How to say No in Giraffe

Photography By Myles Aronowitz/Lush Photography
Photography By Myles Aronowitz/Lush Photography

Last week we were wrapping up an amazing panel discussion called Evoking the Goddess. I was the moderator and after a steady start the panel really came alive, with heart felt testimony and inspiring stories. The audience was leaning forward with good questions and insights, really adding to the inspired energy in the room.

We had planned for an end time of 9:15pm, and because one of the panelists had to be elsewhere right after the event I was feeling a sense of urgency to end on time.

I probably allowed one or two more questions than the time allowed so when another person in the audience said “Can I ask one more question?” My answer of NO! didn’t contain a whole lot of kindness and compassion.

My office mate Mike Murphy (a long time student and teacher of Non Violent Communication) was sitting right near the person who asked the question. He heard someone justifiably comment to her that my response was not particularly gentle (paraphrasing).

The next day Mike and I were talking about the event. He relayed his experience on the exchange and then dropped this gem on me.

He said, “Do you want to know how to say No in giraffe?” I knew something good was coming.

We have four foot giraffe in our office because the giraffe is the symbol of Non Violent Communication. It has a 26 lb. heart, observes from above the fray, has no natural predators etc.

“You speak from your own needs, so the answer to the question in Giraffe would be about what you as the moderator needed”


Feel the difference between these two:

Q – Can I ask another question?
A – NO!


Q – Can I ask another question?
A – I need to wrap this up now because we have panelists that have time constraints, but there will be ample time for discussion after we finish.

With NO! it can have so much collateral damage. With stating my needs, that’s it. Everyone is whole.

For more info on how to speak in Giraffe go to

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