October 8, 2001:
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg returns to Sedona to share how to improve
relationships in your workplace and personal life, as well as learn about
education based on autonomy as well as interdependence. October 8th, 7
to 9 pm in
the Great Room. Fee $20.
October 9, 10 and 11,
A Nonviolent Communication Deepening Retreat.
Workshop with Marshall Rosenberg, International Peacemaker, Author,
Educator. Tuesday and Wednesday 9am to 9pm, Thursday 9am to 12 pm in the
Sedona Room. Limited to 30 participants. For reservations and more
information call: 928-282-5547.
Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg is Founder and Director of Educational Services
for the Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC).
Growing up in a turbulent Detroit neighborhood, Dr. Rosenberg developed a
keen interest in conflict resolution and new forms of communication that would provide peaceful alternatives to the violence he encountered. His
interest eventually led to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1961. But he was
dissatisfied with the focus on pathology he saw there, which did not help him understand the very compassionate people he had known growing up.
His subsequent study of comparative religion, and his own varied life experience, convinced him that human beings are not inherently violent and
motivated him to develop the communication process he calls Nonviolent Communication (NVC).
Dr. Rosenberg first used NVC in federally funded projects to provide mediation and communication skills training to peacefully integrate schools and other
public institutions during the 1960s. His work on these projects brought Dr. Rosenberg into contact with people in various US cities who wanted to bring his training
to their communities. To meet this need and to more effectively spread the process of NVC, he founded the
Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) in 1984.
Dr. Rosenberg's work has steadily expanding over the past 35 years and CNVC has grown into an
international nonprofit organization working toward their vision of a world where everyone's needs are met
peacefully and strengthening people's ability to compassionately connect with themselves and one another,
share resources, and resolve conflicts. He and his associates now provide training in 30 countries in North
and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. CNVC has over 100 certified trainers
worldwide offering workshops for educators, counselors, health care providers, mediators, business
managers, prison inmates and guards, police, military personnel, clergy, government officials and others.
Dr. Rosenberg has provided training and initiated peace programs in a number of war torn areas including
Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, the Middle East, Colombia, Serbia,
Croatia, and Northern Ireland. In the former Yugoslavia, the CNVC team has trained tens of thousands of
teachers and students and developed curriculum materials for use with children from kindergarten through
high school. NVC has been officially recognized by the government of Israel and is now offered in hundreds
of schools in that country. NVC is a powerful process for inspiring compassionate connection and action
that helps prevent and resolve conflicts at personal, professional, and political levels. NVC teaches us to
fully and honestly express ourselves without any blame or criticism and to empathically connect with others,
without hearing blame or criticism, even when others express themselves in anger or fear.
Dr. Rosenberg's book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion
(PuddleDancer Press, 1999) is the most complete written
presentation of this process. The book has received endorsements from many in a wide variety of fields including Deepak Chopra, John Gray, Jack Canfield,
and Vicki Robin. It has already been translated into German, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, French, and Lithuanian with a Chinese
translation in the works. He is also the author of "Mutual Education: Toward Autonomy and Interdependence"
(which he is currently revising), and other written and taped materials available
through the CNVC.
by Marshall Rosenberg
At an early age, most of us were taught to speak and think
This language is from the head. It is a way of mentally classifying people into varying shades of good and bad, right and wrong.
Ultimately it provokes defensiveness, resistance and counterattack.
Giraffe bids us to speak from the heart, to talk about what is going on for us - without judging others.
In this idiom, you give people an opportunity to say yes, although you respect no for an answer.
Giraffe is a language of requests; Jackal is a language of demands.
Human beings the world over say they want to contribute to the well-being of others, to connect and
communicate with others in loving, compassionate ways. Why then, is there so much disharmony and conflict?
Setting out to find answers, I discovered that the language many of us were taught interferes with our desire
to live in harmony with one another. At an early age, most of us were taught to speak and think jackal. This is a
moralistic classification idiom that labels people; it has a splendid vocabulary for analyzing and criticizing. Jackal
is good for telling people what's wrong with them: "Obviously, you're emotionally disturbed (rude, lazy, selfish)."
The jackal moves close to the ground. It is so preoccupied with getting its immediate needs met that it cannot
see into the future. Similarly, Jackal-thinking individuals believe that in quickly classifying or analyzing people,
they understand them. Unhappy about what's going on, a Jackal will label the people involved, saying, "He's an
idiot" or "She's bad" or "They're culturally deprived."
This language is from the head. It is a way of mentally classifying people into varying shades of good and
bad, right and wrong. Ultimately, it provokes defensiveness, resistance, and counterattack.
I also came upon a language of the heart, a form of interacting that promotes the well-being of ourselves and
other people. I call this means of communicating Giraffe. The giraffe has the largest heart of any land animal, is
tall enough to look into the future, and lives its life with gentility and strength.
Like-wise, Giraffe bids us to speak from the heart, to talk about what is going on for us - without judging others. In this idiom, you give people an
opportunity to say yes, although you respect no for an answer. Giraffe is a language of
requests; Jackal is a language of demands.
By the time I identified these two languages, I had thoroughly learned Jackal. So I set out to teach myself
Giraffe. What would I say, I wondered, if someone were doing something I found unpleasant and I wanted to
influence him to change his behavior? Giraffes, I realized, are aware that they cannot change
others. They are not even interested in changing people; rather, they are interested (italics) "in providing opportunities for them to be
willing to change." One way of providing such an opportunity, I decided, would be to approach
the other person with a message such as: "Please do this, but only if you can do it willingly - in a total absence of fear, guilt, or
shame. If you are motivated by fear, guilt, or shame, I lose."
Giraffes, I realized, are aware that they
cannot change others. They are not even interested in changing people; rather,
they are interested
in providing opportunities for them to be willing to change.
As Giraffes, we make requests in terms of what we want people to do, not what we want them to feel. All the
while, we steer clear of mandates. Nothing creates more resistance than telling people they "should" or "have to"
or "must" or "ought to" do something. These terms eliminate choice. Without the freedom to choose, life
becomes slave like. "I had to do it,superior's orders" is the response of people robbed of their free will. Prompted
by directives and injunctions, people do not take responsibility for their actions.
As time passed, I learned much more about Giraffes. For one thing, they do not make requests in the past.
They do not say, or even think, "How nice it would have been if you had cleaned the living room last night."
Instead, Giraffes state clearly what they want in the present. And they take responsibility for their feelings, aware
that their feelings are caused by their wants. If a mother is upset because her son's toys are strewn about the
living room, she will identify her feeling: anger. She will then get in touch with the underlying want that is causing
this feeling: her desire for a neat and orderly living room. She will own the anger, saying, "I feel angry because I
want the living room to be clean and instead it's a mess." Finally, she will ask for a different outcome: "I'd feel so
much better if you'd just put these toys away."
Giraffes state clearly what they want in the
present, not what they wanted in the past. And they take responsibility for their
feelings, aware that their feelings are caused by their wants. Whereas Jackals
say, "I feel angry because you... ," Giraffes will say, "I feel angry because I want ... "
As Giraffes, we know that the cause of our feelings is not another person, but rather
our own thoughts, wants, and wishes.
Whereas Jackals say, "I feel angry because you... ," Giraffes will say, "I feel angry because I want ... " As
Giraffes, we know that the cause of our feelings is not another person, but rather our own thoughts, wants, and
wishes. We become angry because of the thoughts we are having, not because of anything another person has
done to us.
Jackals, on the other hand, view others as the source of their anger. In fact, violence, whether verbal or
physical, is the result of assuming that our feelings are caused not by what is going on inside us but rather by
what is going on "out there." In response, we say things designed to hurt, punish, or blame the person whom we
imagine has hurt our feelings. Aware of this tendency, a Giraffe will conclude, "I'm angry because my
expectations have not been met."
As Giraffes we take responsibility for our feelings. At the same time, we attempt to give others an opportunity
to act in a way that will help us feel better. For example, a boy may want more respect from his father. After
getting in touch with his anger over the decisions his father has been making for him, he might say: "Please ask
me if I want a haircut before making a barbershop appointment for me." Giraffes say what they do want; rather
than what they don't want. "Stop that," "Cut it out," or "Quit that" do not inspire changed behaviors. People can't
do a "don't."
Giraffes say what they do want; rather
than what they don't want. "Stop that," "Cut it out," or "Quit that" do not
inspire changed behaviors. People can't do a "don't."
Giraffes ultimately seek a connection in which each person feels a sense of well-being and no one feels forced
into action by blame, guilt, or punishment: As such, Giraffe thinking creates harmony.
Stating a Request Clearly
Stating a request in simple Giraffe is a four-part process rooted in honesty:
In describing the situation, do so without criticizing or judging. If you have come home from a busy day and
your partner seems preoccupied with the newspaper, simply describe the situation: "When I walked in the door
after an especially trying day, you seemed busy reading." Identify your feeling: "I feel
hurt." State the reason for your feeling: "I feel hurt because I would like to feel close to you right now and instead I'm feeling disconnected
from you." Then state your request in do-able terms: "Are you willing to take time out for a hug and a few
moments of sharing?"
The same process applies if your teenager has been talking on the phone for hours and you are expecting a
call. Describe the situation: "When you have the phone tied up for so long, other calls can't come through."
Express your feeling and the reason for it: "I'm feeling frustrated because I've been expecting to hear from
someone." Then state your request: "I'd like you to bring your conversation to a close if that's all right."
In a Jackal culture, feelings and wants are severely punished. People are expected to be docile, subservient to
authority, slave like in their reactions, and alienated from their feelings and needs. In a Giraffe culture, we learn to
express our feelings, needs, and requests without passing judgment or attacking. We request, rather than demand.
And we are aware of the fine line of distinction between these two types of statements.
In Jackal, we expect other people to prove their love for us by doing what we want. As Giraffes, we may
persist in trying to persuade others, but we are not influenced by guilt. We acknowledge that we have no control
over the other person's response. And we stay in Giraffe no matter what the other person says. If she or he seems upset or tense, we switch into listening, which allows us to hear the person's feelings, needs, and wishes
(italics) without hearing any criticism of ourselves. Nor does a Giraffe simply say no; as Giraffes we state the
need that prevents us from fulfilling the request.
Nor does a Giraffe simply say no; as
Giraffes we state the need that prevents us from fulfilling the request.
to a "No"
Responding to a refusal is a four-part process rooted in empathy:
Describe the situation
Guess the other person's feeling
Guess the reason for the feeling, together with the unmet need; then let the
person verify whether you have correctly understood
Clarify the unmet need
When people say no in a nasty way, what they invariably want is to protect their autonomy. They have heard
a request as a demand and are saying, in effect, "I want to do it when I choose to do it, and not because I am
forced to do it." Sighing, sulking, or screaming can likewise reflect a desire to protect one's
freedom of choice, one's need to act from a position of willingness. If people scream at us, we do not scream back. We listen
beneath the words and hear what they are really saying - that they have a need and want to get their need
If a mother has asked her daughter to please do her chores and she has refused, the Giraffe dance may go
something like this:
Parent: Are you feeling annoyed right now because you want to do your chores at your own pace rather than
being forced to do them?
Child: Yeah, I'm sick and tired of being a slave. [Note the defensive mode, indicating a need to be listened to.]
Parent: So, you really want to do things when it feels good to do them, and you're not just avoiding them
Child: You order me around! [The child still needs to be listened to. The parent must keep guessing what the
child is saying about feelings and wants.]
Parent: So, it's frustrating when I seem to be ordering you around and you have no choice about when to do
Child: I don't want to do chores! They're stupid. If you want them done, you do them.
Parent: You really hate doing chores and you would like me to do all of them?
Child: Yeah... no... I don't know. I just don't feel like being bossed around. (The child is becoming vulnerable
and starting to open up because she's feeling heard without judgment.)
If we have been Jackalish and demanding in the past, the people close to us may need a lot of empathy at
first. So we listen and listen, reflecting back with guesses about what they are feeling and wanting, until they feel
heard and shift out of being defensive. We don't take anything personally, for we know that upset, attacking,
defensive statements are tragic expressions of unmet needs. At some point, the person's voice and body language
will indicate that a shift has occurred.
We don't take anything personally, for we know that upset, attacking,
defensive statements are tragic expressions of unmet needs.
At a meeting I attended at a mosque in a refugee camp near Jerusalem, a man suddenly stood up and cried, "Murderer!" As a Giraffe, all I heard was
"Please!" - that is, I heard the pain, the need that wasn't being met. That is where I focused my attention. After about 40 minutes of speaking, he did what most of us do when we sense
we have been accurately heard and listened to: he changed. The situation was immediately defused of all tension.
He later invited me to dinner.
In international disputes, as well as in relationship, business, classroom, and parent-child conflicts, we can
learn to hear the human being behind the message, regardless of how the message is framed. We can learn to
hear the other person's unmet needs and requests. Ultimately, listening empathically does not imply doing what
the person wants; rather, it implies showing respectful acknowledgment of the individual's inner world. As we do
that, we move from the coercive language we have been taught to the language of the heart.
Speaking from the heart is a gesture of love; giving other people an opportunity to contribute to our well-being
and to exercise generosity. Empathically receiving what is going on in others is a reciprocal gesture. Giraffes
experience love as openness and sensitivity, with no demands, criticism, or requirements to fulfill requests at
either end of a dispute. And the outcome of any dialogue ruled by love is harmony.
In the end, Jackals are simply illiterate Giraffes. Once you've learned to hear the heart behind any message,
you discover that there's nothing to fear in anything another person says. With that discovery, you are well on
your way to compassionate communication. This form of dialogue, although offering no guarantees of agreement
between disputing parties, sets the stage for negotiation, compromise, and most importantly, mutual
understanding and respect.
For more information, contact
The Center for Nonviolent Communication,
PO Box 2662, Sherman, Texas, 75091
further information please call Sedona Creative Life Center