Phil Zimbardo and Marshall Rosenberg – the role of Compassion w.r.t. evil

Two people I’d love to see in a room together…. Phil and Marshall 🙂

Perhaps it has already happened and I just don’t know.

My last blog post was a while ago. Since then, my thinking keeps returning to Zimbardo’s answer referenced in that post, and now I find myself considering his answer in the context of the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) work of Marshall Rosenberg (Compassionate Communication) that I’ve been interested in for many years now.

Using workplace “evil” as an example, my take on Zimbardo is:

Perceived unfairness in the workplace is a mismatch between individual values and corporate values. This leads people to feel freer to engage in unethical behaviour as it somehow can be seen as correcting the mismatch. So Zimbardo’s point is that organizations need to take more responsibility to create conditions that do not promote unethical behaviour (looking a bit like the Rosenberg point 2 below).

(from the Rosenberg NVC webpage):

“Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is sometimes referred to as compassionate communication. Its purpose is to:

  1. create human connections that empower compassionate giving and receiving
  2. create governmental and corporate structures that support compassionate giving and receiving.

NVC involves both communication skills that foster compassionate relating and consciousness of the interdependence of our well being and using power with others to work together to meet the needs of all concerned.”

There does seem to be an interesting connection here. Neither Rosenberg nor Zimbardo look at evil as an attribute.  In both cases the problem is identified as coming from structures or situations that don’t mesh with the human desire to express appropriate (compassionate) values. The “mismatch” sounds like it is all about an unmet need to have those values respected and supported. NVC techniques might help to uncover these needs and find compassionate ways to address them.

Compassion as a tool to bring people back from the “dark side” .


2 Responses to Phil Zimbardo and Marshall Rosenberg – the role of Compassion w.r.t. evil

  1. feedbackculture says:

    I so much agree with “Compassion as a tool to bring people back from the “dark side” – I´ve experienced a lot of times already that it works extraordinarily well! It brings them back to real connection, and when I´m really connected to myself and others the last thing that occurs to me naturally is punishing people or being violent…

    By the way, I´ve finally found time to answer to your other comment about Marshall and Zimbardo:-) Just that you know…

  2. ewellburn says: is the link to a blog I’m following with some very interesting ideas on this topic. The “colour changing card trick” is a great example of some of the important concepts.

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