Return to Compassionate Communication

The Alienating Approach

Each of us has many voices inside of us. One of them is a voice that alienates us from each other and harms our communication. This is the judgmental, coercive, manipulative, violent voice. This alienating voice is tragic, because it reduces the chances the our needs and the needs of others will be met, and it leads to verbal and physical violence. So it is important to understand and identify its characteristics, so that we can refrain from identifying with it, and so that we can use compassionate communication instead.

(Moralistic) Judgments


  • “What you did now is very bad.”
  • “You are irresponsible.”
  • “Idiot!”
  • “You are wrong and I am right.”
  • “He is saying insulting things.”
  • “He is saying insulting things.”
  • “He is talking too much. (As if there is the “right amount” of talking, and the Jackal thinks he knows what it is.)”
  • “You never do it like it is supposed to be done.”

These judgments can be about others, and our mind can also pass such judgments about ourselves – the “inner educator”.

Such judgments lead to problems and violence, because if we think that the other person is wrong, then:

  • We think we need to educate him to change his ways. The problem is: he does not think he is wrong. So our judgment leads him to resistance, to fighting, to wars.
  • We think we need to punish him, because he deserves to suffer for what he’s done. We think he needs to be “taught a lesson”. This leads to violence.
  • We think we need to make him hate himself. That he needs to feel ashamed and feel guilty. But this may lead him to see himself as a “bad” person, so he will continue doing things that a “bad” person does.
  • We think there are some things that people “deserve”. Either they “deserve” to get a reward or they “deserve” to get a punishment. This is the violent way of educating people.
  • If the other person also thinks and acts out of the Jackal perspective, then he has only two choices: either surrender and act under coercion, or rebel and fight the coercion. In both options, both sides lose and pay a heavy price.

Diagnosing the other person

Diagnosing the other person’s emotions and motives, as if we really know what they are:

  • “He refuses to do what I ask of him.” This is a diagnosis. This statement does not describe the other person’s behavior in a neutral manner that allows us to understand what he actually does. Compare with: “He says he does not want to do it” – this is a neutral observation.
  • “He blames me.” Again, this is a diagnosis and does not describe what factually happens. The “blamer” may not think he is blaming but rather that he is educating and pointing our attention to the facts.
  • “He always wants to be the center of attention.”
  • “He is angry.”
  • “You are not listening to me.”
  • “You don’t care about me, because if you really loved me, you would willingly do what I ask of you.”

Renouncing personal responsibility

Giving excuses that claim I do not have free choice: “I had to do it”, “I did not have a choice”, “I was just following orders”, “It is company policy”, “Now look what you made me do!”. This way of thinking is in contradiction with taking personal responsibility for our choices and actions.

Another form of that is not taking responsibility for our emotions, and blaming other people for causing us our emotions: “It hurts me when you do that”. While the other person’s behavior may have been a trigger for our painful emotions, they emanate from our needs which are not being met, or from harmful interpretations generated by the mind, and not directly from the other person. It is a psychological manipulation, to try to convince other people that they are causing me painful emotions, thus leading them to feel shame and guilt, and to think that they must do what I want of them.


  • “You have to listen to me”, “I must prepare dinner”, “I am supposed to behave in this way”.
  • “You have a duty to serve your country.”
  • Authority knows best what is right and what is wrong for you. You have an obligation to obey authority without questioning it. E.g. Party discipline – you must vote according to how your party head says, and not according to your own understanding and conscience.
  • Threats – “You do as I tell you, or else you’ll get punished.”

And other psychological manipulations, trying to cause people to do things that go against their own needs and desires, using reproaching, blaming, ridiculing, threatening. Read more about respecting the personal sovereignty of others.

Agreeing out of harmful motives

Agreeing to someone’s request even though it goes against our own wishes and needs. Because of harmful motives such as:

  • Placation – to be perceived as “nice and considerate”.
  • To get a reward.
  • To be loved by others.
  • Fear of punishment, such as criticism or violence.
  • Fear of emotional drama of the other person if we refuse their request.
  • Shame or guilt for not doing what we’re told, or if we express our authentic wish.
  • Duty and commitment, rather than an authentic desire and choice.
  • Self criticism from our “inner educator”. E.g. “I am egotistic if I do not agree to her request.”

Thinking that the world is supposed to be like we think

  • “People are supposed to behave politely.”
  • “The decent thing would have been to let me know in advance.”

Seeing interactions as a battle

Thinking that I have to prove that I am right, instead of reaching mutual understanding and a solution that would satisfy everyone’s needs, win-win. Thinking that the only possible outcomes are: victory, when the other side loses; or losing, defeat, surrender, giving up; or a compromise, where both sides are unsatisfied.