Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Jackals and Giraffes – Introduction to NVC

As a parent, one of my ideals dictates that I try to ‘do better when I know better’. One of the areas that I struggle so much with is communication. I am finding myself having less patience and less compassion for my kids when it comes to what I expect of them, particularly regarding finishing schoolwork. Some days I find myself drifting farther away from the kind of parent I strive to be, and so I am actively taking steps to move back in the direction that I want to flow.

I picked up Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and the companion workbook by Lucy Leu several years ago. I’ve read through them but not really worked the workbook in the way it recommends. This is my goal for the next few months. It’s a 13 week program, and while I may not complete it in 13 weeks, I am going to work through reading and completing the workbook exercises. I’ve asked a few friends to try it with me in a practice group, but no one’s taken me up on it yet. If you’re interested in working it too, then please join in – post your blog in the comments and what tag you’ll post your NVC group posts under and we’ll make a blog ring.

I am starting by registering with NVC Academy. It’s free and though there are classes that you can pay for, there are also several free downloadable audio courses and also some other free materials, including the Feelings and Needs Reference Guide (4 pages) and the NVC Circle of Life (the mandala at the top of the page is the CoL). I sometimes find myself disconnected from how I feel about something, and I would like to change that. I think having a list to help me identify what I feel will help. The Circle of Life wheel details the four principles of NVC and how they relate to either ‘giraffe’ language or ‘jackal’ language. The giraffe and jackal are symbols of NVC, and though I probably won’t be using them overmuch, the symbols are somewhat accurate, I think. Giraffes are gentle and jackals really aren’t and so ‘serve as a guide inviting a return’ to giraffe.

The workbook suggests clarifying what it is you hope to gain from a study of NVC. It’s a big time commitment and mental effort to go through the course, so being clear about how much of both you’re willing to invest is a good starting point.

What I hope to gain:

  • a better understanding of my own feelings and motivations
  • to communicate my feelings and needs more effectively
  • to listen and understand my family’s feelings and needs more effectively
  • to help my children communicate more effectively

I will try to keep my practice noted here and in my journal under the “NVC’ category.

So… this is going to be the beginning. I am going to read Chapter 1 and start on the Workbook’s Lesson 1 and will record thoughts and feeling throughout the week, then post a review of CH.1 next week.

Ruth Bebermeyer’s poem, Words are Windows (or They’re Walls), is in Chapter One, and a lovely way to begin:

I feel so sentenced by your words,
I feel so judged and sent away,
Before I go I’ve got to know
Is that what you mean to say?

Before I rise to my defense,
Before I speak in hurt or fear,
Before I build that wall of words,
Tell me, did I really hear?

Words are windows, or they’re walls,
They sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear,
Let the love light shine through me.

There are things I need to say,
Things that mean so much to me,
If my words don’t make me clear,
Will you help me to be free?

If I seemed to put you down,
If you felt I didn’t care,
Try to listen through my words
To the feelings that we share.




4 responses

  1. Lisa B

    Your Blog on NVC could not have come at a better time for me, I was having another one of those days that my words were not matching my intent and was feeling really frustrated with myself. I have ordered the book and workbook, I have committed to reading the book and may join you in your journey. Thank You!

    November 10, 2010 at 8:22 am

    • That’s great, Lisa! I hope that you’ll post your blog (or feel free to come here and post your thoughts in the comments if you don’t blog but would like to share).
      I hope that your day improves!
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      November 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm

  2. I’ve been dabbling with NVC for a few years now but I am really excited that a group seems to be opening up here locally for learning.

    There are a few great audio downloads on NVC Academy specifically aimed at using NVC with children.

    November 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

  3. Pingback: Giving From the Heart – NVC Week 1 « This Adventure Life

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