Marshall Rosenberg on Nonviolent Communication and Money

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In a video on YouTube, called NVC and Money, Dr Marshall Rosenberg talks specifically about Nonviolent Communication and money. As he passed away, this is the closest I can get to sharing his teaching; I have transcribed his words to share how he thought about money - radically different to our usual way of thinking and very inspiring.

There are three main points:

  • First, never pay money for anything.

  • Never charge money for anything.

  • And third, transform the concept of worth.

Using money in a 'giraffe' way

“Let me give you a quick exercise on how to use money in a giraffe way. Three points.First, never pay money for anything. Never charge money for anything. And third, transform the concept of worth. Get that out of your head that anything is worth a certain amount of money.

"So, let’s get rid of the word pay. Don’t ever pay money for anything. Give money. Give it to serve life in the way you want it to serve. Don’t ever charge money, request money from people to help you do the work you want to do. Don’t ever say I will only give you what I find valuable if you give me money. I will be glad to give you what I offer, and I’d like you to give me some money so I can keep giving it to others.

The world we want to live in

He continues, “Do you want to live in a world where people who might have something to help somebody’s family only gives it if you give them money? Do you want to live in that world? Where people die being transferred from one hospital to another because they didn’t have money enough for the first one? Do you want to live in a world where money is used that way? So, never charge money. Don’t do anything for money. Make this clear to yourself. Never do anything for money. Get money to do what you want to do. You see the difference? Do the work to meet your need for meaning. And then get the money you need to do it. Don’t ever do anything for money. Life’s too short.”

Money as a request

“So, I request money. I don’t charge. I give money to help people do what they want to do. If what they do, enriches my life, I’d like to give them money to keep giving this to others. “

He also acknowledges it’s not easy to talk about money. He shares that he was working in a company in Switzerland and this director asked to speak to Marshall. The director said “Great; I’d like you to do the work. What do you charge? Marshall explained, “I don’t charge. I’d be glad to tell you what I would like to receive. Then, I’d like to know what you’d enjoy giving me. And if there is a conflict, I am sure we can work that out.”

Marshall continued to relay the story. The director then said,” I thought you were going to say something like that. And I really like it. But in this company, if I go to my supervisor, they’ll just want to know your charge. I wouldn’t know how to explain this to them.”

Marshall then responded,” Look, I’ll tell you what I would like and you if you want me to come and do this. However you want to deal with the money in your company, that’s your business.”

The director then said,” Okay, okay, what would you like?” Marshall told him, and the director said,” Oh, that’s a problem. If I go to my supervisor and tell them that’s what you’d like, they’ll think you are not worth anything. Most of our consultants ask for three times that.” Marshall said, “Look if you want to give me three times that, I’ll take it. I just need you to know that I don’t do anything for money. I can do it without money for your company because other people give me money.” So, the company gave him three times the money he requested.

"Never do anything for money."

Marshall also explained that when he travels to some countries, he is asked for money, so people can use his services as people would like to attend his workshops and feed their families because if they came to the workshop, their families would possibly not eat that day. He goes on, “In Sierra Leone, for example, I give the people money to come to the workshop. And, I can do that because people in other countries give me money. So, never do anything for money. Do that which meets your need for meaning and request the money you need to do that.”

Additional reading resources: