators who want to add NVC to their toolbox
  • parents, teachers and counselors who want support in mediating between children
  • NVC practitioners who want to develop their skills as a third-sider in helping their community work through conflicts in a connecting way.

In my opinion it is well written and full of useful exercises – a valuable part of an NVC library.


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

Join the Maine NVC Network
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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.


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.

Upcoming Opportunities

Brunswick Peace Fair
August 6, Brunswick, ME

This fun family event is a great way for the Network to expand awareness in this region. Volunteer for a 2 hour shift at our booth, hand out information about upcoming workshops and answer questions about NVC. If you are willing to volunteer for this fair,
please email by July 20.

MOFGA Common Ground Fair
September 23-25, Unity, ME

Enjoy three hours of life-serving presence at the Nonviolent Communication booth and receive one day free admission to MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair. As a volunteer at the Maine NVC Network booth you will connect with fair goers, hand out information about upcoming workshops and answer questions about NVC. The rest of the day is yours to delight in the fair. Slots fill up on a first-come basis. The booth has three tickets for each day.
Email to volunteer

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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: 288-0085 / email

Drop by and visit the Network booths at

  • Brunswick Peace Fair August 6, Brunswick, ME
  • Common Ground Fair, Social Action Area Sept. 23–25, Unity, ME
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