Rosenberg starts his book with some dramatic examples of the violence that is endemic in society. He uses this to explain his preoccupation with Nonviolent Communication as a way to reconnect people with their compassionate nature. NVC, he states, is a way of communicating that leads us to give from the heart.

In an industrial context, the type of physical violence he describes is unusual, and people rarely seek a deep, emotional connection with their colleagues and customers—a pleasant, mutually advantageous relationship is usually enough. Nevertheless, misunderstandings abound in the workplace, both between colleagues and with customers. Emotions can run high too, even though professional politeness may mask them. And though communication issues manifest themselves in a less dramatic way than in war or on the street, they are real, often painful and frequently lead to loss of efficiency and business. Their underlying causes—failure to understand each other, summary judgements, harsh words, lack of consideration or empathy, and so on—are the same as those that cause nations to fight and one man to persecute another. They also have us scream thoughtlessly at our children.

These common causes explain why NVC can be applied successfully in a very wide range of circumstances, including business ones.

In fact, when I picked up my copy of Rosenberg’s book a moment ago, I was heartened to see that the supporting quotation on the front cover—‘This is one of the most useful books you’ll ever read’—was contributed by William Ury, co-author of Getting to Yes, a book on commercial negotiation that has sold over two million copies in over 20 languages.

The interesting associations don’t stop there. The foreword is by Arun Gandhi, grandson and pupil of M.K.Gandhi. He makes the point very clearly that our culture of communication is violent, even if most people don’t resort to club and leather very often. Recognising this violence in our own communication and correcting it is of utmost importance, and NVC gives us a protocol for this.

The protocol that Rosenberg advocates, and the mindset that goes with it, are extremely effective in a B2B context, as I attempt to demonstrate in Chapter 6 of Client Encounters. I hope that Customer Facing Engineers will appreciate that chapter for its synthesis of the subject, written by an engineer for engineers. I would be delighted if it were to spark an interest in NVC itself, which provides the foundation for the SUBROUTINE tool described therein. If it does, then this book by Rosenberg is a good starting point, and there are many other excellent works on NVC waiting for you further down the road.