I was just driving to work. The journey from my house to office took ten minutes, but on this particular day instead of listening to music I chose to listen to Radio 5 Live. An interview was taking place and this very, very calm voice was asking questions to the dj instead of the other way around. The question that changed my life was “Who is making your life less than wonderful?” I was transfixed. What a great question and much more elegant than “Who is pissing you off?” The dj admitted that he was having a difficult time with his live-in girlfriend. Nothing serious, but irritating; we can relate to that. Those small things that seem to upset us so much on a stressful day.
I pulled up outside the office, but wanted to hear more. I snapped off the radio in the car, locked up, dashed into the building and put the radio on in the office. The American accent floated through, talking not to the dj now, but to me. I needed to know more about this man and is so often the way with me, I became obsessed. The voice was Dr Marshall Rosenberg, a psychiatrist from the Chicago area, although he travelled all round the world helping people with conflicts and difficulties. Nothing minor though, Rosenberg’s work had taken him to Palestine and Israel and to Rwanda, shortly after the genocide had come to it’s end. He had also worked in education and with prisoners, slowly his philosophy spread throughout the world. Dr Rosenberg contended that once you worked out exactly what the problem was resolution would take twenty minutes. It was an audacious claim, but it seemed to work as he was much in demand around the world.
This was the spring of 2001; two months before I had returned victorious as the team coach of the British Stick-fighting team that had done so well in Los Angeles. This had been my final hurrah in the sport and now I knew I was looking for something else, something that could help my life move along. I was 38 years old and looking for answers. That radio programme provided them. I went online, found the website and booked myself on the foundation course. A day course in London was the beginning and after that first morning of listening to Rosenberg live (with a few hundred people in the room) I phoned home from a phone box – different times. My girlfriend asked what had happened and as I talked she said she could hear a change in my voice already. I found that either miraculous or crazy, but it did start the transformation. I had struggled with anger issues for years; they stopped that day. I went on as many courses as I could for the next few years and learnt directly from Marshall, even interviewing him at one stage, all the time progressing, as well as buying all the learning materials that existed for NVC.
Today I learnt that at the age of 80 Dr Marshall Rosenberg, a man who changed my life from his voice on the radio, had passed away a few months ago. Immediately I felt sad that I had not tried harder to see him more often, but I was also surprised at the date. You see he died on Saturday 7th February 2015, the same day as I had my book launch and, given the time differences between the USA and the UK, it may even have been whilst the launch was happening. It seems like a circle within a circle – without his teachings I wouldn’t have taken the path that I have which led to me becoming an author. I reference Dr Rosenberg and Nonviolent Communication in the book; it is a wonderful way of expressing yourself honestly and taught me many valuable lessons that I wanted to pass on. I can’t claim to have known the man hardly at all, but such was his power and knowledge that I shall be learning from him from many years after his passing.