Well done! You found our hidden giraffe page!
I know what you're thinking. What's with the giraffes? Here we are, in the middle of this lovely website, with its cool and modern graphics, and... suddenly there's a photo of wildlife. What gives?
Well, theoretical Interweb user, I have an answer for that. The giraffe happens to be the perfect representation of the professional neutral. Its spirit animal, if you will. I assume that the reasons are obvious.
Ah. Well, then, allow me to elucidate.
Giraffes have the largest hearts of any land animal. Neutrals, too, are known for their big hearts. Most of the thousands of people who do this work do so as volunteers, donating their time and talent to make the world a better place. Even for those of us lucky enough to do this work for pay, it's not a career in which one becomes fabulously wealthy. Others make the money; we make the difference. Day after day, we wade into other people's worst moments, resolving conflict for the greater good.
Want more? Well, then consider that giraffes are silent. Unlike your cows that moo, or your dogs that bark, or your lions that roar, your giraffes make nary a sound. Well, on occasion they may manage a small cough, not unlike the British upper classes. The fact is, even without the vocalizations of other animals, they manage to communicate just fine. Professional neutrals do the same, relying on listening and silence as their primary tools in communication. Students of posture, facial expressions, and countless other methods of communication, we understand that it's often what isn't said that speaks loudest in a conflict.
Still not satisfied? Consider the giraffe's magnificent neck. It is renowned in the animal kingdom for being the longest neck around, and many folks might look at the beast's head, waving about above the plains, and conclude that it is indeed too long. It's a reasonable conclusion, of course. Other animals manage just fine with much shorter necks, and so the giraffe's can seem ridiculous. What do they need such a silly thing for? Turns out, though, this imaginary (and terribly judgmental) observer would be wrong. A giraffe's neck is too short. When a giraffe stoops to drink, its long, long legs mean that it needs every inch of that neck to be able to lap up the water it so desperately needs. In fact, even with its amazing equipment, it has to splay its feet as widely as possible, making itself unstable and a target for predators, and it still only barely manages to get a drink. This shows what neutral are trained to understand: that everyone's needs are different. That each person is the best judge of their own lives, their own minds, and their own challenges, and that we should therefore allow them to be the experts.
But even if none of this convinces you, there's one more. My friend Peter loved giraffes, and he was one of the greatest mediators, one of the most talented trainers, and one of the wisest people that I have ever known. And if he had a thing for Giraffa tippelskirchi, you can bet he was on to something. That's as good a reason as any other why my office is full of stuffed giraffes.
~Mark W. Leuthauser