BONUS: Melissa Lang on using Nonviolent Communication as a method to build stronger teams

Nonviolent communication is a method of a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It focuses on three aspects of communication: self-empathy (defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience), empathy (defined as an understanding of the heart in which we see the beauty in the other person), and honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).

Melissa was made aware of Non-violent communication via the work of Bob Marshall (check out his episode on Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast), and his blog where he published several articles about Nonviolent Communication. Thanks to this work, and some of the Marshall Rosenberg Nonviolent communication videos on YouTube, Melissa got started with NVC. A journey that changed her view of communication and what matters when it comes to building stronger teams.

But how can we, as Scrum Masters benefit from this method?

A simple context where NVC may be useful is when teams and team members want to get and give feedback. NVC can be very useful to phrase our feedback in a way that highlights what we are looking for (our needs being met) without expressing judgement over others (our opinions of them). But that’s only one of the contexts where NVC may be useful. There are many others.

I bet your team has a lot of written communication with stakeholders and within the team. Is that right? Well, then you know that written communication has a lot of potential for misunderstandings and to generate conflicts. How can we avoid that? By using better approaches to communicate. Melissa also explains how we can use NVC ideas to make written communication less conflictuous and more likely to have the impact we hope.

What we need to be able to communicate effectively

NVC is a good method to structure our communication, but before we can use that method we need to understand how we feel. NVC, being a needs/emotions driven communication method requires us to be aware of our own emotions and feelings. So we need to learn about emotions and needs. And especially we need to enlarge our vocabulary about needs and feelings so that we can communicate them in a way that is understandable by others. This is especially important if you are not a native speaker of the language you use at work.

Where should I get started if I want to know more about NVC?

When it comes to getting started with NVC, Melissa has a few recommendations for us. The first is the book by Marshall Rosenberg: Nonviolent communication, A Language of Life, but is also very important to practice every part of the method as well as read and learn about emotions, feelings(PDF) and needs.

In this episode Melissa also shares simple practices you can take into use immediately to help you practice NVC and help your team learn about, and maybe even get started with NVC.

About Melissa Lang

Melissa has worked in many diverse jobs over the last 20 years: ethnomusicologist, cook, IT project manager, agile coach. In all of those jobs, her main focus has been on strengthening team work and facilitating communication. As a dedicated agilist for 10+ years Melissa has worked at a range of companies, from start-up to multi-national corporation. Currently she is coaching teams from Barcelona and Hamburg at Xing AG where she has been employed since December 2011.

You can connect with Melissa Lang on Twitter and link with Melissa Lang on XING or LinkedIn.

If you want to follow Melissa’s writings, be sure to follow her blog over at Medium.

 

Matthew Heusser on what it means to “do” scrum

Many will think that having daily standups + iterations + user stories is enough to “do” Scrum. Well, that can be very far from what Scrum is about. In this episode we discuss some of the most critical anti-patterns in teams that end up under-performing or even worse: dis-integrating.
We also mention two very important books for every scrum master: Agile Software Development by Cockburn, and Team of Teams by McChrystal.

About Matthew Heusser

Matthew Heusser is the co-author of Save our Scrum, co-chair of the enterprise track at Agile2015, And he is also an author at CIO.com. Matt Software is a delivery consultant/writer and Collaborative software geek since before it was cool.
You can find Matthew Heusser on LinkedIn, and connect with Matthew Heusser on Twitter.

Tim Bourguignon follows the pain to understand how the system works

Follow the pain to understand the system. Look for unexplained trends, then look outside the team for possible explanations. Find out who is actually communicating with whom. Measure everything you can to detect changes, or impacts from others outside the system. Then sit back and see the big picture.

About Tim Bourguignon

Tim likes to describe himself as a full time geek, agile developer and BS hunter. He was born in France, raised as a European child and currently lives in Germany where he juggles with software development and Scrum Mastering. When he’s not in front of a computer, you’ll find him behind a camera, in his running shoes or with his wife & son… of course never in that order!
You can connect with Tim Bourguignon on twitter or visit Tim Bourguignon’s website to see what he is up to.

Andy Deighton shares how the communication inside the team can affect communication with stakeholders

Communication inside the team is a key indicator of whether they are performing or not. But the quality of communication in the team will also directly affect the communication with the stakeholders. Andy shares his insights into how to enable teams to improve the way they communicate, and work on the group dynamic.

About Andy Deighton

scrum_master_toolbox_podcast_Andy_Deighton Andy has over 20 years of development experience in Smalltalk and Java, and is now a Scrum Master at Bright Interactive, based in Brighton on the south coast of the UK. He’s a former professional photographer and budding songwriter. You can find Andy Deighton on twitter. Connect with Andy Deighton in LinkedIn.