Interviews with CEO Microsoft about Nonviolent Communication

Since taking office in February 2014, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, has advocated Nonviolent Communication in various interviews. Below are some fragments with links to the original texts.

Time: April 2015
One of the first books Satya Nadella recommended to his staff after taking the top JOB AT Microsoft was Nonviolent Communication, an unconventional choice for a company where aggressive communicators thrived. Bill Gates famously upbraided staff with the phrase, "That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard," plus one expletive unprintable in a family publication. His successor Steve Ballmer was one of the few executives who could give it right back to Microsoft’s formidable founder, according to co-founder Paul Allen, who offered a frank account of the pair’s nose-to-nose shouting matches in his autobiography…
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Vanity Fair: November 2014
Nadella, despite his long career at Microsoft - and his similarities to Gates - is in fundamental ways a break from the past. He has had his executive team read Nonviolent Communication. (The title speaks for itself.) He’s a genuinely nice person, with a wide smile that cannot be faked. He is liked by people who have worked for him, by his peers, and by those who were above him. "Everyone likes Satya," says one former Microsoft executive. "You cannot dislike Satya. Bill loves him. Steve loves him. Satya is clearly a morally good person." "You want to get behind him," says Greg Sullivan, who is the director of the Windows Phone division.
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Transcript of CNBC interview on Oct. 20, 2014
Nadella: "We had, actually, for very many years, a Microsoft structure which was a business unit structure. We managed each one of the businesses independently. There was of course integration, but at the same time, the accountability culture was about the business unit performance. We always had a shared sales force, but the product creation was always inside of these business units. Now we've brought it together under the One Microsoft rubric to be one play as I say, one strategy. And the thing that requires is a fair amount of coordination. And if there's anything, communication. One of the books I first recommended that everyone read, when I first got on, was Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, which used to be able to say, look, let us make sure we are empathetic to each other's needs, because it requires that. Where does Windows and Office and Cloud come together. But at the same time, each one of these things, for example our cloud strategy, is cross-platform. So we've got to recognize that. Even though we are working together in a very integrated piece, each piece does have uniqueness in terms of their business goals, and we're able to accomplish them."
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Forbes: May 2014
Nadella knows THE POWER of nice. He smiles a lot. He makes gently self-effacing comments about people’s tendency to assume he’s a vegetarian. (He isn’t.) In public remarks he salutes other people on Team Microsoft, ranging from front-line engineers to long-ago cofounder Paul Allen. When Nadella holds one-on-one meetings, people such as Whitman extol him afterward as a "fabulous listener". They like him. They tell him more about their hopes and fears than they intended. The Nadella intelligence-gathering network is in play all the time, and the antennae work better if the dials are set to "nice". Returning to Redmond after road trips, Nadella knows things his competitors don’t.

To spread his ethos he’s been pointing employees to Nonviolent Communication, a BOOK that urges respectful listening instead of the classic Microsoft rejoinder: "That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!" For now, Nadella enjoys a strong 86% approval rating on employee-feedback site Glassdoor, versus Ballmer’s 47% last year, though Nadella’s number will surely slip once he makes spending cuts promised to Wall Street.
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nvc booklet Feel free to download this little booklet with the Nonviolent Communication™ process.

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