about youGeweldloze communicatie

Ever heard of Marshall Rosenberg? He is de founder of ‘non-violent communication’. And with this non-violent communication, he works with to handpuppets: one of a jackal, and one of a giraffe. Because giraffes have the biggest heart of al country animals en non-violent communications is the language of the heart. He uses the jackal as a symbol for language that seperates us from each other and that makes violence into something to enjoy.


When I first heard of non-violent communication, I thought the term non-violent was a bit weird, because how can you communicate violently? But now I think different about that, and I can see clearly how a certain we of communicating does lead to violence.

Without sharing with you all the ins and outs of non-violent communication, I want to let you know some basics, because it can really help you to change conversations for the better. For that I use the Dutch Book ‘The jackal and the giraffe within’ from Justine Mol.


To give you a clue, a conversation between two jackals:

A: Sir, if you don’t immediately turn your car, I will get the police.
B: I won’t, I have to go into that direction. If you just let me pass, that would be appreciated.
A: I’m trying to do my job here! Now turn around, or I’ll kick your car!
B: I don’t let you threaten me. Get the police, and we will see what happens.

And now a giraffe (A) who can’t cope with the jackal of the other person (B) and becomes a jackal himself:

A: There is half a lemon. Maybe you can use it for the fruit salad, do you want to use it for that?
B: Don’t interfere with the cooking!
A: (thinks: she wants to have her own space and is now irritated) Okay, I leave you to it.
B: You keep on bothering me! Always when I am trying a new recipe, you start asking all kind of questions. Leave me alone!
A: (now it is getting to much for A and he turns into a jackal by defending himself) O, you think I do this with bad intentions? I only try to help you!

And this is how a giraffe sounds (A), although the other one (B) sticks to his role as a jackal:

A: Tomorrow is the wedding of uncle Pete and aunt Mary. I know you want to go out tonight. What time are you planning to come home?
B: How could I know?
A: Do I understand it correctly that you don’t want to say at what time you will be home, because you don’t know if it is going to be a nice evening?
B: Piss off, I just don’t want to talk about it.
A: Are you looking forward to tomorrows wedding?
B: What a stupid question, of course not. The whole day these stupid questions ‘how old are you now?’ and ‘how are things at school?’. And then these awful music!
A: I hear that this is not your idea of a nice party. I want to say that I appreciate that you decided to join, although you don’t like it. I love to see the whole family together, so I’m glad you will be there.
B: (sarcastic) You make me cry if you continue…
A:  I hope you will have a great evening tonight. And I hope I can wake you up at 8 in the morning tomorrow.

As you can see, these are every day examples, but I think you start to see something of the way conversations between you and your supervisor sometimes are…

Jackals and giraffes communicatie in different ways, but always with the same steps. Those steps are:

  • observations
  • feelings
  • needs
  • requests

What is the difference between a jackal and a giraffe?

The jackal who is interpreting, judging, generalizing, blaming, criticizing and says:

I see you don’t get it.
Did you not finish that little bit of work yet?

A giraf that is observing says:
I see your eye brow raising.
I see you are writing, how is your job going?

The jackal who is quasi-feeling (he is interpreting and thinks he shares his feelings), says:

It feels like everyone is getting to me.
I feel attacked.

The giraf who is feeling, says:

I am afraid and feel insecure.
I feel uncomfartable if you say this.

The jackal who thinks his strategy is a need, says:

It’s about time we make love!
Because you supervise me in such a bad way, I don’t learn anything.

The giraffe who speaks about his needs, says:

I am looking for intimacy.
I want to learn something.

The jackal who is demanding  or commanding, says:

If you don’t go, I won’t go.
Repeat what I have said!

The giraffe who is making a request, says:

I would love you to join me. Would you do that?
Can you tell me what you just heard me say?

An example of Rosenberg himself:

Can you imagine, that if you talk ‘Giraffe’ with your supervisor, that it would make a world of difference? Please let me know what you think!


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