Paul Klipp: Components of Listening Part II

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Coaching, Conference | 3 Comments
Paul Klipp

Paul Klipp at ALE2014

Paul Klipp talked about listening at ALE2014 in Kraków. He identified three key components:

Non-Violent Communication

Marshal Rosenberg has developed non-violent communication to an art form. He says that any time a person talks to another person they’re trying to express four things (and usually do it very ineffectively):

  • an observation,
  • a feeling,
  • a need, and
  • a request.
Non-Violent Communication

Non-Violent Communication

Paul gave a very beautiful example by telling this story:

A mother looks out of her kitchen window and sees her child fall off a bicycle when doing a trick, and almost crack his head open on the pavement. She freaks out. She runs out of the house and shouts, “Bobby! Get your ass back into the house! What the hell are you doing? You’re going to kill yourself! Go to your room!”

What she means, is, “Bobby, when I observed you fall off your bicycle and almost hit your head on the pavement… I felt very frightened, because… my relationship to you is a very important part of my life, as it fills me with joy and meaning. The thought of that being taken away from me by something as simple as a knock on the head was terrifying for me. So I would like to request, would you please, when you’re doing stunts on your bicycle, always wear a helmet? Would you be willing to do that for me?”

By the same token, if her son was trained in NVC, he would be listening for these things. So, when his Mom comes shouting at him, instead of shouting back, “You never let me do anything, Mom! I hate you!” he would help her express herself by asking:

“Mom, are you angry, because I was doing stunts on my bike and you think that’s inappropriate?” That would be wrong, as she’s not angry, she’s frightened. Yet now, they’re having a conversation about feelings, and she is having a feeling right now. That’s something she can talk about. She says, “No, I’m not angry, I’m frightened! I was terrified! I almost saw you die out there!”

Then he says, “You’re frightened, because… You were afraid that I would be hurt?” — “Yes!” — “Is there something I could do to make you less frightened when I’m doing stunts?” — “You could wear a helmet…”

Non-violent communication is a big set of really valuable and interesting techniques and practices. Having this as a framework to sort out how you express yourself, and to help someone else expressing themselves is very useful.

Disclose Yourself

Disclose Yourself (from Jim & Michele McCarthy’s Software for Your Head)


Knowing how to listen well and create a thinking environment for others, and knowing how to understand others and express yourself with clarity about observations, feelings, needs and requests, may not suffice when you’re in a competitive environment fighting for air time. When you are in a discussion where everyone is trying to drive their point home, or when you are sitting in your office and someone comes in your office and shouts at you, it’s hard to access these communication resources. You have a visceral reaction. It’s how our brains are wired.

To train your brain’s ability to think even when you’re triggered to have a visceral reaction, Paul recommends mindfulness. I’ll cover that in a third post.


Have you had any experiences with non-violent communication? How did it help you?.


  1. Trust Artist Paul Klipp: Components of Listening Part I - Trust Artist
    September 2, 2014

    […] Understand emotional expressions, (see the next post) […]

  2. Paul
    September 2, 2014

    I am enjoying these posts, but I have to ask . . . is that really the best picture you got of my talk? I look like a drunk tripping over a squirrel.

    • Olaf
      September 2, 2014

      The picture wasn’t taken during your talk (as I was intensively listening)… out of the pictures I took of you it is the one I like most. Will look for an alternative 🙂


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