Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Eight, Issue Three: Listening Our Shared World Into Being

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


Listening Our Shared World Into Being:
The Power and Politics of Being Heard
by Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta is the author of From Conflict to Creative Collaboration: A User’s Guide to Dynamic Facilitation. In her workshops Rosa introduces a highly effective and agile way to welcome groups into a co-creative "flow zone" in which participants create practical and innovative solutions while building trust, empathy, and authentic community. This ground-breaking approach to facilitation works within groups to transform unproductive friction into shared understanding, breakthrough thinking, and high-functioning teamwork. The article that follows was first published in Rosa's blog, The Listening Arts. Used with permission, slightly abridged.

I’ve been thinking about something these days – given the way our society is set up, it’s no wonder that many of us don’t think of listening as a powerful activity! The way things are currently structured, listening is usually what the powerless are forced to do, and what the powerful refuse to do.

I get that, from a spiritual perspective, no one is truly powerless. Yet in the systems we live in, a parent can punish you, a teacher can get you in trouble, a boss can fire you. And whether as young children in a family, or as young people in school, or as workers in a workplace, many of us have been "forced" to listen to those with authority, who have the power-to-compel.

With few exceptions, we ourselves have not been deeply heard in those contexts.

What we usually learn from this is that if you are a powerful person, you get to tell others what to do. And they? Well, they have to listen to you (or at least, pretend to do so.) To make some useful distinctions, I’m going to call that "forced" listening. Unfortunately, it’s the only kind that many of us know.

Then there’s "fake" listening. Some adults have learned that the appearance of listening can be a manipulative way to find out what others want, so that those others can be more easily convinced to buy something. Others sometimes offer a facade of listening as a short-term fix that gives employees the illusion that they are being heard. Like our society’s mad addiction to short-term profits, all of these practices are usually extremely damaging in the long run.

And then there’s "free" listening. And that’s another story altogether. "Free" listening (or generous listening, or authentic listening, or heart-centered listening) is not something that you can compel. Just like you can’t force any one to open their hearts to you.

"Free" listening, real listening that is freely given, is a priceless gift. It is an expression of genuine caring, by someone who is freely choosing to be there for you. Not just going through the motions because they have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed.

In our faux democracy, we often confuse the "opportunity to speak" with the experience of being heard. While they may be related, they are two totally different things.

I remember attending a local public hearing a few years ago, where a long line of eloquent, thoughtful, caring community members got up to speak about a community issue they cared deeply about. At the end of the evening, they went home hugely disappointed. While they had each gotten a chance to speak, they had not received any indication that they had actually been heard.

In contrast, the experience of being truly heard is extremely powerful. It has the power to nourish, and to bring forth life. And this power grows exponentially, whenever "free" listening moves beyond a one-on-one encounter, into a community experience. Whenever we create the conditions where people are able to truly hear one another – that kind of listening is so powerful, that it can literally bring shared worlds into being.

The women’s movement was born from that kind of power. Feminist theologian Nelle Morton described consciousness-raising groups as "hearing one another, into speech."

In education, some teachers create a listening environment in the classroom, and listen to children as they make meaning – for example, invite students to think aloud as they share different ways they’ve discovered for working through a math problem. This is called constructivist education, and it’s a powerful way for children to develop the ability to think and problem-solve, instead of just applying formulas by rote. I wrote about it briefly in the introduction of this article (pdf document) on co-creative approaches to dialogue:

In business organizations, there’s a small yet vital history of work places that have become hugely effective (and profitable!) by really listening to their workers, instead of only pretending to do so. (Here’s a great book on this topic.)

In therapy, the Open Dialogue movement in northern Finland has shown how offering family members respectful opportunities to deeply hear one another, on a frequent basis, helps young people recover from schizophrenia and other mental health conditions. In the long run, it is also more cost-effective than hospitalizations.

So, helping people feel deeply heard, in a group context, can be powerful stuff!

Here’s the thing, though – to offer real listening others, we ourselves need the opportunity to be deeply heard. We need places where we can have the space and the support so that we can listen to our own selves more deeply. Because the parts inside of us, that we have not yet listened to, are the very places that can make it hard to really listen to someone else – especially if that person has similar hurt places inside.

Sure, we can try to "force" ourselves to listen to someone else, for all sorts of good reasons; yet the more we have made peace with our own hearts, the more we can freely offer heart-centered listening to others.

In therapy, we call this "supervision" – a horrible word that can call up images of a boss looking over your shoulder. In this particular context though, what it means is quite the opposite. It’s not about having someone tell you what to do. Instead, the point is that if you are listening to others full-time, you need to have people who can listen to you, who can support you, in your own growth.

I've recently started offering online small groups for peer support, personal growth, and professional development, for those of us whose calling is listening to others. If you are interested in this work, I’d love to hear from you. And regardless, I invite you to take a moment, to reflect upon and appreciate whatever support and nourishment you may already have in your life, to support your practice of deep listening. May the listening work you do, continue to bring great benefits to others!

Rosa will be sharing her approach to this work in South Portland, Maine, April 28-30: details
Rosa can be contacted by email: [rosa at]

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March 23-25, 2017, Hutchinson Center, Belfast, ME
Don't miss this rare opportunity to workshop with Sarah Peyton right here in Maine!
Only 2 weeks from now! Register today!

Transforming Adverse Childhood Experiences:
What Neuroscience and Nonviolent Communication Have to Offer
with Sarah Peyton, CNVC Certified Trainer and internationally published author

Online registration, followed by online payment option here.
Link to payment page, if you need it at a separate time from doing the registration form: here.
Mail-in registration option (printable pdf) here.
PLEASE NOTE: Some people have been experiencing difficulties with the online registration process for this event. Our apologies. If you have had or are having such difficulty, please either utilize the mail-in registration option, or email the Registrar, Betsy, [aurelia37 at] for an email version of the registration.
Thank you.


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.


Level 1 trainings


Level 2 trainings


April 28-30, S. Portland, ME
Dynamic Facilitation & Heart-Centered Listening

with Rosa Zubizarreta


May 5-8, Bar Harbor, ME
Living the Self in Life

with Robert Gonzales
Register here / Details
Early-bird discount until April 1 – only $325 for the three days with Robert.


Registration is now OPEN for the 2017-18 program.

Details and mail-in registration form

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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.


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.


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Poetry Corner:

Finding What You Didn't Lose

by John Fox

When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you've had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.
When someone deeply listens to you,
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind's eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!
When someone deeply listens to you,
your bare feet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.


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