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Jackal Language & Reactivity

In NVC we use the term jackal to refer to any type of thinking, language, or behavior that disconnects from feelings and needs.

Some common forms of jackal language and thinking include: judgment ("you are a loving person"), demands ("I don't care what you want, just do as I say!"), denial of responsibility ("I have to, it's my job"), and deserve ("You deserve a promotion").

You likely find yourself reacting to this kind of language in one of four ways: defend, attack, submit, or withdraw/avoid.

In defend, you offer all the good reasons you have for doing what you did.

In attack, you let the other person know how they are wrong or bad in some way.

In submit, you take on the other's jackal about you (e.g., I guess you are right I was being lazy, I am so sorry).

In withdraw you find yourself moving away, physically, emotionally, or both. You might also quickly change the subject in a conversation.

You are working to watch these reactions and the jackal language that goes with them, rather than believe them and act from them.  Once you can just, "enjoy the jackal show" without acting from it, you can take the next step and translate your jackals into feelings and needs.

In which of the four reactions, defend, attack, submit, or withdraw, do you most often find yourself?  With what body positions and movements, thoughts, and words, do you express that reaction?

This week notice when you find yourself in one of these reactions. See if you can watch the reaction without acting from it. Then start guessing the feelings and needs that are alive for you underneath the reaction (self-empathy). After connecting with your feelings and needs decide what action/request you want to make of yourself or someone else to meet your needs.

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Asking the Impossible vs. Do-able Requests


2 Responses

  1. Sep 18, 2009
    karen stern

    First, I appreciate your gems because they're discrete and bite-sizable so that I can work with it.

    Second, your presentation of the material is easy ... doesn't feel convoluted. I can try it on and consider part by part. Thank you. Great teaching style for me.

    Lastly, regarding this gem: You put the reactions so succintly. I relate to submit and withdraw and seem to repeat this behavior over and over ... perhaps a key to breaking the pattern is the concept that I have to guess the feelings and nees that are alive for me underneath the reaction ... and you are calling that process "self-empathy" ... that's a new one for me - that the process can be applied to me! I've always thought of "listening with empathy and responding with empathy" to the other ... not toward myself.

    I have to say ... I get stuck with the next step ... what action/request I want to make for myself ...

    Thank you LaShelle, Karen from Fairfax, Ca.

  2. Sep 24, 2009

    Dear Karen,

    Very glad to hear feedback about exactly how these gems are useful.

    Also celebrating your discovery of self-empathy. I am guessing that as you more consistently turn inwards to connect with your own feelings and needs the request part will become more and more clear.

    Please feel free to ask me specific questions as they come up.

Comments? Questions? I love hearing from you. Reply below or send me an email.

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