64 Days – Week 5

1st Monday Full room

Practice Group Curriculum

Week Five - Doing and Being Giraffe

Thoughts and Intentions for the Week

Over the past month or so we have all learned about Observation, Feelings, Needs and Requests. This week we are going to strengthen our understanding of these concepts and how they can contribute to or point the way to the "Consciousness" of NVC.

Reading and Discussion

“Would you be willing to …..?“

by Thom Bond 

An example. Let’s say my son leaves dirty dishes in the sink. So I can say, “When I see the dishes in the sink (O), I feel frustrated and annoyed (F), because I’m really needing support. (N). 

Now I want to add the information of what I would like my son to do or say.

Choice One (Action Request):

It might sound like this: “Would you be willing to do the dishes?“ 

We call this an action request, because we would like the other person to take a certain action (in this case: do the dishes).

Choice Two (Connection Request):

It might sound like this: “Could you tell me what you’re hearing me say?” or “Would you tell me what’s going on for you?”

"Doing Giraffe Vs. Being Giraffe"

IMG00194-20110907-1739 (2)

by Thom Bond

This is one of my favorite NVC distinctions because it touches on two points. One, NVC is something that you can do which means it’s a language model and two, it’s something that you can be which means it’s a consciousness. This concept is how the model (or words) of Nonviolent Communication, work. It's a way of getting access or awareness of the consciousness, and yet, does not guarantee the "consciousness."

So what do I mean when I say “consciousness? You could say in NVC consciousness we are trying to consider the needs of both parties as a means of creating a higher level of connection and understanding and compassion (on both sides). An example. Let’s say my son leaves dirty dishes in the sink. If I was going to be in the model– in other words “doing Giraffe”, I might say something like, “When I see the dishes in the sink, I feel frustrated and annoyed because I’m really needing support. Would you be willing to do the dishes?” That technically is an “O” – observation – I see the dishes in the sink, “F”- feeling – I’m frustrated, “N” - Need - support and “R” the request – “Would you be willing to do the dishes?

Is it possible there may be other then an NVC “consciousness” beneath those “NVC” words? If I were hearing these as my own words, I’m imagining I would prefer the “R” be, “Could you tell me what you’re hearing me say? or ”“Would you tell me what’s going on for you?” The first quote to see if I got my message delivered. If I got my message delivered or felt comfortable with the connection, I imagine I would want to know what he was feeling and needing. Then I'd probably say, “Could you tell me what’s going on for you?” In the second request, I’m considering what my needs are and I’m considering what the needs of the other person are (in this case, my son). In the first OFNR where the request is "would you be willing to clean up the dishes?"

Did I really think about what might be going on for him or might I just as well have said, “Damn it, would you clean up the dishes?” If there was no connection to his needs which might be (for example) rest or some peace of mind or some space or maybe time to connect with the family or friends, then this OFNR is "doing" not "being" giraffe. In the first OFNR we don’t know about the others needs. In the second OFNR where the request was “Could you tell me what’s going on for you”, it’s more likely that I’m actually in the Giraffe “consciousness” or “NVC consciousness” or “being” Giraffe and wanting to know about others needs.

For those of us who study and practice NVC, this self-connection about our “consciousness” is an ongoing work. It comes from practicing distinguishing our judgments, feeling our feelings and choosing to think about strategies based on a deeper awareness of our own needs and the needs of others. Although it is none of them, the NVC "model" shows us a way to empathic listening, self-connection and self-expression.

Discussion Question #1

1) What is the difference between a Request and Demand?

2) What is "Demand Energy?"

3) What do I do if I have translated my judgments, do perfect OFNRs and people still react as if I'm judging them?

Exercise #1 - Request or Demand


a. An NVC request is doable. 

b. An NVC request is specific. 

c. An NVC request is in the present moment not a unchangeable commitment to the future. 

d. An NVC request usually includes a need (understood or expressed).

e. An NVC request is a question we are willing to hear “no” to. Otherwise it is really a demand. In this exercise we will practice identifying NVC requests.

The following questions may or may not be NVC requests. Write down your understanding of the question (request, demand, not doable, not present, etc.) 

1. Would you be willing to keep your voice lower in the future? 

2. Would you be willing to show me that you love me? 

3. I’m just too tired to cook tonight, what do you think of cooking?

4. Would you be up for talking about this later? 

5. If you love me, would you be willing to share this expense?

Exercise #2 - Need or Strategy?



We all share the same basic human needs.

Needs-words are independent of time, place, specific persons

Needs express an inner longing or value


outside action, plan or path in order to fulfill a need 

A - Try and distinguish needs from strategies (N for need/S for strategy):

1) It is very important to me to spend half an hour jogging in the morning. (….)

2) Health is very important to me. (….)

3) I’m needing some rest and recreation. (….)

4) I’m needing to go to ….. (e.g. Italy) for a holiday. (….)

5) I’m needing to go out for dinner with you. (….)

6) I’m needing a glass of beer. (….)

7I’m needing you to tell me that you love me. (….)

8I’m needing love and appreciation. (….)

B - Draw a flower on the flipchart/or a piece of paper – write down a need inside – collect strategies for the petals with the help of the group. (Or ask participants to make their own).

translation flower

Discussion Question #2

1) Why isn't money on the needs list?

2) What's the big deal about "Universal" and Needs?

3) Can needs be like strategies to get other needs met?

Exercise #3 - Needs and Layers of Needs

In this exercise we use ours "needs assessment sheet" from earlier homework or use a feelings and needs sheet. Write down the need you would most like to have considered. Next get empathy from your partner until you can identify two or three other needs that, if met, would contribute to your primary need being met (about 10 minutes). Example: Need for order (at home) would be supported by need for communication and understanding being increased (with family or room mates). Switch.

Harvest in the large group.

Exercise 4 - Judgment and Observation (important for homework)


Making clear observations helps us to be aware of our judgments and our needs. Connecting with others free of judgment increases the chances of being heard. The following exercise helps us see how we use judgments in our language and how we might think and speak about our experience in a way that is clearer and more connected. 

This exercise is designed for the large group. In this exercise, write down something you have said (in the past or recently) where you mixed a judgment with an observation. Something like, "You've been late every night for the last month." Write down the judgment i.e. "you should be here when you say you'll be." have two or three people share their quote with the group. 

Next write down two lists. One of the feelings and another of the unmet needs beneath this judgment i.e. "frustration, stress,... autonomy, efficiency, and so on. 

Write down a judgment free version. Have two or three people share it with the group.

Discussion Question #3

  1. What is the connection between judgments and needs?
  2. What does it mean in NVC when they say we are the cause of our feelings?

Exercise #5 – Connect Non-Feeling Words to Feelings and Needs)

Take a look at the middle column list of non-feeling words. Connect these words to the feelings in the left column and the needs in the right column.

in pain























caged/boxed in 





discounted/ diminished 



dumped on 











need to matter 






to be seen 






Discussion Question #4

I still think it is possible to feel "abandoned." Why isn't that a feeling?


1) Write down three occasions during the week where you are thinking things "should" be some other way. Write down any needs that are unmet in that moment or later when you have some time.

2) Make at least one connection request per day.