This is a short look at the word “why” in its use from a jackal perspective.
“Why are Russians sitting passively in their sofas, while their army is destroying Ukraine?”
The pronoun why shows an effective jackal way of invalidating all possible good reasons a person could have to do something.
In other words – the jackal says someone should not act in a certain way, they should act differently. The pressure that is sent towards the other person or group of people is meant to force them to comply with the request – in this case, to act in order to stop the Russian army from destroying Ukraine.
[Another example: Why are your political opponents dead?]
Amplifying the pressure
“I don’t understand why Russians sit passively in their sofas, while their army is destroying Ukraine.”
“I don’t understand why …” acts as an amplifier of the moralistic blame carried by the word “why”. The jackal implies that understanding for such a behaviour simply is humanly impossible.
Moving from a question, which leaves some space to the listener of the message, to a statement of fact – “this is so” adds additional blame pressure. The jackal sees an unbearable suffering that should be stopped as soon as possible.
In reality most people wear jackal ears most of the time – including ourselves. As such we habitually hear people attacking us, which in turn invites us to act in a defensive manner; our desire to cooperate lessens as soon as we hear a “You should do something, because it would be wrong not to do it”. The jackal wanted to put maximum pressure of blame to reach cooperation and support for a desired result. In reality they reached the (predictable) suicidal result.
The reply from a person with jackal ears sounds like this:
And I don’t understand why you Westerners have been sitting in your sofas for 8 years, watching passively while Ukrainian Nazis destroy peaceful citizens in Donbass – and now you all of sudden want us to do something !!
This might be a possible jackal response, among many other possibilities.
Moving to hearing such a statement with “Russian” giraffe ears now.
First – hearing a possible request in the trigger sentence. What is the positive result the person wants?
Request / Strategy
Do you want Russians to loudly demand their government, that their army stops destroying Ukraine and returns home ?
This is likely to get a positive reply and gives a sense of trust and connection, that might help in creating a willingness to open up more for the good reasons behind this request.
Guessing for a need the above strategy might fulfill.
Would you like support?
Would you like that nations resolve their differences peacefully and respectfully?
For me as a listener the advantage of this two-step approach – propose a request first, then imagine a need – is:
1) inner relaxation – instead of hearing there is something wrong with me and that I have do do something, I hear want the person wants and I keep my options open, as to whether I want or I do not want to cooperate – and
2) space – the space generated from the inner relaxation I can now use to dig a bit deeper behind the preferred strategy of the person – the needs that motivate him or her.
Other variants of using the four-steps template are possible – such as asking for an observation or guessing a feeling. Essential help – however – is some inner awareness, that no matter how angrily or demanding something is being presented to me, it is a request.
I have choice. Nobody can take it from me, it is only I that can give my choice away.
We are only responsible of the ears we choose to wear.
Transparency about our passionate truth
In passionate, violent communication we can also make a step towards more transparency.
For the above trigger sentence this might sound like so:
Russians have to immediately demand from their government to withdraw the Russian army from Ukraine and stop destroying that country.
In passionate communication we are about our own side and do not care about the other side.
If we choose to feel that way, we could also be honest to ourselves about that.
But if we care about others as well ourselves, we make requests and we engage with a No in an open and curious way – making relationship more important than anything else.