Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Two, Issue Nine: Gratitude

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 Gratitude. In the feature we explore why it is important to include appreciations & gratitudes into our NVC expressions, and simple frames for nurturing these expressions.



Remembering Gratitude

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

When we learn Nonviolent Communication our focus is usually on our "ouchie" situations that we wish were different than they are. We come to experience that the four-step framework of NVC Observation, Feeling, Need, Request becomes an effective model for thinking about and expressing our thoughts about these "ouchies."

I noticed if I only used NVC to think about "problems," my own nervous system began associating NVC with problems and distress. As a result, when I would choose to look at a situation from an NVC lens my body would sometimes start feeling some low level of anxiety.

When I used NVC in conversations with others only when there was an "ouchie" situation to address, others in my life began to associate NVC with conflict or differences of opinions. This did not endear NVC to them. In fact, it sometimes seemed to create an aversion to NVC.

It is just as useful and important to use the OFNR framework to think and express celebrations and gratitude. By exploring all situations, whether I consider them challenging or positive or neutral, with the OFNR framework, my internal emotional state (as well as the state of others) is directly affected.

It is inspiring for me to periodically re-read Marshall Rosenberg’s (NVC founder) own words. The following excerpt comes from Speaking Peace In A World Of Conflict, (used with permission of the publisher, pages 166-168) and addresses this month’s theme of using NVC to express gratitude.

"In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy." - Albert Clarke

How do we express gratitude in NVC? First, the intent is all-important: to celebrate life, nothing else. We’re not trying to reward the other person. We want the other person to know how our life has been enriched by what they did. That’s our only intent. To make clear how our life has been enriched, we need to say three things to people, and praise and compliments don’t make these three things clear:

  • First, we want to make clear what the person did that we want to celebrate, what action on their part enriched our lives.
  • Second, we want to tell them how we feel about that, what feelings are alive in us as a result of what they’ve done.
  • Third, we want to tell them what needs of ours were met by their actions.

I hadn’t made this clear to a group of teachers I was dealing with. We ran out of time …. After the meeting one of the teachers ran up to me, and here’s how she expressed her gratitude to me. Her eyes were shining, and she said, "You’re brilliant."

I said to her, "That doesn’t help."

She said, "What!"

I said, "Telling me what I am doesn’t help. I have been called a lot of names in my life. Some positive and some far from positive, and I can’t ever recall learning anything of value by somebody telling me what I am. I don’t think anybody does. I think there’s zero information value in being told what you are. But from the look in your eyes, I can see you want to express gratitude."

Looking a bit bewildered, she said,"Yes."

"And I want to receive it. But telling me what I am doesn’t give it to me."

"Well," she said, "what do you want me to say?"

I said, "Remember what I said in the workshop …? I need to hear three things. First of all, what did I do that made life more wonderful for you?"

She thought for a moment and said, "You’re so intelligent."

"No," I said, "that’s still a diagnosis of me. It doesn’t really tell me what I did. I’d get more out of your feedback if I knew concretely what I did that really in some way enriched your life."

"Oh," she said, "I got you. I think I understand." She opened up her notebook and she pointed to two things she wrote there that had big stars by them. She said, "You said these two things."

I looked in her notebook. "Yes, that helps, just knowing that I in some way enriched your life. Second," I continued, "it would help me to know how you feel right now."

"Oh Marshall, I feel so relieved and hopeful."

"Ok. And now third, what need of yours was met by those two things?"

"Marshall, I’ve never been able to connect with my eighteen-year-old son. All we do is fight. I needed some concrete direction for connecting with him. These two things you said met that need of mine for some concrete direction."

I said, "Thank you for sticking with me and helping me see how I have contributed to you. It is so much more satisfying for me to know concretely what I did."

You can see, I’m sure, how different it was to hear those three things than to hear somebody tell me what I was. That’s how we express gratitude in Nonviolent Communication.

At first others may seem surprised by an expression that includes Observations, Feeling and Needs rather an evaluative praise. My experience is that after the initial surprise, a delight often arises. People enjoy hearing appreciations that are not linked to evaluations of who they are.


Further Practice

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.

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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. 9-10, South Portland, ME
Bridges of Connection: Using Nonviolent Communication to Enhance Our Efforts

Taught by Peggy Smith & Karen Groat
This Level One workshop will be focused for mediators, lawyers, social workers and school personnel.
details / pdf icon REGISTRATION

September 9 (evening), 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

Talk at the Common Ground Country Fair
"Thinking Nonviolently - Building a Future"

by Peggy Smith, representing the Maine NVC Network at the Social Political Action Speaker's Tent
Two opportunities to hear the talk:
Friday, September 23, at 1pm & Saturday, September 24, at 5 pm

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


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Poetry Corner

Langston Hughes

From Christ to Ghandi
Appears this truth-
St. Francis of Assisi
Proves it, too:
Goodness becomes grandeur
Surpassing might of kings.
Halos of kindness
Brighter shine
Than crowns of gold,
And brighter
Than rich diamonds
The simple dew
Of love.



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.


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


a black butterfly with wings partially open, looking like the shape of a heart, on a background of grass and clover

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

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:
207-288-0085 / email

Drop by and visit the Network booths at

  • Common Ground Fair, Social Action Area Sept. 23–25, Unity, ME

Outreach Committee Request

The Outreach Committee of the Maine NVC Network is looking for a few people with interest and expertise in getting the message and work of NVC onto the radar of more of the citizens of Maine. We are looking for more presence for NVC in all sorts of media, and through personal contacts in professional organization, in each county of the State. We would love to hear from you! If you are willing to serve as a valued consultant, join the committee or have questions, please email us.


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