My Story

Elke Haggerty, LL.M., MBA
CNVC Certified Trainer

Throughout my life, I have valued communication. At age 11, I told a friend that many in my family had divorced and that I wanted lasting relationships when I was older. I recall sharing she had squished toes from her ballet shoes, and I thought, I will consider what my (future 4) children want and offer them choices.

As an adult, I experienced the value of transparency in personal relationships and the costs of its absence in some workplaces. When I completed my law degree, I delved into organizational analysis, facilitation, and public consultation and worked as a project facilitator and educator using my communication skills.

After I discovered Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in 2015, my path began shifting to learning and sharing NVC. With a way of being rooted in mutual consideration, self-response-ability, honest expression, and choice, NVC felt like a natural fit. The more I acknowledged my feelings and found ways to speak about my needs with an intention to connect, the more authentically I lived and the more alive and joyful I felt. Awareness of others’ needs opened the way for creative ways to move forward together at home and at work. I saw a myriad of ways that NVC could be supportive, from personal development and family relationships to business innovation and peaceful international relations.

People have described me as optimistic and creative. As a trainer, I aim to facilitate fun, safe, participatory learning environments. Sometimes, tools can help us learn, and I enjoy creating these for my learners and other facilitators. I am creating The Road to Connection, a printable game aimed at combining learning and laughing that invites players to try on various perspectives. Other examples of tools are printable, two-sided puppets with additional, new characters like the “Should Otter” (who says “you ought-to-do this and you ought-to-do that”), Stratapus (an octopus who does everything but empathize, such as advise, reassure, and sympathize), and the mindfulness sloth Max L’Aware. Having different tools to choose from, like these playful ones and others like an anger accordion and table tents, provides options that may appeal to different groups and individuals.

I’m also excited to see how we can learn more together, for example, by journaling together, meeting in peer circles, and sharing stories. One journaling participant wrote, “I got bodily relief from doing the NVC Journaling in the group by Elke. I feel so relieved; I feel like a big shift has happened in my body. It was deep.” Colleague facilitators expressed that they felt encouraged on their certification path. Shortly after I shared a story with my sister about the transformation that occurred when one of my sons felt heard and chose to empathize with a child at school who had punched and kicked him during school recesses (the child apologized and said he hated school), she applied some of the insights she gained.

A young adult man came into her local café shouting at the staff, “How come you didn’t put salt down on that ice out there like you said you would?!!” Her initial reaction was, why is he acting out like that!? Then she remembered my story and realized something must be underneath his anger. She stepped forward and asked, “Hey, can I buy you a coffee?” He – and the other patrons – immediately calmed down and he blurted out that his family was in a custody battle. She listened and gave him a gift card to order his coffee and sandwich. When he returned the card to her, he said, “You have no idea how this has helped me.”

Magical things can happen when we listen and work together. I am delighted to be able to contribute to that magic in people’s lives through NVC.