Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Four, Issue Nine: Connecting Feelings to Needs

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.


Connecting Feelings to Needs2 small children play in orange and yellow fall maple leaves. the taller child reaches to grasp a leaf while the smaller one has her hand on his back.

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

"I never knew there was something good in me."

"Wow, it’s a new idea to see that behind everything I do there are human needs!"

These are a few of the comments shared in the closing round of a recent NVC class at the Maine Coastal Regional Re-entry Center. For three years, a ten-session NVC class has been part of the core curriculum offered to the residents at the Re-entry Center in Belfast, ME.

I have endeavored to design an introductory class that is relevant and engaging for the men who are moving through the Center. These are people who are nearing the end of a jail or prison sentence. They spend from 6 weeks to 10 months at the Center engaged in a variety of learning and work opportunities. The idea is that they will return to their communities with more skills to contribute than when they left.

It is interesting to be teaching a process that is all about choice – choosing to focus on Feelings and Needs and choosing to hold authentic connection as a high priority – when they are required by the Center to participate. I think its important to acknowledge this and to remind the participants that everything I ask of them is an opportunity for choice – and that I’m open to hearing "no."

Last winter I decided to record the curriculum that I had developed for the Center. It has taken much more time than I imagined capturing the nuances of an alive process. What I thought would take about three weeks now has a completion goal of February, 2014, making it a one year project.

One of the many things I have enjoyed about my weekly two hours at the Center is the invitation to bring NVC alive in new ways. One activity that comes out of this work, and now is a basis for sharing NVC with any newcomer, is an activity I call "Sometime I Did Something Nice for Another." I wanted to have a simple exercise through which we can all discover the relationship between feelings and needs, while at the same time not stimulate the pain of remembering unpleasant experiences. I think one of the challenges of learning NVC is that we often reserve it for working with unpleasant experiences.

I imagined that it might be easier to touch the relationship of feelings to needs if we explored a pleasant memory. After all, if the feelings that I experience are needs speaking to me, than that is just as true for pleasant feelings as unpleasant ones.

I have so enjoyed the effectiveness of this activity that I now use it in most of my NVC introductions – perhaps you would want to try it yourself. Whether you are new to NVC or have been practicing a long time, take a few minutes to try it.

(You may want to use Feelings and Needs Cards to help you with this exercise. These can be downloaded for free here.)

Connecting Feelings to Universal Human NEEDS
Sometime I did something nice for another person


(What I did: the facts)______________________________________________________


Thinking about that now,


I feel . . . (Make a list of feelings)

because of the needs of . . . (Put the corresponding need across from each feeling)


This is an example of chair (1,2,3 or 4) thinking. (Go here for an explanation of the 4 chairs, representing four possible ways in which we can receive the messages life delivers.)

From the other person’s point of view

Observation: same as above



How do I guess the other person might have felt, coming from what needs?


Their possible feelings . . . (Make a list of feelings)

because of the needs of . . . (Put the corresponding need across from each feeling)


This is an example of chair (1,2,3 or 4) thinking.
What learning did I get from doing this exercise?

If you have taken the time to try this, please let me know what you think of the experience. How much prior NVC training have you had? Did this exercise provide you with any new insights? I am eager to hear from you: email

Further Practice

  1. Twice a week for the next 4 weeks express a gratitude to yourself by tracking something nice you do for someone else and connect your feelings and needs to that event.
  2. Twice a week for the next 4 weeks express your appreciation to someone who has done something nice for you – let them know how you feel and what needs were nourished in you. Be aware of the array of people who do nice things for you, perhaps without you noticing: the person who delivers your mail; the cashier at the store; or clerk at the Post Office; a neighbor who smiles and waves as you drive by; start to notice . . . what do you discover?

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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.

Oct. 25-27, South Portland
From Conflict To Connection: the Fundamentals of Nonviolent Communication

Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


Dec. 7-8, Unity, ME
Level 1: From Conflict to Connection: the Fundamentals of NVC

Fundraiser for MOFGA El-Salvador Sistering Committee
and two environmental projects in the West Bank, Palestine
Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


February 21-23, 2014, Nobleboro, ME
Bringing Mindful Speech To Life

Third annual weekend of mindfulness with Peggy Smith and Theodate Lawlor,
Members of Thich Nhat Hanh's Tiep Hien Order
pdf icon details


March 22-23, 2014, Belfast, ME
From Conflict to Connection: the basics of Nonviolent Communication

A fundraiser for WERU Community Radio
Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration



Invitation to
Monthly Empathy Circle

First Friday of each month, 10am-1pm
at The Start Center, 37 Start Rd, Camden
You are welcome to come when you can. If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand:
Phone 322-2122 / email


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.


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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Common Ground Fair 2013:
Report on NVC Presentations
by Peggy Smith

The 37th Common Ground Fair, a celebration of rural living put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener’s Association (MOFGA), ran September 20–22, 2013. This was the ninth year that the Maine NVC Network had an informational booth at the fair.

Over a three-day weekend over 50,000 people attended the fair. While only a small fraction of them stopped by the NVC booth, many valuable connections were made. Some people make it a habit to stop by annually and renew their connection to NVC. Others hear about it for the first time and get excited about how NVC can contribute to their life, in both personal and professional ways.

This year Leah Boyd and I co-created and delivered three talks in the Political & Social Action Tent. It was an honor to be given three speaking times by the area coordinators. We titled our talks, "Thinking Collaboratively."

We demonstrated how NVC helps us reframe our reactions to conflict by shifting from blame and judgment to self-connecting through authentic feelings and needs and building curiosity toward the other’s feelings and needs. We guided the group in a discovery of what universal human needs are. Then we explained the six universal organizational needs as conceptualized by consultant Marie Miyashiro in the book, The Empathy Factor – Your Competitive Advantage for Personal, Team, and Business Success; and how the effectiveness of any group of people is an inter-play between the universal human needs and the universal organizational needs.

The talks were warmly received. Many people felt excited by this way of framing the interactions in personal relationships and working groups. If you are interested in more information or a presentation for your business or organization, connect with us through Clarity Services, LLC

If you make it to next year’s fair, please stop by the Maine NVC Network booth. 2014 will be our tenth year hosting a booth at the fair.

orange and yellow fall maple leaves glowing in sun

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