Monday, 28 September 2015

Compassionate Communication- Know more about “Jackal and Giraffe”

“Judgments are important, they are important part of life- it starts with our body, body makes physical judgments- what is essential or good for body is kept inside the body, rest is thrown, so judgments will always be there, what is important is to let go of moralistic judgments.”

Since last year I had been hearing that when you say something you shouldn’t judge but it took me a while to understand what is a judgment? I still have doubts, but the cloud around judgments is now a way clearer!  So I got a chance to attend another workshop on “Non violent communication- a way towards fun and joy.” I believe that it’s quite difficult for me to convey what I really feel or want while communicating through words, generally conversations start on a topic and ends up on a very violent note! Honestly most of the times I end up crying with no results L. In the introduction, the participants were divided into groups of two wherein they were invited to share their name, the needs that brought them to the workshop and anything that they would like everyone to know about them. The fun part was that each one had to introduce their partner along with his needs. Interestingly my partner was the facilitator so I was at ease. What attracted me most was the central table with cards having a need written on them- theses were universal needs we all have! So even though the group was from diverse community or even nationality, we had same needs- Whew! The environment was so soothing, calm and relaxing.

What followed next was discussion on the needs- how they are the core of everything and what we do to achieve the same are strategies. So it’s the various strategies followed by people that lead to conflicts, fight or the violent behavior. This was explained with number of examples for better clarity. We were invited to write a statement which was said to us in past that we really didn’t like hearing. The participants were invited to form concentric circles; participants of both the circles were facing each other. So the ones who were in the inside circle were to read out the statement and the one who was in outer circle were to determine the needs behind the statement. I felt weird as they were just statements- I didn’t know who said it, what was the context or the whole conversation about? The process was difficult yet important- so we were getting to know what are the needs irrespective of the face that was saying those ‘mean statements’ I was trying to take in this new concept- I was little silent ! So now I could understand that what are eyes see (observations) and what we say (evaluations) are way different. It’s this difference that play crucial role in communication.

In between facilitator demonstrated self empathy process- I was spell bound. For me, self empathy is one of the most difficult aspects; I find it easier to empathize with others than to myself. I have seen people saying how much they love themselves, I never had this feeling of love for myself, I feel there is lot to improve PS. I am super self critical! So when I shared this, other participants started giving me suggestions as to how I can tackle the same. It was slightly uncomfortable.

Post lunch break, we were invited to observe the space, focusing more on what are eyes are seeing. While discussing I was spellbound- as what seemed observation to me was another form of judgment that I never realized. I observed a man on a camel, purple flowers and a ganpati idol. Another participant’s observation to the same ganpati idol was an elephant. For few minutes I was lost, blank, I didn’t know how to react or do I really need to react! So the term “ganpati idol was also a judgment” The language that we have learnt from our childhood- from parents to family to teachers or peers- all that was taught was whether this is good or bad, we should do this or not, we never learnt the nature’s language- never paid attention to what eyes see, what ears hear!

The conversations we often do are results of the evaluations or interpretations our mind does. This was explained further by “Giraffe and Jackal language” The Judgments or evaluations is the language of Jackal (what we do in our day to day life) and observation is the language of Giraffe. So Jackal language include- when we say this is good or this is bad, not taking responsibility- like I am doing this because I was instructed to do this by my boss or my parents, thirdly- should do or shouldn’t do and where have to comes!  Interestingly, we also did empathy dance activity- a situation is tackled in a non violent communication

way- first comes the jackal language, then observations, then needs followed by feelings and then finally request, we tried it on a real life situation based on parenthood, everybody could connect to it, understanding towards NVC expanded!

On the request of one of the participant, we did self empathy process too. I realized that I haven’t spoken to myself for ages, not tried to understand what was happening to me? While doing so, I could feel that the space I am a part of is a safe space where I could actually express myself, also connect and accept myself as I am. The needs I expressed in the starting of the workshop were fulfilled. I was happy; it was a moment of celebration. Also I remembered in the beginning how we talked about 2 needs- celebration and mourning, now it was established how these needs are alive and important in one’s life. I felt lot of gratitude towards the facilitator and the fellow participants for supporting and providing a space where I could understand how I could make communication more non violent and effective with the people I don’t know to the people whom I share a relationship with. 


  1. So enjoyed reading this page here since I was not exactly sure what was going on for you during the session. Now I am spell bound :-) And pleased, especially when I read that you had not spoken to yourself for ages...

  2. Hope you meet your needs
    well expressed Purvi.
    Our Mind so habitual to react in situation and communication.
    We never thought that some will get hurt by our words.
    If everybody learn to see the needs of others, then it will take to happiness
    in everyone's Life.
    Hope you have put up the first step ahead
    Please proceed with your compassionate heart for the happiness of yours
    and everyones
    I wish u happy journey and wish u best to meet ur needs.