Compassionate Communication

Compassionate Communication, based on Marshall B. Rosenberg’s book, Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life, is a core philosophy of the Odyssey School program. We strive to incorporate Compassionate Communication in all arenas of the Odyssey School community, from the boardroom, to the classroom, to our adult/family programs. We ask the adult members of our community  to read Rosenberg’s book and take advantage of the Compassionate Communication classes offered through Odyssey School.  Students are taught the language of Compassionate Communication and  how to use it, and the benefits of sharing this language in both the home and the Odyssey School community are immeasurable. Consistency in the use of Compassionate Communication provides reinforcement and emotional safety.

In a nutshell, Compassionate Communication is about the pursuit of kindness, understanding, and freedom from patterns of subtle (and not so subtle) verbal violence. It helps us transform judgement and criticism into understanding and connection and helps us to break patterns of thinking that lead to angry conflict. By practicing Compassionate Communication we equip ourselves to develop relationships based on respect and cooperation. While none of us have mastered the ideals of Compassionate Communication, we practice it for the benefit of our children and our greater community.

Communication between families and the school requires collaboration. A working partnership with active involvement and frequent communication demonstrates our shared commitment to our children and to the school community. Direct communication, based in a positive, constructive dialogue between individuals, is vital.  We ask that classroom questions and concerns be discussed with teachers  before being repeating to others. If discomfort around speaking with a teacher is too high,  we advise parents to seek help from the headmaster or admissions director. Adults, as well as children, need to communicate directly, to express their feelings and listen to those of others.  Guidelines can be helpful, and we propose that we all think about the integrity of our communications regarding  by adhering to the following agreement.


by Carolyn R. Shaffer and Kristin Anundsen

Take responsibility for your own feelings. Do not expect others to read your mind. Use ‘I’ statements and refrain from blaming others.

Communicate directly with the person or persons involved in an issue. Do not work through go-betweens or serve as a go-between for others. If someone asks you for information about an issue in which you are not directly involved, direct him or her to the proper source.

Do not speak critically about others behind their backs unless you voice the same criticisms to their faces. To avoid unhelpful speculation, give specific names when you make a critical comment in a meeting.

State your position or concern before asking how others feel about it. Do not set someone up to give a “wrong” answer. Be courageous and put yourself on the spot first.

Practice active listening. Listen silently and with your whole self until the speaker has finished speaking. Then restate what the speaker has said and wait for confirmation.

Provide continual feedback. Do not allow resentments to build up, and do not forget to give positive strokes.

Respect and validate others’ feelings. If you do not agree or do not support another’s statement, acknowledge what has been said, then make your point.

Use humor softly, not sharply.

It is our goal as a school for all members of our community to communicate compassionately with one another, and we encourage individuals to follow the school’s communication agreement.

Odyssey School is an independent, non-profit school with a focus on whole child, emotionally intelligent, personalized curriculum for students in PreK-12. Our mission is to prepare students, families, and educators to lead lives of intention and purpose with an authentic sense of self.

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