Attributing Hostile Intentions

I like this header to name an important situation in human relationships.

When we experience (think, say, hear) that another has hostile intentions …

This is an interpretation, because we can not observe the intention of another person – their motivation, their driving need. It is inside of the other person. If we see a person standing with a knife and pulling a face, we may think he wants to attack us. But maybe the person is feeling threatened and wants to defend themselves. So is the need for protection alive or another need, we cannot even tell from what people say, since they maybe not telling the truth.

What is the effect of hearing this – in jackal?
If we hear that a person is in fear and they found as the strategy that makes them fearful our person or our country, a typical reaction would be “No, it’s not true.” – We immediately become reactive.
I connect with two major important unmet needs – respect and trust.
Why respect? – We would like to be asked what our intentions are and the answer to be respected as such.
Why trust? (We would like to be trusted for our good intentions. We want for our needs to be seen in their positive, life-serving quality – not as harming.
Such fundamental needs unmet make it hard to maintain any internal giraffe space for compassion and thus our ability to hear the beautiful needs of the other person behind their words.
If I can embrace my own unmet needs, and take care of these, then I could turn to the giraffe hearing. Otherwise … not.

How can we hear this in giraffe?
Are feeling hurt and do you need safety?
Quite likely this is alive and it is formulated in simple classical giraffe. But ….
Guessing a feeling and a need may be counterprodutive in such a situation. Living in a world where harm is possible or even our survival is at stake may not be the moment where we are ready to go into a vulnerable undefended mode. We want to be safe and how can we be safe, if we tell our feeling and our need to an enemy? So – at a minimum – before making such a classical giraffe guess – I would want to make sure the person is ready to come to a more intimate opening of the heart mode – otherwise you may get a punch in the face (sort of) if you move to that mode, without asking respectfully if that is okay.
But we can still HEAR such feelings and needs and hold them with care in silent empathy. “I guess you are needing safety and I guess you are not willing to openly say it, because you need trust that we find any way to move forward to a more healthy place.”
As long as we ourselves have unmet needs for respect and trust alive in us and as long as those needs live in jackal in us, we will simply be unable to do this. Connecting with the beauty of those needs is therefore the very first step to enable our giraffe ears towards our dialogue partner.
Big part of self-empathy should be available, breathing, going slow and with care, being aware of broken trust and connecting with the beautiful needs inside of us – even outside the situation or as a preparation for a difficult talk.

What helps to move the dialogue forward towards more understanding?
What did I do that brought you to lose trust in me and think that I have hostile intentions?
Empathy guess trying to create a common base in valuing TRUST in relationships and acknowledging their jackal thinking with acceptance, respectfully asking for more information and taking responsibility for our actions in the most universal sense.

What does not help?
Clearly it does not help to say “I have no bad intentions. Put your projector lower.”
But we might be recalling some situations in our life, where we have been confronted with a person attributing hostile intentions on us – and therefore learn something about what we may do when we are reactive. To be aware of such reactions can help us to enlarge inner space for not repeating the same, if our intention is on building a more peaceful life with more cooperation and understanding.

Below – unedited …. unfinished part of the page

I think this moment expresses that we do not feel safe and we know why. But that is not a shared knowledge.
We identified another person as the one that wants to harm us. There is no direct observation possible of the intentions of another possible. We only can infer something about their intentions from their actions. “Someone beats me, so they want to harm me.” But they may just want to protect themselves by beating you. Or they may want to harm you. Or even something else. We cannot know what the intention is based on a true observation, we can listen to what another says what it is – and even here, we can only hear their words. They could lie. We can not make a direct observation. It is out of reach.

That means that the person attributing hostile intentions – assuming they are telling their truth and not saying ignoring deliberately what their inner truth is to serve other goals – has made interpretations of a behaviour and believes this interpretation to be true.

First question is – can the person see, that intention is not an observable fact?
Second question is – can the person identify the observable facts that lead them to make the interpretation?
Third question is – can they see the difference between those two situation – interpretation vs observations?


In many case there is no trust in the relationship, when it comes to attributing hostile intentions.

So simply asking “Do you have hostile intentions?” may not work to restore my sense of safety.