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Teaching Giraffe at ALF

Can Teaching Giraffe versus Jackal Language at an ALF be Helpful?

I consult at an Assisted Living Facility, Cedar Creek and developed an employee training program that is optional. We have a group of 5, where I teach the components of wellness, which is an efficient channeling of energy. The 3 circles are awareness, education and growth.  We discuss that wellness is a process, as we gain awareness; we learn and grow with practice. We apply these principles with ourselves the residents and other employees.

This group created their vision: becoming aware, educating and growing together in love. We will maintain this vision in all that we do. They changed their title to encompass their vision to being Care Partner Mentors, which means they maintain their awareness, connect to themselves and share what they notice with staff and residents. Wow! I have reminded them the importance of celebrating in all that they are and all that they are creating. A recent example was seeing the need to increase orientation with new employees about compassion, they created a program and began to use it, and “we” celebrate the gift of making what we see visible to ourselves and everyone else.

Could teaching NVC, giraffe and jackal language be useful? With curiosity, wonder and awe, I brought my giraffe and jackal puppets to class. After much giggling, laughter and asking, what are you doing now Annie, they responded with the “ah ha” moment. This group is hungry and receptive to learning a language that supports what they are trying to do!

They are creating a t-shirt, with a giraffe, a heart and possibly the vision statement.

We are discussing other components of NVC, what are doable request, identifying what “we” need.

Judy, one of the students says “the mentor class is very helpful, I find myself listening to myself and others – are we speaking giraffe or jackal language. I am using doable requests especially in the kitchen and it is working for me. Becoming aware of the giraffe and the jackal so far has been the most useful.”

I have answered my question, yes, teaching NVC, is a needed language of life. I have concerns about giraffe and jackal teaching that we don’t create duality, seeing the giraffe as “good” and the jackal as “bad”.  I am challenged with continuing to increase the awareness that the jackal in all of us is simply a messenger to be listened to, not destroyed! I do not know where else we are going, but it is a wonderful process of becoming aware, educating and growing together in love.

I love questions and ideas that enrich the world that we share; I can be reached at

I have the honor of training with Lori Woodley, and as I have said, it is a life long process of “being” authentic along with the words to express, thank you Lori!

Ann L. Bumgarner, CTRS, LUT, PCT

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