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

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Our newsletter appears approximately once a month. 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. Email: newsletter at

This month, guest contributor Leah Boyd explores the every-day experience of receiving feedback, and its inverse, giving feedback.



by Leah Boyd

"We learn best when we can see the effect we have on others and the environment
without shame or blame."
– Miki Kashtan

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, one definition of feedback is, "helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance, product, etc."

I have a love/hate relationship with feedback. The idea of helpful information sounds good in theory. I would like to have information about how my words and deeds affect others and the larger whole and I would also like to be able to share with others how their words and deeds affect me. However, just hearing the word "criticism" can send me in the other direction fast.

We all long to belong, to contribute and to matter. We also yearn for growth, learning and effectiveness. And because we all have blind spots regarding our own behavior, we rely upon each other for helpful information about our impact. From the perspective of Nonviolent Communication, we are interested in communicating in a way that enhances connection and contributes to life.

Unfortunately, most of us have not experienced nor witnessed a lot of skillfully delivered feedback and therefore we may cringe when someone asks, "Can I offer you some feedback?" We may hear this as, "Can I tell you my judgments of you?"

According to the authors of the book, Thanks for the Feedback, feedback comes in three categories:

Since we have not been taught to distinguish between these types of feedback, we rarely communicate to each other what type of feedback we are hoping for. For instance, if I’m longing for appreciation and I receive evaluation, I am not likely to enjoy the feedback I receive. In fact, I probably won’t be able to take it in at all.

When we’re clear about what type of feedback we want, and we request it, we are much more likely to receive information that’s useful to us. Likewise, when someone else asks us to provide feedback, we can ask what type of feedback the person is looking for and respond accordingly.

Another interesting aspect of feedback is that certain conditions can actually block our ability to receive feedback. Examining our relationship to feedback can be a deep practice. According to Thanks for the Feedback, there are three triggers that impact our ability to take in certain feedback. I will refer to them here as the Blocks to Feedback:

When we are aware of our blocks, and clear about the type of feedback we want to give or receive, we can use the principles of Nonviolent Communication to become more skillful with feedback. So how do we create this "environment without shame or blame" that Miki Kashtan refers to?

We can become very intentional when we prepare to deliver feedback. In the privacy of our own mind we can be sure to consider the following important questions:

  • What type of feedback am I interested in conveying: Appreciation, Coaching or Evaluation?
  • What specific action do I want to give feedback about? (Observation)
  • What feelings are stimulated in me in response to what this person did or said? (Feelings)
  • What needs are nurtured or not with regard to what this person did or said? (Needs)
  • What’s my request – What do I want from them? Do I want a different action in the future, or do I just want to understand why they chose this action? Do I want to know how they heard my feedback, or how it’s impacting them to hear it? (Requests)

Once we have done this personal preparation and are clear about our intention, we can offer our feedback in a way that is sincere and in alignment with our values.

And what about those times when we receive unskillful feedback? Of course, we cannot guarantee that others will be skillful in their delivery of feedback to us or that what they are offering will actually have value for us. We always retain choice regarding the importance we assign to the feedback we receive. In those times when we receive triggering feedback, we can offer ourselves care by requesting empathy from another or engaging in self-empathy practices. As we improve our ability to mine whatever feedback we get for tidbits of useful information, we will be able to ask the questions above of the person delivering the feedback. Finding out specifically, what action they are referring to, how it’s impacting them and what they would like from us, can open the potential for even the most unskillful and perhaps totally unsolicited feedback to become useful to us.

Being gentle with ourselves and with each other around feedback doesn’t mean we have to avoid talking about how we impact one another or how we "measure up." Rather, it means learning to give and receive this important information intentionally and in a way that recognizes that all needs matter and that everyone is doing the best they know in the moment. Can we each do better in certain areas of our life? Of course. Can we learn to help each other see our respective blind spots in a way that is experienced as supportive and honors the dignity of both giver and receiver? I’m counting on it!

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Receiving Feedback

  1. Think of a time you received feedback that you didn’t enjoy and write a few sentences to capture the essence of what happened.
  2. Explore this feedback by considering the following questions:
    • What type of feedback were you open to receiving: appreciation, coaching,evaluation, or none at all?
    • What needs were stimulated in you when you received the feedback?
    • What type of feedback do you imagine the other wanted to convey in that moment: appreciation, coaching, evaluation
    • What needs do you imagine the other person was hoping to nurture in providing this feedback?
    • Was there a block involved and if so was it: truth, relationship or identity?
  3. If the feedback was triggering, have you received sufficient empathy to recover? Is there any request you would like to make, of yourself or another, to support yourself further?
  4. If the feedback was just not the type you were looking for, can you imagine a way you could ask specifically for the kind of feedback you longed for in this situation, if any?

Delivering Feedback

  1. Think of a time you delivered feedback and it didn’t go in a way you enjoyed. Write a few sentences to capture the essence of what happened.
  2. Explore this feedback by considering the following questions:
    • What type of feedback were you hoping to convey: appreciation, coaching or evaluation?
    • What needs were you longing to nurture in giving the feedback?
    • What type of feedback do you imagine the other wanted in that moment: appreciation, coaching, evaluation, none at all?
    • What needs do you imagine were stirred in the other person when they received your feedback?
    • Is it possible the receiver experienced a block? truth, relationship or identity?
  3. If this experience was triggering, have you received sufficient empathy to recover? Is there any request you would like to make, of yourself or another, to support yourself further?
  4. If you had the opportunity to re-do this feedback event, would you do anything differently now?

Leah Boyd is co-teacher of the Maine NVC Integration Program. She wishes to express gratitude to the following in developing this article and exercises: Miki Kashtan, CNVC trainer, Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen, authors of the book, Thanks for the Feedback, and Bob Marshall, author of the article, How to Give Feedback.

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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.

Feb 25, Mar 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31, Turner, ME 
Clear & Compassionate Communication Level 1

Six evening sessions taught by Leah Boyd
FMI / registration: 207.225.3270 / MSAD 52 Adult Ed


February 26- 28, Nobleboro, ME
Bringing Mindful Speech to Life

With Peggy Smith & Theodate Lawlor
A weekend of exploring Mindfulness, meditation and Nonviolent Communication
details and registration


February 26-28, Norway, ME
Clear & Compassionate Communication Level 1

  taught by Leah Boyd
Registration:  1-877-833-1372 / Peaceful Purpose


April 2-3, Bangor, ME
From Conflict to Connection, Level 1

Taught by Peggy Smith
This is a fundraiser for WERU Community Radio
details and registration


April 4 & 5, Rockland, ME
NVC will be featured in the Keynote and break-out sessions
at the Maine Counseling Association annual conference
at the Samoset Conference Center


April 28, May 5, 12, 19, Turner, ME
Clear & Compassionate Communication, Level 2

Four evening sessions, taught by Leah Boyd
FMI / registration: 207.225.3270 / MSAD 52 Adult Ed


May 23-27, Orono, ME
PAX 470: Sustainable Communication:
the theory & practice of Nonviolent Communication

3 credit University course; can also be taken for graduate credits.
Flyer, with registration info / Syllabus


Registration is now open for the 2016-17 Maine NVC Integration Program
FMI, with link to registration form

Special Offers for registrants in the next NVC Integration Program:

  1. The first six people to register will receive 1 FREE hour of NVC coaching/empathy from a trainer.
  2. Everyone who registers before June 1 is eligible for 2 FREE hours of NVC coaching/empathy from a trainer.

These two offers can be combined to earn 3 FREE hours of NVC coaching.

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Poetry Corner:

Dear Human,
(You’ve got it all wrong.) You DIDN'T come here to master unconditional love. . . That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love, Whole love - infused with Divinity lived through the grace of stumbling, demonstrated through the beauty of messing up. . . Often. You DIDN'T come here to be perfect. (You Already are!) You came here to be gorgeously HUMAN , flawed and fabulous. Then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love in truth, doesn’t need any other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you SHOW UP. And do your best. That you stay present & feel fully. That you shine & fly & laugh & cry & hurt & heal & fall and get back up & play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s plenty.

– Courtney Walsh

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  • Monthly Empathy Circle:
    • Belfast, ME
      Second Friday of each month, 10am-1pm (formerly first Friday)
      Open Communication office, 243 High Street, Belfast
      You are welcome to come when you can. If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand: Phone 207-322-2122 / email: chezcote5 at

    • Authentic Communication Groups
      Falmouth, ME

      with Andrea Ferrante, trainer and coach
      Two groups meet biweekly, one on alternate Wednesdays; the other on alternate Mondays.
      Authentic Communication Groups are coaching groups designed to open you up to an approach to living that offers greater peace, personal empowerment, and conscious connection to that which sustains and enriches life.

    • See also the Practice Groups page.

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