Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Four, Issue Eleven: Evolving NVC into Groups

Our newsletter appears once a month around the time of the full 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 we explore "I, You and We," – how to vitalize organizations and businesses with the concept of NEEDS, the heart of NVC. Our feature contributor is Gregg Kendrick, a CNVC certified trainer and an Associate Trainer for the NVC Training Institute.


Evolving NVC into Groups

by Gregg Kendrick, CNVC certified NVC trainer

Defining the "We" in NVC

As we expand NVC into groups, whether it is a simple group like an NVC practice group or a complex organization like a business, we expand into another conscious level of holding needs. Not only do I want to be aware of my own needs, and the needs of each person in the group, I also want to be aware of the "needs of the whole," that is, the needs that arise from our shared intention and purpose for being together as a group.

Just as there is a quality of being and connection within myself when I am able to bring my attention to my own needs; and a quality of being and connection with another person when each of us is able to hold our own needs with the needs of the other – so there is a quality of being and connection within the "We" when each of us is able to hold our own needs, the needs of each person present, and the "needs of the whole."

For example, when we meet as an NVC practice group or at an NVC training, the circle check-in provides a structure that invites my needs to be expressed and seen, as well as the needs of every other person present. In addition, there is a focal point of the circle which holds the "needs of the whole" – why are we each choosing to be present in this group in this moment? . . . what are our intentions in being together . . . is there agreement or consent among us about those intentions? These "needs of the whole" are the glue that connect us into the "We" and that contribute to each of our own needs for meaning, relevance, purpose and belonging. If left unconscious, unexpressed or superficial, then this glue is weak.

When we come together as a group, we are co-creating a new "whole." This Whole, this "We," is defined through clarity of (a) who is included in the "We," and (b) what is our shared intention and purpose¹ within this group. Further, the Whole encompasses and extends the integrity of its parts: for this Whole to hold us as human beings and not merely as objects to perform tasks, it integrally values the full range of human needs.

Thus we have the potential to create a group through NVC where each "I" and "You" is fully and authentically present, and where each of us fully values the "needs of the whole." For each person in the group, there is a movement toward awareness of:

"I am whole and I am seen as whole (. . . and so are you)." AND
"I am included in a larger whole that is meaningful to me (. . . and so are you)."
We are each fully responsible for the whole we are creating.

¹ The words "shared intention and purpose" are somewhat analogous to the "vision, mission and aim" of sociocracy. However, where sociocracy primarily focuses on the aim, I want to focus more acutely in the intentions and needs behind the aim, which would be an expanded form of the vision and mission of sociocracy.

Shared Intention and Purpose

At the deepest level I want to connect to the longing or yearning within me that inspires me to participate in and co-create this group. And I want to hear the longing and yearning of each person who is a part of this group. As we each listen to each other, I want to see if a shared intention and purpose in being together emerges. If so, then I want to construct the full statement of our shared intentions and purpose such that it moves and inspires each one of us. The exploration among the group of the subtleness of words to express the life of our shared intention leads to clarity. We want to arrive at a place where each of us is filled with "Yes!" in resonance to what is written. What is important is that (a) what inspires me is included, and (b) what is included that inspires another and not me does not hinder my commitment to our shared intention and purpose.

If a shared intention and purpose does not emerge, then likely there are differing intentions and more than one group may form as those that do share intentions and purpose coalesce together. We can celebrate the discovery of our unique shared intention and purpose while we also may mourn the loss of belonging to a larger group.

Who is included

Clarity of who is included in the group – and who decides – is paramount. In a group created through NVC, the group itself decides who joins the group and who leaves. In fact, this is an essential creative process toward fulfillment of its intention and purpose.

The people I would want included in the "We" are those (a) who are moved by the shared intention and purpose; (b) who have agreed to commit their personal presence, skills and/or resources toward its fulfillment; and (c) whose presence, skills and/or resources are necessary for its fulfillment.

Every group is not a "We"

Without clarity of the purpose and who is included – either explicitly or implicitly – then a group of people is just a group of people; there is no "We." Without a focus on a shared purpose, then our attention falls back to a focus on individual needs and interests. Without clarity of who is included, then decision making becomes arbitrary or limited within the group.

The "We" of domination

In domination hierarchies the decision-making power typically resides in a single individual, the "leader." The "We" that is created has a radically different quality than what we are co-creating through NVC. In a domination structure, loyalty to the leader is more important than loyalty to the purpose. People participating in such groups tend to be motivated extrinsically – e.g. motivated by money, by promoted status, by praise, by fear of punishment – rather than intrinsically moved by the purpose. The essential skill of leadership in such a structure is to learn how to coerce people to do what you want them to do. The human needs that matter are those of the leader or leaders.

Valuing the full range of human needs

The "needs of the whole" embrace the full range of human needs of all constituents of the group and bring them into the group consciousness that is reflected in its decisions, processes, strategies and structures. By valuing the needs of every human being along with our shared purpose we make a statement:

"We are passionate about fulfilling our shared purpose and we will find ways to fulfill it that are in alignment with the human needs of those involved or impacted."

When human needs are recognized and valued, we begin to weave a fabric of trust amidst the group. Here are some examples of human needs that tend to strengthen this fabric of trust:

Inclusion. The need to be seen and included as an integral part of the group; the need for each of us to be included in the discussions and decisions that affect us. ("No one is ignored.")

Transparency and Openness. The need to have transparency of each of our intentions, decisions and actions; the need to have open access to information, communications and meetings unless there are clearly understood and stated needs for not doing so. ("No hidden agendas. No secrets.")

Autonomy. To honor each person's need to make free choices without coercion. ("No power-over; no power-under.")

Empathy. The need of each person to be heard, to be understood; to have what matters most to oneself be seen and valued; to trust that if I express myself through blame, that others will strive to hear my feelings and needs. ("No blame.")

Authenticity and Integrity. The need to live in alignment with one's values; the need to express one’s unique self. ("No stifling of diversity.")

Mutuality. Trust that each person’s needs will be considered; trust that policies apply to everyone. ("No privileged class.")

Solidarity. The need to work toward something meaningful with others who share the same mission; shared purpose; shared reality. ("Loyalty to a shared purpose, not a person.")

Interdependence and Responsibility. The need to recognize our interdependence on one another while at the same time recognizing that we are each fully responsible for ourselves, especially our own intentions, choices, feelings, needs and actions. ("No taking responsibility for other people.")

Intrinsic needs of a group

There is yet another aspect of needs that is included in the "needs of the whole." Once we have defined the "We" through the shared yearnings that those included want to bring into the world, and we have acknowledged that we want this creation to embrace human needs so that the people involved or impacted thrive, there is still the need for this new Whole itself to thrive (i.e. to vibrantly fulfill its purpose and aim). Every group has this need in common. Some examples of these needs that all groups share are:

Holding the "Needs of the Whole"

The challenge then as we want to embrace NVC consciousness within a group or organization, is to define clearly the "needs of the whole" . . .

. . . and to hold these needs as each person in the organization makes day-to-day decisions. Shining the light on these "needs of the whole" becomes the essential skill of leadership in an organization that is moving toward NVC consciousness. And the organization will be most robust when each person included is mindful of their own needs (I), how they directly affect those around them (You) and the whole (We).

Gregg Kendrick, founder of Basileia LLC, is a CNVC Certified Trainer who has focused on "creating workplaces where people thrive" using NVC and other needs-based approaches since 2001. He has recently partnered with OD Consultant Marie Miyashiro to create IC Globally, a consulting and training network that uses NVC and the Integrated Clarity® process to support leaders and teams to humanize workplaces. Gregg lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family of five in Charlottesville, Virginia. This article was originally written in 2007 and has been abridged with permission of the author.

back to top

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.

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


back to top

We dedicate the Poetry Corner this month to Nelson Mandela. He was a great soul who dedicated his life force to the great “We.” Thank you, Mr. Mandela. Our lives are greatly enriched because of all you did.

When Great Trees Fall

Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.



Invitation to
Monthly Empathy Circle

First Friday of each month, 10am-1pm
at Open Communication office
243 High Street, Belfast, ME
You are welcome to come when you can. If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand:
Phone 322-2122 / email

back to top

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.


back to top

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.



Paid Announcements

Clarity Services, LLC
Now Accepting Clients

Helping groups of people think together collaboratively and effectively
Free 30 minute initial consultation:
1-877-833-1372 / email


Open Communication

welcomes individuals and couples who want NVC-based support to meet with them at their new office in Belfast, ME
Please contact Peggy:
207-789-5299 / email


Home  |  Newsletter Archives