Are you a Jackal or a Giraffe?
Today is my first day back at the office after a much needed summer holiday. I have to admit that this summer I devoted a lot of time reading different kinds of books and especially ones that involve self-improvement.
This summer I had the chance to sit down with myself and see the good things I managed to achieve and thought to myself ‘well done’ but I also analysed mistakes and behaviors that went wrong.
Reading an article by the American psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg who developed the idea of the nonviolent communication explaining that it is not what you say but how you say it, made me do some more research and come to my own conclusions.
You see Rosenberg distinguishes between speaking snappishly as the ‘language of the jackal’ whereas speaking from the heart as the ‘language of the giraffe’.
Mind you that the giraffe has the largest heart from all land animals. That is another piece of information I learned and honestly I never had a clue about. (It will be useful for my son’s questions about ‘who has the longest… the deepest… who is the strongest… etc.)
The language of the jackal makes the speaker feel superior toward the person who the speaker talks to. Very often you will hear from a ‘jackal’ phrases such as ‘That’s totally wrong because…’, ‘That mistake you did…’, ‘You are being lazy…’, ‘If you do not do as I say immediately…’ which is interpreted by the person being addressed as aggressive language. And aggression will only lead to aggression.
On the other hand, though there are people around us that choose to use the ‘giraffe language’ speaking from the heart with a positive tone in their voice. These are the people who are observing the work you are doing without giving you the feeling that they are evaluating you. These are the people who will encourage you to try even though you might make mistakes because they will be there to guide you and place you on the right track. That is why you will often hear from these people phrases such as ‘Please tell me how I can be useful to you…’, ‘It is a great idea so why don’t we discuss further the details…’, ‘Please inform me about the steps of your project so can all be on the same page…’, ‘I am here if you want to talk…’.
Sometimes it is indeed hard to be friendly at work with all the deadlines and busy moments during the day. Many times we see that people rush to blame someone instead of actually sitting down and finding out the truth.
The reality of communication and especially at work is one: we all want to be right. But as Rosenberg sets it correctly ‘it is better to resolve a dispute than trying to win one. Would you rather be right…or happy…?’
Wishing everyone who is back to work this lovely Monday morning to have a creatively busy and successful week with one question:
What would you rather be? A Jackal or a Giraffe?
The choice is yours!
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