Creating a safe, inspiring learning environmentEmpathises with the group and dares to share emotions and insights honestly and respectfullyEmpathy, honesty and respectUnderstanding and facilitating individual and group learning process

Truthful and non-violent communication

Empathic, honest and respectful communication is key to further developing a safe learning environment. Being true to yourself and establishing an open and respectful as well as educational relationship with learners is a lot more important than using super cool, new and exciting methods. As Mark K. Smith points out, “facilitators have to be experienced as genuine – real people that one can be related to; they have to care for and respect people, and they need to develop some sense of what might be going on for others. In part, they do this by coming to understand themselves” (2001; 2009).

Why did I choose this tool? I chose this tool as a way to expand the understanding on how important it is to be genuine with the group and not take the educational process as a theatre play of fake cheerfulness and fun games. I believe that the core of non-formal education comes from the relationship and interaction between the educators and the learners, therefore I chose a tool that gives insights into this phenomena.

How does this apply to being a trainer? it is important for the educator to be able to communicate the truth to the learners and also maintain a safe emotional environment. The non-violent communication approach proposes a way to do it, and might be useful to be introduced in our daily and professional lives.

Main content:

Start with watching a TED talk on the power of truth:

Reflect and answer the following questions:

  • What do you usually share with the group?
  • Think of a situation when you were asked to share something and you refused to? What were the reasons behind it?
  • What do you struggle to share?
  • What do you think is not appropriate to share with a group of learners?

Now that we agree (do we?) that the truth is an important factor in working with people especially if we want to encourage their personal and professional growth, I’d like to offer you to watch a TED talk on vulnerable honesty as speaking the truth can be hard especially if you don’t practice if too often as it happens in many cultures. The TED talk on vulnerable honesty

connects us with the theory of non-violent communication as a way and a strategy to say the truth and create an open and safe learning environment.

Hearing how important something is, is not nearly enough to actually learn how to do it, Marshal B. Rossenberg proposes a few steps on how to go through the non-violent communication:

Try it out with a friend, family member or a colleague and later, reflect on how it went. What would you do the same and what would you do differently? What works for you? Then, try again.

Reflection questions:

  • Where is the line between over-sharing and not sharing enough?
  • How do you balance personal and professional relationships with the learners?
  • What else could be helpful besides a non-violent communication approach in order to communicate effectively with the group?
  • What is questionable about the non-violent communication theory? What are the situations in which it might not be educational?


How to apply it in everyday life:

No better way to learn it, but to try it. Every single day. Take courage and communicate the truth. Use the techniques if needed.

Author of the article: Justina Garbauskaitė-Jakimovska

Justina Garbauskaitė-Jakimovska is a freelance educator and researcher in the field of non-formal learning and youth who also works in the teacher training programmes at Vilnius University in Lithuania. Favourite topics are facilitation of learning, personal and professional development. Justina is also a member of the Pool European Youth Researchers, her research interests are non-formal learning process, how learners experience and make sense out of it, the professional development of youth workers and trainers in the youth field. All of this combined = evidence based practices + practice informed research.

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Editor: Donatas Petkauskas

is professional supervisor, coach and experiential learning trainer, having more than 15 years of experience in consulting various organizations and individuals, creating and conducting training course on national and international levels. Donatas has extensive experience in non-formal education, training of youth workers and trainers. He is working in the field of non-formal education since 2003, since 2004 he is a member of trainers pool of Lithuanian National Agency (currently an alumni).

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Rossenberg, M. B., How you canuse the NVC process.Smith, M. K. (2001; 2009) ‘Facilitating learning and change in groups’, the encyclopaedia of informal education

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