Scary Honesty, Part 2: What response did I get?

In my previous blog entry, “Scary Honesty: An Essential Tool in my Communication Toolbox,” I shared an email that I wrote to a colleague after I discovered that three chapters of a book that I co-authored were being shared for free on her team’s website (without any information about how to purchase the book and in violation of copyright laws, which allow up to one chapter to be used, or 10% of a book).  I also was disappointed that the site neglected to include a link to buy the book.

If you recall from Part 1 of this story, when the publisher discovered the copyright infringement, they said their lawyer would send a “cease and desist” letter.  I asked them to hold off until I reached out to my colleague who was listed on the site, to see if we could resolve this without legal action.

I figured that since we all practice Nonviolent Communication, that we could find a solution that was far more amicable and connecting that a letter from a lawyer (that basically, in my opinion, would be delivering a demand: remove the three chapters, or else!).

In this blog, I’ll share the response that I received and how I feel about the outcome.  But first, if you haven’t read my initial email to my colleague, read it here and then return to this page.

In the end, my colleague reached out to someone directly involved with managing the site, and that person (referred to here as the Associate), responded in detail to my message. Here’s her reply:

Dear Dian,

I apologize for taking a bit to get back to you.  I was offline for a week and have been working on figuring a number of things out, one of which is this!  I’ve finally figured out how to take the document off the website — that took me a bit of scrambling!

Also, I apologize for overstepping any bounds or rules.  I was operating under the assumption that one could share up to ⅓ of a book.  I hadn’t scanned it — I had purchased it from the publisher years ago.  I’m sure those records are still there.

The course we ran was a few years ago and if you look through the website you can see that we’ve tried to provide ample resources for our teachers from Latin America to learn Compassionate Communication.

I wish I had thought of putting a direct link to where the book could be purchased.  We always shared information about the publisher with our students.  The course isn’t being offered now — the site is just up for those that took the course as a resource.

So again, my apologies.

I hope that this rectifies the situation.  If you need to reach me you can find me at…

Thanks so much,

(end of the email message)


As you might be able to guess, I was happy to receive this email. It took about two weeks to get a response, so, at one point, I was wondering if I would hear from the person directly involved.

I was also happy that the person in charge of the site understood our concerns, and that their posting this much of the book was an error (believing that sharing this much was legal and acceptable).  This was reassuring for me (that we share similar values around consideration, choice, and respect) and also that they had been letting students know about the publisher, and wished now that they had included that information online.

Dian Killian, Ph.D.
Dian Killian, Ph.D.

I felt relieved, with a sense that my (and the publisher’s) needs mattered and that we were on the same page and had resolution and closure.  I was also relieved (valuing harmony and connection) that we did not need to involve the lawyer, and that our exchange (on both sides) seemed to come from a place of trust, mutual respect, and care.

Part of me was disappointed that the specificity of my request (that one chapter be posted, with a link to buy the book be left up on the site) was not followed.  I want the information shared in my book to be available, and more people to learn about Nonviolent Communication (while also wanting sustainability for the book being in print).  Yet hearing the effort it took this person to remove it from the site, and that the course was over, I decided to let go of that request.

I am aware now that I could have made another request, too:  That the organizers email everyone who’d participated in the program, and send them a link to the book.  At the same time, the organizer said that the publisher had been mentioned to the students.  Like in other areas of my life, I do my best to balance all my needs — for information, care, awareness, and efficiency and ease.

What’s your take on how this exchange went down?  Do you have a sense that it was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and that everyone was respected in the process?

Is there anything you might have done differently, or in addition to what I did?  Leave a comment below!

And is there an example in your life where you made use of your NVC skills to practice “scary honesty”?  If so, I invite you to share your story.

3 thoughts on “Scary Honesty, Part 2: What response did I get?

  1. I wonder how this could’ve worked out if there were face-to-face or voice to voice communication during the process but first called explaining yourself and then sending the letter as a back up would have resulted in finding a more amicable solution that would’ve met those needs as described

    • Yes, when it’s possible I almost always prefer a face-to-face (first choice) or phone conversation (second choice) over email. There is more communication “information” available–tone, body language, pitch, etc. In this case all we had In this case, we did not have a phone number for the website which has posted the content–and the programs offered were outside of the US. So I opted instead to contact a trainer who had worked with them, as a way of making contact/getting more information. Even though this was conducted via email, I am happy with the outcome. While face to face is ideal, NVC can be practiced via email too. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Scary Honesty: An Essential Tool in my Communication Toolbox | Work Collaboratively

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