GUEST BLOG: Roshni Sami – The new politics of now



Non-violent communication – If those three words resonate with you then I suggest you find a course here and try it. I had no idea what it was before I turned up, but now feel like I have found the answer to life, the universe and everything – well at least a good measure of why the missing million have checked out of politics and why parliament is not helping us solve our problems, and how we can create more connection and meaning in our lives.

The first thing that struck me about non-violent communication (or NVC) is how language can be fundamentally consensual – in that it can ask for permission and build trust – just through applying a framework for a way of speaking to each other. The way you talk and order by which you talk about things, can change everything. What I learned through trying this, is that reframing how we express ourselves and how we hear others, is a way to be more inclusive and to share power. I immediately saw the link between consensual language and democratic principles at a very personal level.

Most people at the course had come to improve relationships with partners or children or both. To bridge communication and reconnect with young people where the old communication systems based on demanding and blaming were not working. I thought of the missing million, who were probably impacted by negative campaigning and felt disconnected or distrustful or both.

There’s not much value in explaining how NVC works because it’s the kind of thing you need to try out, not read about. But basically non-violent communication is premised on the theory that all we’re ever doing is seeking to fulfill our needs. The strategies we use to try to fulfill those needs might clash resulting in conflict – but the underlying need itself, is a truth, and is neither good nor bad. NVC teaches you how to connect with your own feelings and needs to communicate and connect authentically with others. If you operate from this basis you can leave behind things like judgement, blame, assumptions, the need to be right, comparisons, labeling and entitlements. You can reduce time spent on conflict and spend more time and energy on solutions, and working together.

Unfortuantely it’s exactly judgement, blame, comparisons, and labeling, that the media, our leaders, and the political class, spend most of their time amplifying. This is not a framework that is leading us to a better place, in fact it disengages people. We have to do things differently. Politics of the margins tells us that our own bodies can be the starting place, they can be sites of resistance in the wash of neoliberalism. How we communicate affects life within ourselves, with our family, at work and to the wider the world. NVC has been around since the late 60s, but for me it is an exciting new way to resist neoliberalism at all levels.

I feel a strong need to move forward beyond how we do things now. I am bored of entrenched privilege, and idea of seeking to entrench myself anywhere to create my own privilege is totally uninteresting. I want to learn about and seek out solutions so everyone can participate equitably in society. I want new and better ideas and ways of doing things, ways of working together. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to complain, I don’t want to articulate the problem yet again. I don’t want to repeat old patterns. I want to affirm all the things that are good, appreciate our strengths, use the resources and networks we have now to provide the services and initiatives that will make a difference, for people right now.


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Roshni Sami, BA/BCom, MA, Auckland, New Zealand. — Roshni Sami is an activist, researcher and project manager. She is of Pakeha and Fiji-Indian heritage. She returned to Fiji to after grad school and worked for six years in the Pacific doing work for development agencies such as UNWOMEN, AusAID and other not-for-profits organisations including running the Pacific Network on Globalisation a trade policy watch-dog. Disillusioned by what she saw in the development sector, she returned to New Zealand in 2011 and worked in property for three years, before supporting the Internet MANA campaign in the 2014 election. She is currently volunteering with Migrant Action Trust in Auckland.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Roshni. I am going to follow your advice and enrol. Since our Rethink the System experience I am utterly convinced that we need tools and processes for moving politics beyond the it’s current stuck position.

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