Jackal and Giraffe – The Basics

There are only two words that you need to know to understand communication on the heart level: Jackal and Giraffe.

Giraffe is a language that makes it possible for us to connect with each other in a way that enables us to give to each other from the heart.
That means with your partner, you don’t do things because of titles that imply you are “supposed to,” “should,” “ought to,” or “must.”
You don’t give out of guilt, shame, unconsciousness, fear, obligation, duty.

It is my belief that whenever we do for one another out of that kind of energy, everybody loses.
When we receive something given out of that kind of energy, we know we are going to have to pay for it because it was done at the other person’s expense.

I’m interested in a process in which we give to each other from the heart.

How do we learn to give from the heart in such a way that giving feels like receiving?
When things are being done in a human way, I don’t think you can tell the giver from the receiver.

It’s only when we interact with each other in what I call –now here comes the second word– a Jackal manner, that giving isn’t much fun.

Telling Your Partner What Could Be Better in Giraffe

Let me suggest that you write some things down. I’m going to ask you four questions.
If you are married or partnered, then pretend that you’ll be speaking with your partner or spouse.
If you want to focus on some other relationship, pick someone you’re close to, perhaps a good friend.

Your Giraffe Partner Asks You Four Questions

  1. Would you tell me one thing that I do as your partner or friend that makes life less than wonderful for you?
  2. When I do what I do, how do you feel?
  3. I’d like you to tell me why you feel as you do in terms of your needs: “I feel as I do because I would have liked ___________ (or because I was wanting, wishing, or hoping for __________________.)”
  4. Please tell me what I can do to make your most wonderful dreams come true.

Giraffe is about clearly communicating those four things to other people at any given moment.

Of course, the situation is not always about our needs not getting met. We also say “thank you” in Giraffe and tell people how they have truly enriched our lives by telling them the first three things.

We tell them (1 ) what they’ve done to enrich us, (2) what our feelings are and (3) what needs of ours have been fulfilled by their actions.

I believe that, as human beings, there are only two things that we are basically saying: “please” and “thank you.”

The language of Giraffe is set up to make our “please” and “thank you” very clear so that people do not hear anything that gets in the way of our giving to each other from the heart.

There are primarily two forms of communication that make giving from the heart almost impossible for people.

Major Jackal 1 – Criticism

The first is anything that sounds to them like a criticism. If you have expressed the four things that you have written in Giraffe, there would be no words down there that can be heard by the other person as a criticism of them. As you see, the only time you are talking about them is in the first part where you mention their behavior. You are not criticizing them for the behavior; you are just calling that behavior to their attention. The other three parts are all about you: your feelings, your unmet needs, and your requests. If there are any words in there that can easily be heard by the other person as a criticism, then my guess is that you’ve mixed a bit of Jackal into those four ingredients.

By “criticism,” I mean attack, judgment, blame, analysis, diagnosis or anything that analyzes people from the head. If your answers are in Giraffe, there will hopefully be no words that are easy to pick up as criticism.

However, if the other person has these ears [Marshall puts on a pair of Jackal ears], they could hear criticism no matter what you say. Tonight we’ll learn how to clean up such a mess if it happens. We want to be able to speak Giraffe to anybody, including Jackals.

Major Jackal 2 – Coercion

The second block to our ability to give from the heart is any hint of coercion. As a Giraffe, you want to be able to present those four things you wrote down such that the other person receives them as a gift, an opportunity to give, not as a demand or order. There is no criticism or coercion in the Giraffe language.

When we tell others what we want, we do so in a way that communicates to them,

“Please do this only if you can do so willingly.
Please never do anything for me at your expense.
Never do anything for me where there is the least bit of fear, guilt, shame, resentment or resignation behind your motives.
Otherwise we’ll both suffer.
Please honor my request only if it comes from your heart, where it is a gift to yourself to give to me.”

Only when neither person feels like they’re losing, giving in or giving up, do both people benefit from the action.

Giraffe Expression and Giraffe Hearing

There are two parts to Giraffe: the first is the ability to say those four things and get them across to the other person without the other person hearing criticism or demand. The other part of Giraffe is to learn how to receive these four pieces of information from the other person regardless of whether they speak Jackal or Giraffe.

If the other person speaks Giraffe, our life will be a lot easier. They will say these four things with clarity, and our job will be to accurately receive them before we react.

However, if the other person speaks Jackal, then we need to put on Giraffe ears.

Giraffe ears serve as a translator: no matter what language the other person speaks.
When we have these ears on we only hear Giraffe.

For example, the other person says, “The problem with you is _____________ .”
With these ears I hear, “What I would like is ____________________ .”

I hear no judgment, criticism, attack.
With these ears on, I realize that all criticism is a pathetic expression of an unmet need — pathetic because it usually doesn’t get the person what they want, causing instead all kinds of tension and problems. With Giraffe, we skip through all that. We never hear a criticism, just unmet needs.