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Integrity & Responsibility

Integrity and responsibility are needs that can be hijacked into jackal* pretty quickly. Have you ever expressed a need for responsibility and had someone say back: "Are you saying I'm irresponsible?!"

Integrity

Integrity and responsibility are unique needs in that they are met or unmet relative only to your own behavior. When your need for integrity is unmet there is a mismatch between your behavior and the values you hold. For example, if you value sustainability and you buy produce from Peru, you may not be meeting your need for integrity. If you have this value and watch your friend Patrick buy produce from Peru, your unmet needs are for caring or nurturing regarding our planet.

Thus, you might say something to Patrick like:

"When I see that asparagus from Peru in your basket and I think about all the petroleum it took to get it here, I feel sad because my need for the health of our planet is up. I am wondering if you would be willing to consider other produce that is grown closer to home?"

Patrick might look confused and surprised at the unusual way you talk and your directness, but he is less likely to get defensive.

You may encounter defensiveness if instead, you said to Patrick: "When I see that asparagus from Peru in your basket and I think about all the petroleum it took to get it here, I feel frustrated because it doesn't meet my need for integrity. I am wondering if you would be willing to consider other produce that is grown closer to home?"

Patrick doesn't immediately connect to your need for integrity here because for him a different view of the same situation may meet his need for integrity. He might instead hear you judging him as someone without integrity. (Yikes, which you might be doing).

Responsibility

The need for responsibility often comes up when we hear others attributing the cause of their own behavior to a force outside of themselves. In frustration you might hear yourself say, "You are the one who created this mess and I want you to take responsibility for it!" The other person likely reacts to this with one of the four basic jackal reactions – defend, attack back, submit, or withdraw.

When you notice that you are tempted to tell someone to take responsibility, ask needs are up for you. It is from these needs that honest expression begins. Let's look at an example.

Again, the need for responsibility arises out of your relationship to your situation. For example, if you take on three projects at work and don't finish any by the time you said you would, you are not meeting your need for responsibility. If your co-worker does the same with three projects, the needs unmet for you are likely to be trust, mutuality, and teamwork.

Often in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) I have heard students state their unmet need based on an assessment of the other. This is still working in a jackal consciousness. Thus, the other person hears the assessment and reacts regardless of your syntactically perfect NVC.

Living from a NVC consciousness means continually summoning the courage to express what is most deeply important to you. If you think you are expressing a need and you don't feel nervous, vulnerable, or open, then I would make a guess that you are not expressing the feeling and need that is most alive for you.

Practice
Take a moment now to think of the last time you thought of someone as irresponsible. Think of what they did that stimulated that judgment in you. Now connect with what feeling and need that came up for you when they behaved as they did. What would you like to do or ask to meet that need for yourself?

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Not Taking It Personally


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