If any of you want to master your Jackal, this is how to do it. I’ve asked people in several countries:
“What are the hardest messages for you to hear, where you really feel unsafe?”

“Why” questions top the list.
If you really want to act like a Jackal and scare people, ask “why” questions.

Marshall Rosenberg

This is a short look at the word “why” in its use from a jackal perspective.

Jackal application example:
“Why are Russians sitting passively in their sofas, while their army is destroying Ukraine?”

The pronoun why shows an effective way of invalidating all possible good reasons a person might have to act in certain ways. I am saying – “There is no way that this attitude can be understood. It is totally wrong.”

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?]

Lowering the pressure

“I don’t understand why Russians sit passively in their sofas, while their army is destroying Ukraine.”

“I don’t understand why …” in my feeling lowers the moralistic blame carried by the word “why”. By moving from a general, impersonal question, which leaves no space to the listener of the message, to a subjective statement the pressure is lessened. One person feels this way, another feels differently. When the statement is made non-subjective, i.e. a generalized WHY – the pressure is higher.

Likely jackal response

The jackal wanted to put maximum blame pressure to force cooperation from ordinary Russians or perhaps to garner sympathy for their position from another person. The (predictable) suicidal result might be that a person will not sympathize or not comply. For example a Russian might say:

And I don’t understand why you Westerners have been sitting in your sofas for 8 years, watching passively while Ukrainian Nazis kill and torture the peaceful citizens of Donbass !!

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?

Guessing a request / strategy

Do you want Russians to loudly protest against the war and demand from their government, that their army stops attacking Ukraine?

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. The more intense the subject matter becomes, the more important it gets to remember – Understanding does not mean agreement.

Guessing needs

Guess which need might be met, when you connect with the above desired strategy (or a different one). Check if it resonates in your body.

Would you like support?


Would you like that nations resolve their differences peacefully?

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.

More variants

Other variants of using the four-steps giraffe process 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.
Only I can give my giraffe choice away.
I can put on jackal ears and hear a demand.

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 that step towards more transparency 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 and communicate it straight.

But if we care about others as well ourselves, we make requests and we engage with a No in an open and curious way – giving relationship the importance it truly deserves.