Call out for interviewees!

Are you female, under 35 and working in a male-dominated field?

If so, I would love to hear from you.

I am developing some online personal development courses for young women in male-dominated industries and I would love to interview a few people to make sure that the courses are going to be as useful for women as they can be.  The courses will address confidence issues, working in or leading teams of men, building your network etc and I would love to know what would support you.

All I ask is half an hour of your time to have a chat about what you love about your job and what would make it more wonderful.

If you would like to be involved, email me at

If you would like to hear more about the courses and groups I have coming up, please sign up to my newsletter

I look forward to hearing from you!


What is Nonviolent Communication?

What is Nonviolent Communication? 

NVC was developed by Marshall Rosenberg, an American psychologist, in the 1960s. On a purely practical level it is a series of steps to follow, to increase your understanding of why you are feeling and acting the way you are and to then understand the same in others. 

“With Nonviolent Communication (NVC) we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our own compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute, every day.” (From website of Center for Nonviolent Communication)

On a consciousness level it is about a commitment to deep connection with the self and with others and through that radically altering the way that humans relate to each other.  At its core it focusses on fundamental human needs and the understanding that in any situation all anyone is trying to do is meet their needs.  Once you become aware of what the need is that you or someone else is trying to meet, it is a lot easier to empathise and start to understand someone’s behaviour.  

Between those two poles of the practical and the conscious, there is where we all place ourselves as practitioners and trainers of Nonviolent Communication.  For me, rather than just telling somebody the importance of empathy in leadership, I like to give a very clear process for what that means and how it might happen.  It is a tool for self-connection so that in any situation you can understand your own motivations better and through that you can create the capacity within you to understand other people’s motivations better.  

What does NVC mean to me?

Where my interest lies, especially in the work I do in male-dominated industries, is in finding ways for people to communicate so that diversity and creating a more diverse team, is a lot less scary and just flows easily.  It is also about bringing our awareness to what is a choice and how much of the way things are – our typical habits and ways of relating to each other – are part of a pattern that can easily be changed, while still staying authentic.  For me it is about changing the small picture while always keeping an eye on the big picture.

How did I get into NVC?

I first heard about NVC while at a festival down in Dorset.  I didn’t go to the workshop but was intrigued by the name.  Then in 2014 I left a relationship and I knew that communication had been a serious issue for us.  I bought Marshall’s book and read it, ticking off all the things that he and I had done that contributed to the relationship not working!  From then I was hooked.  I went to my first course in 2015, started on the path to certification as a trainer in 2017 and would hopefully have certified in 2020 had COVID not got in the way.

Now it is the process I turn to make sense of myself, to understand why something has bothered me, to delve deeper into the core beliefs which underlie the surface behaviour and to empathise better with others.  I love the simplicity of the model combined with the depth that it makes possible.  We are all a work in progress, but I am very grateful to have found the process that works for me.

Image by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

What is Patriarchy?

Patriarchy is a term which pits women against men and women who are willing to call themselves feminists against those who are not.  In fact, the word itself is often the reason for that unwillingness as so many women, like me, know so many lovely men. So let me make this really clear: patriarchy is not about men.  Well, it is not just about men.  So what is patriarchy?

There is so much I could write about patriarchy and over the course of these blog posts I probably will. 

To me, patriarchy is  a system of domination characterised by violence in word and deed, and by the separation of humans from each other, from the natural world, and from their own feelings and needs.

It is a system where judgement and blame are the norm and compassion and connection are discouraged.  It is a system where most suffer financially and everyone suffers personally.

A brief history of patriarchy

Patriarchy means ‘rule by the father’.  It is a system which grew up where the father was the head of the household, all property and power were held in his hands and he passed it all on to his children.  I highlight the word ‘his’ because once the paternity of a man’s children became paramount, women had to be controlled to guarantee that no other man should have access to her.  It was at this point that domination and control became embedded in the system.  This is not the universal or natural order of things, it is historically contingent.  Basically, it just grew up in some places and it spread.  (See Miki Kashtan Why Patriarchy is not about Men)

What patriarchy does not mean 

Patriarchy does not mean that all men have life easier than all women.  It does not mean that there are no other issues of suffering or inequality in the world.  It certainly does not mean that men do not suffer at the hands of patriarchy, quite the opposite.

“I do not want to smash the patriarchy.  I want to be the open, clear and gentle space where it can put down all its weapons and weep its generations of grief.”  Shanti Zimmerman.

I love this quote from Shanti Zimmerman.  Smashing anything brings with it the energy of violence.  To dismantle a violent system by using violence is counter-productive.  Violence does violence to those who perpetrate it just as much as it does to the victims of it (I will write about the work I have done with people who have committed violence elsewhere and working with military veterans is an area of work I would love to stretch into).  To dismantle a system of domination we have to use the tools of nonviolence: compassion, connection, understanding and before all that, grief.


The Political is Personal

Second wave feminism told us that the personal is political  – what happens in the home is reflective of what is going on in society as a whole.  It reminds us that the domestic arrangements that we have always taken for granted are in fact a political statement of how current thinking says that things ought to be.

The political is also personal. 

We internalise the messages that we receive from outside to such an extent that we don’t realise how much we recreate the very systems that we, on the surface, challenge with every fibre of our being.

Once in a webinar where the panellists were all people of colour who practise Nonviolent Communication (, a woman of African descent said that she remembered a time where she had her hand up in class and when two white people then put their hands up, she put hers down.  Noticing herself doing it was the first time she realised just how much the systemic racism in the culture where she lived had colonised her actions.

I felt really moved and sad when I heard that as I started to imagine the journey that she must have taken from being that young girl in the classroom, into the woman at peace in her own power that I witness now.  In his book Natives , Akala tells of his experience of being a boy racialised as black who kept his hand up, and the abuse he subsequently received from his teachers.  I can understand the motivation to play the role that is expected, to keep your hand down, for your own peace and safety.

Have you ever noticed on quiz shows where if there is a team of both men and women and neither of them know the answer, how often the woman says, “Oh I don’t know, you choose”?  I am aware whenever I park an articulated lorry, I am carrying with me generations of voices that tell me that women have no spatial awareness and that I should not be able to do this task.  There have been days when I wanted to agree with them, when I have had enough of the mental fight and I just want to settle into the ease of conforming to stereotype.

This is where my work lies – in the intersection of the political and the personal.  My passion is to tell the truth about the messages which underlie our behaviour, to make the unconscious conscious, so that we can shine a light onto it and change it for the better.

Central to this is kindness. 

As soon as the word ‘diversity’ is mentioned, those in positions of structural privilege – white people, men, people with degrees – instantly feel on their guard, fearful that they are going to make a faux pas, show their underlying privilege or -ism, or simply that they, that we, are going to lose something, our access to jobs or resources.  Before all that, before we think about what it might look like in practice to shift society, we simply have to listen with kindness to the voices of those who are marginalised, and hold ourselves with kindness as we notice our reaction.  Then we can hear each other from a place of connection.