Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Here’s one good reason to blame and bitch as much as you want

Our lease won’t be renewed. By April 30, we have to move out of the home we’ve lived in for the last seven and a half years.

My mind goes into overdrive and is bombed with angry thoughts, judgments, blame, and enemy images about the whole situation. Feelings of shame volunteer as the red button for a nuclear missile, ready to destroy whatever is in the way.

Despite 11 years of practicing mindfulness, my loving-kindness for our shared humanity flies out the window like a white balloon trying to defend itself against the missile.

I bitch, blame, and complain with my younger sister. And my older sister. With my best friend. And another best friend. My neighbors. My mindfulness community.

It’s a soap opera of jackal shows, as Marshall Rosenberg would call it. He used jackal puppets to represent that part of ourselves that thinks, speaks, or acts in ways that disconnect us from our awareness of our feelings and needs, as well as the feelings and needs of others.

The jackal doesn’t have a lot of empathy for others nor for ourselves. It rather points out what’s wrong with everyone. It divides the world into good guys and bad ones, victims and perpetrators. Usually, the jackal places us in the first camp, but not always.

To symbolize empathy, Marshall Rosenberg used the giraffe. With its big heart, it has the capacity to love everyone. And its long neck helps it to see the beautiful, universal, human needs of everyone.

But sometimes jackals are all we have. If they take over the stage of our mind, we need giraffes in the audience to translate the bitching, blaming, and complaining into precious, beautiful, universal, human needs.

Fortunately, my family and friends are up for the challenge. And with each conversation, my jackals relax. They are being heard for their precious needs in their tragic expression of unmet needs. The threat of a local nuclear war dissipates.

When we see and accept the needs in our bitching, blaming, and complaining, we can make requests of ourselves or others. And requests have a higher likelihood to get people excited to meet those needs than guilt-tripping, blaming, or shaming them.

If you have your own jackal show running on Broadway, you want to sell tickets to a giraffe audience that can translate your script about what’s wrong with everyone into a script about what would make your life more beautiful.

But pay attention! Some jackals dress up like giraffes and instead of offering empathy, they offer sympathy, one-upping, commiserating, consoling, or advising.

That’s why we start each Leadership Circle for Nonprofit Leaders by agreeing that we bring giraffes to empathize.

After all, we don’t want to blow up our theater by feeding angry thoughts, judgments, blame, enemy images, and shame till they explode.

In the first week of May, we start a new circle. Six bi-weekly sessions, max eight participants.

Schedule your free discovery session to check that your giraffes follow our dress code.

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder of Nonviolent Communication. Watch this video in which he explains the jackal show.

Our lease won’t be renewed. By April 30, we have to move out of the home we’ve lived in for the last seven and a half years.

My mind goes into overdrive and is bombed with angry thoughts, judgments, blame, and enemy images about the whole situation. Feelings of shame volunteer as the red button for a nuclear missile, ready to destroy whatever is in the way.

Despite 11 years of practicing mindfulness, my loving-kindness for our shared humanity flies out the window like a white balloon trying to defend itself against the missile.

I bitch, blame, and complain with my younger sister. And my older sister. With my best friend. And another best friend. My neighbors. My mindfulness community.

It’s a soap opera of jackal shows, as Marshall Rosenberg would call it. He used jackal puppets to represent that part of ourselves that thinks, speaks, or acts in ways that disconnect us from our awareness of our feelings and needs, as well as the feelings and needs of others.

The jackal doesn’t have a lot of empathy for others nor for ourselves. It rather points out what’s wrong with everyone. It divides the world into good guys and bad ones, victims and perpetrators. Usually, the jackal places us in the first camp, but not always.

To symbolize empathy, Marshall Rosenberg used the giraffe. With its big heart, it has the capacity to love everyone. And its long neck helps it to see the beautiful, universal, human needs of everyone.

But sometimes jackals are all we have. If they take over the stage of our mind, we need giraffes in the audience to translate the bitching, blaming, and complaining into precious, beautiful, universal, human needs.

Fortunately, my family and friends are up for the challenge. And with each conversation, my jackals relax. They are being heard for their precious needs in their tragic expression of unmet needs. The threat of a local nuclear war dissipates.

When we see and accept the needs in our bitching, blaming, and complaining, we can make requests of ourselves or others. And requests have a higher likelihood to get people excited to meet those needs than guilt-tripping, blaming, or shaming them.

If you have your own jackal show running on Broadway, you want to sell tickets to a giraffe audience that can translate your script about what’s wrong with everyone into a script about what would make your life more beautiful.

But pay attention! Some jackals dress up like giraffes and instead of offering empathy, they offer sympathy, one-upping, commiserating, consoling, or advising.

That’s why we start each Leadership Circle for Nonprofit Leaders by agreeing that we bring giraffes to empathize.

After all, we don’t want to blow up our theater by feeding angry thoughts, judgments, blame, enemy images, and shame till they explode.

In the first week of May, we start a new circle. Six bi-weekly sessions, max eight participants.

Schedule your free discovery session to check that your giraffes follow our dress code.

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder of Nonviolent Communication. Watch this video in which he explains the jackal show.

Our lease won’t be renewed. By April 30, we have to move out of the home we’ve lived in for the last seven and a half years.

My mind goes into overdrive and is bombed with angry thoughts, judgments, blame, and enemy images about the whole situation. Feelings of shame volunteer as the red button for a nuclear missile, ready to destroy whatever is in the way.

Despite 11 years of practicing mindfulness, my loving-kindness for our shared humanity flies out the window like a white balloon trying to defend itself against the missile.

I bitch, blame, and complain with my younger sister. And my older sister. With my best friend. And another best friend. My neighbors. My mindfulness community.

It’s a soap opera of jackal shows, as Marshall Rosenberg would call it. He used jackal puppets to represent that part of ourselves that thinks, speaks, or acts in ways that disconnect us from our awareness of our feelings and needs, as well as the feelings and needs of others.

The jackal doesn’t have a lot of empathy for others nor for ourselves. It rather points out what’s wrong with everyone. It divides the world into good guys and bad ones, victims and perpetrators. Usually, the jackal places us in the first camp, but not always.

To symbolize empathy, Marshall Rosenberg used the giraffe. With its big heart, it has the capacity to love everyone. And its long neck helps it to see the beautiful, universal, human needs of everyone.

But sometimes jackals are all we have. If they take over the stage of our mind, we need giraffes in the audience to translate the bitching, blaming, and complaining into precious, beautiful, universal, human needs.

Fortunately, my family and friends are up for the challenge. And with each conversation, my jackals relax. They are being heard for their precious needs in their tragic expression of unmet needs. The threat of a local nuclear war dissipates.

When we see and accept the needs in our bitching, blaming, and complaining, we can make requests of ourselves or others. And requests have a higher likelihood to get people excited to meet those needs than guilt-tripping, blaming, or shaming them.

If you have your own jackal show running on Broadway, you want to sell tickets to a giraffe audience that can translate your script about what’s wrong with everyone into a script about what would make your life more beautiful.

But pay attention! Some jackals dress up like giraffes and instead of offering empathy, they offer sympathy, one-upping, commiserating, consoling, or advising.

That’s why we start each Leadership Circle for Nonprofit Leaders by agreeing that we bring giraffes to empathize.

After all, we don’t want to blow up our theater by feeding angry thoughts, judgments, blame, enemy images, and shame till they explode.

In the first week of May, we start a new circle. Six bi-weekly sessions, max eight participants.

Schedule your free discovery session to check that your giraffes follow our dress code.

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder of Nonviolent Communication. Watch this video in which he explains the jackal show.

Our lease won’t be renewed. By April 30, we have to move out of the home we’ve lived in for the last seven and a half years.

My mind goes into overdrive and is bombed with angry thoughts, judgments, blame, and enemy images about the whole situation. Feelings of shame volunteer as the red button for a nuclear missile, ready to destroy whatever is in the way.

Despite 11 years of practicing mindfulness, my loving-kindness for our shared humanity flies out the window like a white balloon trying to defend itself against the missile.

I bitch, blame, and complain with my younger sister. And my older sister. With my best friend. And another best friend. My neighbors. My mindfulness community.

It’s a soap opera of jackal shows, as Marshall Rosenberg would call it. He used jackal puppets to represent that part of ourselves that thinks, speaks, or acts in ways that disconnect us from our awareness of our feelings and needs, as well as the feelings and needs of others.

The jackal doesn’t have a lot of empathy for others nor for ourselves. It rather points out what’s wrong with everyone. It divides the world into good guys and bad ones, victims and perpetrators. Usually, the jackal places us in the first camp, but not always.

To symbolize empathy, Marshall Rosenberg used the giraffe. With its big heart, it has the capacity to love everyone. And its long neck helps it to see the beautiful, universal, human needs of everyone.

But sometimes jackals are all we have. If they take over the stage of our mind, we need giraffes in the audience to translate the bitching, blaming, and complaining into precious, beautiful, universal, human needs.

Fortunately, my family and friends are up for the challenge. And with each conversation, my jackals relax. They are being heard for their precious needs in their tragic expression of unmet needs. The threat of a local nuclear war dissipates.

When we see and accept the needs in our bitching, blaming, and complaining, we can make requests of ourselves or others. And requests have a higher likelihood to get people excited to meet those needs than guilt-tripping, blaming, or shaming them.

If you have your own jackal show running on Broadway, you want to sell tickets to a giraffe audience that can translate your script about what’s wrong with everyone into a script about what would make your life more beautiful.

But pay attention! Some jackals dress up like giraffes and instead of offering empathy, they offer sympathy, one-upping, commiserating, consoling, or advising.

That’s why we start each Leadership Circle for Nonprofit Leaders by agreeing that we bring giraffes to empathize.

After all, we don’t want to blow up our theater by feeding angry thoughts, judgments, blame, enemy images, and shame till they explode.

In the first week of May, we start a new circle. Six bi-weekly sessions, max eight participants.

Schedule your free discovery session to check that your giraffes follow our dress code.

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder of Nonviolent Communication. Watch this video in which he explains the jackal show.

Our lease won’t be renewed. By April 30, we have to move out of the home we’ve lived in for the last seven and a half years.

My mind goes into overdrive and is bombed with angry thoughts, judgments, blame, and enemy images about the whole situation. Feelings of shame volunteer as the red button for a nuclear missile, ready to destroy whatever is in the way.

Despite 11 years of practicing mindfulness, my loving-kindness for our shared humanity flies out the window like a white balloon trying to defend itself against the missile.

I bitch, blame, and complain with my younger sister. And my older sister. With my best friend. And another best friend. My neighbors. My mindfulness community.

It’s a soap opera of jackal shows, as Marshall Rosenberg would call it. He used jackal puppets to represent that part of ourselves that thinks, speaks, or acts in ways that disconnect us from our awareness of our feelings and needs, as well as the feelings and needs of others.

The jackal doesn’t have a lot of empathy for others nor for ourselves. It rather points out what’s wrong with everyone. It divides the world into good guys and bad ones, victims and perpetrators. Usually, the jackal places us in the first camp, but not always.

To symbolize empathy, Marshall Rosenberg used the giraffe. With its big heart, it has the capacity to love everyone. And its long neck helps it to see the beautiful, universal, human needs of everyone.

But sometimes jackals are all we have. If they take over the stage of our mind, we need giraffes in the audience to translate the bitching, blaming, and complaining into precious, beautiful, universal, human needs.

Fortunately, my family and friends are up for the challenge. And with each conversation, my jackals relax. They are being heard for their precious needs in their tragic expression of unmet needs. The threat of a local nuclear war dissipates.

When we see and accept the needs in our bitching, blaming, and complaining, we can make requests of ourselves or others. And requests have a higher likelihood to get people excited to meet those needs than guilt-tripping, blaming, or shaming them.

If you have your own jackal show running on Broadway, you want to sell tickets to a giraffe audience that can translate your script about what’s wrong with everyone into a script about what would make your life more beautiful.

But pay attention! Some jackals dress up like giraffes and instead of offering empathy, they offer sympathy, one-upping, commiserating, consoling, or advising.

That’s why we start each Leadership Circle for Nonprofit Leaders by agreeing that we bring giraffes to empathize.

After all, we don’t want to blow up our theater by feeding angry thoughts, judgments, blame, enemy images, and shame till they explode.

In the first week of May, we start a new circle. Six bi-weekly sessions, max eight participants.

Schedule your free discovery session to check that your giraffes follow our dress code.

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder of Nonviolent Communication. Watch this video in which he explains the jackal show.

Our lease won’t be renewed. By April 30, we have to move out of the home we’ve lived in for the last seven and a half years.

My mind goes into overdrive and is bombed with angry thoughts, judgments, blame, and enemy images about the whole situation. Feelings of shame volunteer as the red button for a nuclear missile, ready to destroy whatever is in the way.

Despite 11 years of practicing mindfulness, my loving-kindness for our shared humanity flies out the window like a white balloon trying to defend itself against the missile.

I bitch, blame, and complain with my younger sister. And my older sister. With my best friend. And another best friend. My neighbors. My mindfulness community.

It’s a soap opera of jackal shows, as Marshall Rosenberg would call it. He used jackal puppets to represent that part of ourselves that thinks, speaks, or acts in ways that disconnect us from our awareness of our feelings and needs, as well as the feelings and needs of others.

The jackal doesn’t have a lot of empathy for others nor for ourselves. It rather points out what’s wrong with everyone. It divides the world into good guys and bad ones, victims and perpetrators. Usually, the jackal places us in the first camp, but not always.

To symbolize empathy, Marshall Rosenberg used the giraffe. With its big heart, it has the capacity to love everyone. And its long neck helps it to see the beautiful, universal, human needs of everyone.

But sometimes jackals are all we have. If they take over the stage of our mind, we need giraffes in the audience to translate the bitching, blaming, and complaining into precious, beautiful, universal, human needs.

Fortunately, my family and friends are up for the challenge. And with each conversation, my jackals relax. They are being heard for their precious needs in their tragic expression of unmet needs. The threat of a local nuclear war dissipates.

When we see and accept the needs in our bitching, blaming, and complaining, we can make requests of ourselves or others. And requests have a higher likelihood to get people excited to meet those needs than guilt-tripping, blaming, or shaming them.

If you have your own jackal show running on Broadway, you want to sell tickets to a giraffe audience that can translate your script about what’s wrong with everyone into a script about what would make your life more beautiful.

But pay attention! Some jackals dress up like giraffes and instead of offering empathy, they offer sympathy, one-upping, commiserating, consoling, or advising.

That’s why we start each Leadership Circle for Nonprofit Leaders by agreeing that we bring giraffes to empathize.

After all, we don’t want to blow up our theater by feeding angry thoughts, judgments, blame, enemy images, and shame till they explode.

In the first week of May, we start a new circle. Six bi-weekly sessions, max eight participants.

Schedule your free discovery session to check that your giraffes follow our dress code.

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder of Nonviolent Communication. Watch this video in which he explains the jackal show.

How my toilet visit at La Palma can help you with conflict resolution

Habits are hard to break. And when they have been cultivated over the years, your body will execute those habits without your mind ever having to think about it.

Driving our car is an example. Brushing our teeth. Chopping the veggies. And throwing toilet paper in the toilet bowl after wiping our butt.

Usually, that’s not a problem. But here on La Palma, it is. The sewer system can’t handle more than a few sheets a day. In each and every bathroom, there is a friendly reminder to throw your paper in the wastebasket.

Of course, I’m all for keeping the sewer system unclogged, so I am adamant about complying with the request.

Unfortunately, I fail more than 70% of the time. No matter how mindful I’m breathing while on the potty, how much I use the tools for building new habits, and bang myself on the head when I fail: my hand automatically drops the paper in the loo.

Since I’m not willing to drag them out, I regretfully have to flush them away, keeping my fingers crossed that the sewer system doesn’t spill over on my bathroom floor.

As yucky as all of this might sound, it can be a good image to keep in mind, the next time you react to anger and criticism.

If building new toilet habits is hard, building new conflict resolution skills is even harder because our needs for respect, self-worth, and emotional safety are on the line.

We need to pay attention to the friendly reminders for mindfulness, or we end up seeing those needs float in a yucky interaction.

Worse, the communication channel gets clogged with enemy images and future interactions will be contaminated with the residues of this one.

There is a better response: empathy. When we listen to the precious needs behind the tragic expression of unmet needs, we can drop our judgments and evaluations and decrease the risk that we have to get down on our hands and knees to clean up the distasteful remains of our relationship.

How important would that be to you? Which relationships could benefit from your ability to stop your habitual reflex to conflict and instead choose a mindful response? How would your life be different?

If you imagine life would be yummier, you might enjoy signing up for my free webinar “Mindful Conflict Resolution”.

Not only will you hear how to empathize skillfully but you will also get two other tools to help to transform conflict into collaboration. Make sure you reserve your spot: I only have a few left.

This is what Charlie Rice says about the webinar:

“I appreciated that you kept the discussions pretty brief and spent most of the time going over your material. These strategies will really help me going forward and it is so nice to have a framework to practice.” – Charlie Rice, Austin

Sign up here.

The one thing you can do when you have lied

“Did you see the email I sent you? I was wondering if you were back from the Netherlands?” My best friend invited me for lunch. We are enjoying a chia bowl.

I had seen it. Two days ago. But I felt too discombobulated to reply after my traveling. And I didn’t want to answer without offering a time-slot to get together.

Don’t ask me why. I could have just written: “Great hearing from you! Yes, I am back and I would love to get together.” But I didn’t.

Her question comes as a surprise. I feel ashamed that I had been unresponsive. In a split second, I hear myself say: “No, I haven’t.”

As soon as I do, I regret it. And I feel stuck. I want to be honest and I’m afraid that admitting my lie would spoil our delightful lunch.

Coming home, I realize that I want to tell her the truth to support my self-respect and integrity. I also dread doing it. It’s like eating a rotten sandwich and knowing you will feel horrible. The difference is that I trust that she will empathize.

Fortunately, I have enough practice with Nonviolent Communication to know that the dread is a messenger of precious, universal, human needs. I ask David, my husband, and Saskia, my sister, to help me find those needs.

Their empathy helps. I see how much I care for her and how much I want to be seen as a caring and responsive friend.

It takes some deep breathing to overcome the fear of being found out as a person with no integrity. When I call her, I tell her that I had read the email when she asked about it. She laughs: she has been in similar situations.

After I hang up, I have grown an inch. I choose my values over my fears. I feel super proud of myself.

I am not sure that I could have done it without my supportive community. They always help. They encourage me to grow into who I want to be and accept me even when I carry shame for my actions.

You might benefit from such a community too. Whether you want to be honest, be an advocate for racial justice, lose weight, apply for a new job, or work on your marriage.

A community helps you clarify your values and aspirations, encourage you to face your fears and act with integrity anyway, brainstorm to find strategies that help you live your purpose, and celebrate your success and oops as learning opportunities.

The October 5, 2021 I’m starting a new coaching group: Pledj. It’s an acronym of Peace, Love, Equanimity, Delight, and Joy. This is for you, if you want to live in integrity and work on your aspirations.

Some details:

  • Six bi-weekly group meetings on Zoom
  • You will be paired with an empathy buddy for the in-between weeks
  • Topics like failing and learning, feelings and needs, emotional liberation, shame and self-worth, autonomy, and purpose.
  • Max six participants, one spot left
  • $438 in full or monthly payments of $75

Bonus: you will have access to a virtual platform so you can stay in touch with each other.


Email me

The one thing you can do when you lied

“Did you see the email I sent you? I was wondering if you were back from the Netherlands?” My best friend invited me for lunch. We are enjoying a chia bowl.

I had seen it. Two days ago. But I felt too discombobulated to reply after my traveling. And I didn’t want to answer without offering a time slot to get together.

Don’t ask me why. I could have just written: “Great hearing from you! Yes, I am back and I would love to get together.” But I didn’t.

Her question comes as a surprise. I feel ashamed that I had been unresponsive. In a split second, I hear myself say: “No, I haven’t.”

As soon as I do, I regret it. And I feel stuck. I want to be honest and I’m afraid that admitting my lie would spoil our delightful lunch.

Coming home, I realize that I want to tell her the truth to support my self-respect and integrity. I also dread doing it. It’s like eating a rotten sandwich and knowing you will feel horrible. The difference is that I trust that she will empathize.

Fortunately, I have enough practice with Nonviolent Communication to know that the dread is a messenger of precious, universal, human needs. I ask David, my husband, and Saskia, my sister, to help me find those needs.

Their empathy helps. I see how much I care for her and how much I want to be seen as a caring and responsive friend.

It takes some deep breathing to overcome the fear of being found out as a person with no integrity. When I call her, I tell her that I had read the email when she asked about it. She laughs: she has been in similar situations.

After I hang up, I have grown an inch. I choose my values over my fears. I feel super proud of myself.

I am not sure that I could have done it without my supportive community. They always help. They encourage me to grow into who I want to be and accept me even when I carry shame for my actions.

You might benefit from such a community too. Whether you want to be honest, be an advocate for racial justice, lose weight, apply for a new job, or work on your marriage.

A community helps you clarify your values and aspirations, encourages you to face your fears and act with integrity anyway, brainstorm to find strategies that help you live your purpose, and celebrate your success and oops as learning opportunities.

The second week of September I’m starting a new coaching group: Pledj. It’s an acronym for Peace, Love, Equanimity, Delight, and Joy. This is for you if you want to live in integrity and work on your aspirations.

Some details:

  • Six bi-weekly group meetings on Zoom
  • You will be paired with an empathy buddy for the in-between weeks
  • Topics like failing and learning, feelings and needs, emotional liberation, shame and self-worth, autonomy, and purpose.
  • Max six participants, one spot left
  • $438 in full or monthly payments of $75

Bonus: you will have access to a virtual platform so you can stay in touch with each other.

Leave a comment if you have an interest in joining.

Do you keep pushing things to the backburner?

Our landlord is coming over to walk through the house and yard to see what needs repair after the winter storm.

We haven’t had visitors for a year. The house has experienced a “Covid effect”. Items are scattered within easy reach, the living spaces are clean enough for our standards, and the off-camera parts are less presentable.

Just like Zoom-calls: our hair is combed, teeth are flossed, and our shirt looks clean, but we might be a little long between showers, our favorite sweatpants have holes, and the back of our hair isn’t trimmed.

In the few days before his visit, everything comes to a halt and we begin a decluttering and cleaning frenzy. By the time the landlord arrives, it’s as shiny as if Obama himself is coming over for a photoshoot.

We feel utterly satisfied with the result.

But not so much with the process.

If only we had listened to KonMari and gave everything away that didn’t spark joy. If only we had kept a regular schedule for cleaning and tidying. If only we had kept our backlog of chores in check.

If only, if only, if only.

In the busyness of everyday events and without the impetus of visitors, we were absorbed with what was right in front of us. The urgent distracted us from the less urgent, although equally important: order, harmony, and peace of mind.

I wonder if I am the only one who postpones the less urgent in favor of the urgent because we don’t see the price we pay for the postponement?

If you want to make sure that the important things get done with less stress, a coaching package might be your thing.

Some clients tell me a weekly review of their circumstances and choices is the best thing they have done for themselves in a long time.

Like having a visitor come over, the scheduled sessions of a package help you become clear about your intention, values, and priorities. As a result, you know what to ask for, of yourself or someone else, to accomplish your goals, and when to relax and celebrate you moving toward them.

This is what Maureen van den Akker, Senior Copywriter at Food Cabinet, said about working with me:

“What I really liked was that you just listen very well. And even though I sometimes found your questions difficult, I could somehow find out more about myself. And maybe start to appreciate myself more in the sense that I am a nicer person than I think I am. I got more out of it than I thought before we started. Those few conversations really took me a step further.

“The main result of working with you is seeing that I am not looking for something that is somewhere far on the horizon, the woman I want to be: confident and comfortable to be herself, who has the courage to be vulnerable. That she is not somewhere far away, but that it is somewhere in me and that it depends more on the circumstances whether she comes out.

“And that I can influence those circumstances. And maybe I can train it too, by taking a step every now and then. Looking for a situation where I feel vulnerable and then noticing that nothing bad happens after all. Maybe that’s how the self-confident me can come up more often.”

Do you want to talk about how this might work?

  • Email me
  • Or call me at 512-589-0482
  • No strings attached, I always like talking to you even if you end up not working with me.

P.S. Current packages have 6 sessions to be scheduled within 8 weeks for $840. Only sign up for it, if you believe the value you will get is worth 5 times your money.

P.S. The idea of the urgent and important comes from general Eisenhower.