Did you know that a giraffe has the biggest heart among all land animals? And that it has a detoxifying tongue that turns poisonous leaves into their food?

Marshall B. Rosenberg, a Clinical Psychologist, developed a language – the 'Giraffe’s Language;, also called “Non-Violent Communication' (NVC) – to help us relate with our loved ones with a big heart, and take in messages in a detoxifying way, away from unnecessary hurts.

Violence is happening every day, everywhere – in our marriages, in our parent-child relationships, at school, at workplaces, among friends and families, and within our “self”. We tend to be unaware of it, because most of the time we think of violence as a physical form. But emotional violence saturates our life – blames (from self and from others), judgements, criticisms, shame & guilt-inducing language, neglect, disrespect, disconnection, lack of acknowledgement…

The Giraffe’s Language is a simple way to express our feelings and needs (not our judgements and demands) in a gentle and non-attacking manner. It also facilitates us to be empathetic when we listen. Ultimately, it trains us to have self-compassion and self-love.

The Four Steps of Non-Violent Communication

1. Observations

Observe what is happening and describe the situation without judgement.

"I see __________. The situation is ______________"

2. Feelings

Identify and express your feelings.

"Then I feel ________"

3. Needs

Find the need responsible for your feeling.

"My need is ________ because I would like ______"

4. Requests

Create a clear, positive, actionable and achievable request.

"Can you please do this? Are you willing to do this?"


These steps appear straight-forward, but they can actually be quite tricky to be practised correctly, because we all tend to state subjective opinions as objective facts, talk about thoughts and judgement but not our honest feelings, express our expectations on others instead of our deep-down needs, and make demands rather than requests.

In my own personal marriage and in my clinical experience, adopting the Giraffe’s Language can make a huge change. If you would like to find out more about NVC, you may wish to see a family and marital counsellor.

Written by Yilam Fang, Social Worker / Adult, Family and Couples Counsellor