Non-violent communication

Non-violent communication

29 November 2022
Veerle Seymus
Veerle Seymus
  • Are you a jackal or a giraffe?

  • Psychologist Marshall Rosenberg invented the NVC method and used two distinct animals to represent either end of the communication spectrum.

    The heart of a giraffe is the largest of any land animal. It can see beyond its immediate surroundings. At the same time, it is powerful and can defend itself and others with a kick. And, maybe the most potent emblem on its palate that can melt thorns.

    The jackal represents our standard communication method: scrutinizing, critiquing, analyzing, moralizing, and accusing. When communication is focused toward vengeance, demands, and offenses, with no room for restitution but to elevate one's point above others, we are jackals. Jackals look for someone to blame. Giraffes seek answers that will bring them together.

  • I'm learning to speak Giraffe.

  • I speak Jackall very well. It comes naturally to me to judge, criticize, analyze, moralize, demand, blame and accuse. Learning the language of the Giraffe, which is compassionate, connecting, and uniting, is hard.

    Confronted by not getting my messages across as I wanted, I attended a 2-day introduction training in Non-Violent Communication.

    What are my main takeaways from practicing difficult conversations?

    🔍Distinguish between observations and judgment. Express what you see instead of immediately evaluating.
    For example, "The surveys are not completed. Why did you forget?" versus "The surveys are not completed. What happened?"

    🗬 Notice the subtle difference between thoughts and feelings.
    For example, "When you don't greet me, I feel neglected." = interpretation versus "When you don't greet me at the door, I feel lonely." = feeling

    📚 Extend your dictionary with other words for feelings.
    For example, 'excited' is also coined as amazed, animated, astonished, dazzled, eager, enthusiastic, invigorated, lively, passionate, surprised, vibrant, etc. See a list of feelings on

    💡 Behind every feeling is a need. Why am I feeling angry? What need is unmet? Dig deep to know your needs and their priority. Have someone ask you 'why' seven times. Then, be more explicit about that need.
    For example, the need for 'autonomy' can be specified as the need for 'choice' and 'independence'

    🪣 Let others know what you want, need, or what's important to you in the form of a request. A request should be something other than a demand in disguise: you are open to getting a 'no'; it is clear, specific, and preferably accompanied by your feelings and needs.
    For example, "Would you please take some responsibility?" vs. "Would you be willing to reschedule the meeting you canceled because I need clarity about my agenda?"

    Profound insight into your needs, emotions, and feelings is the basis of self-leadership. And here starts excellent communication.

    • Remember that our goal and the goal of Non-Violent Communication is not to get what we want but to make a human connection that will result in everyone getting their needs met. It's as simple and as complex as that.

      Marshall Rosenberg
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