Who's Talking? Your Jackal or Giraffe?

Hello, my friends. As I write, I ponder how we’ve arrived in the last month of our year. Yet we are here. With the end of the year comes a different schedule and some out-of-your-ordinary routine interactions. Our December theme is CONNECT, where we will explore how relationships and community matter for health and wholebeing.

Do you remember when we all got assigned that first group project in elementary school? I remember instructions about the project assignment but little guidance about collaborating or communicating when we had different ideas. Most of us decided that group projects were awful and working independently was much easier. That mindset has carried over into our adult lives. 

But how is that working out for us? 

 At one of our recent presentations, Being Together: Emotional Intelligence for Healthy Relationships, a participant shared that their company had revised their yearly assessments. In the past, they had individual goals. However, some individuals achieved those goals at the detriment of the larger team.

The reality is life is a group project. Every single aspect of life involves others. We are connected whether we like it or not. Some folks are in our intimate inner circles, and we communicate with them frequently. Others we interact with less often. Most often, the primary way we navigate these relationships is with words.

On a good day, we can be master craftsmen with our words, weaving gratitude in beautifully as we share our authentic feelings and skillfully express our needs to those who matter to us. On other days, or at least for me, I feel like I am on a Slip 'N Slide. It’s not one of the rare runs where you go straight and stay on the actual thing. It’s the run where you get a great start, go about 4 feet on your belly with lots of joy, and then slide off the thing and skid another 10-15 feet off the grass.

Yeah, the result is skinned everything and a mouth full of grass. Ouch! Those fumbled conversations feel the same for me. However, they also hurt me and the other person involved in the conversation. 

In searching for how to become more savvy with my words, I began noticing people with the capacity for empathetic listening and honest expression. They shared it was their training in nonviolent communication. 

Nonviolent communications, developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, is described as a way of being in the world to serve life and create connections so that everyone’s needs can be met through natural care. It’s also referred to as a “Language of Life.”

As I have learned more, I like it and want to keep learning. I especially like this video, where Yoram introduces us to our inner jackal and giraffe and how we can learn skills to find better craft with our words for deeper connections.

I’d love to know what you think.


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