Held on December 4, 2015: “GLC Presents: Kai Sawyer on Nonviolent Communication” was a great learning experience and it has led to the development of some wonderful new connections. So far, feedback on the event has been overwhelmingly positive.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

Kai led us through a series of exercises which helped us understand the foundations of NVC. Along the way, we came to a deeper understanding of what ‘drives” us and we learned ways we can communicate more effectively with others. We explored four basic NVC concepts:

Observations – Our experience of the world and the actions of others, as distinct from our evaluations of those experiences. Kai led an exercise in observation that highlighted just how often and habitually we include evaluations when we recount our own experiences or reflect others’.

Feelings – Emotions seem to arise in response to our experiences, but NVC encourages us to avoid the trap of thinking and communicating in a way that assumes that the actions of others cause our emotions and that others are therefore responsible for how we feel.

Needs – Kai described needs as “the energy of life” – the deep drives that move us. These needs are universal and include things such as creativity, community and compassion, among many others.As NVC explains, we are affected emotionally when our needs are met and when they are not met. Through an “empathy circle” exercise, Kai helped us identify the needs that underlay recent emotionally-charged experiences. Several participants commented that this exercise was a very powerful way of gaining self-awareness.

Requests – When we come to better understand our needs, we can begin to be clearer about what we would like to ask of others, and that clarity can enrich relationships. Kai helped us recognize how often our requests are too vague, abstract or ambiguous to be useful.



As is typical for GLC events, there was plenty of diversity! Among the 36 participants, almost half were non-Japanese and more than a dozen nationalities were represented. There was a wide range of communities represented as well, including students, artists, healthcare workers, coaches/trainers and businesspeople. Also, some participants came with a lot of experience with NVC, while others were being introduced to NVC for the first time. Kai’s approach allowed everyone to learn at their level.

New connections

Almost half of the participants were attending a GLC event for the first time. Some were members of Japan’s NVC community, or of Kai’s or 3X3 Labo’s network. Some great connections were made and we look forward to hearing these new voices at upcoming GLC events.

Among the new connections, a special shout-out to Yurie Makihara, who volunteered outstanding graphic facilitation during the workshop and has joined our leadership community. Scroll down for photos of her amazing work. Thank you, Yurie! Please contact Yurie at to find out about her Graphic Facilitation Basics workshop on Jan. 11.

Gift economy

Kai shared with us his practice of the gift economy. One element was a potluck lunch during the workshop, in which participants were invited to experience community through the sharing of food. Another was the invitation to give back to support Kai’s work, through a pay-forward donation collection at the end of the event. Read more about Kai’s approach to gift economy here:

3X3 Labo

What a great space! Welcoming, bright and versatile, we loved the facility. We also found strong alignment with the values of the organizations supporting the space and the projects based there. We want to thank 3X3 Labo for welcoming us, and we look forward to doing more to support their mission. Learn more about 3X3 Labo here:

Looking ahead

This was a new initiative for us in the GLC. It was the first time we worked with a presenter to create an event based on their offering. As we’ve had a chance to collaborate with Kai for our Future of Leadership Forums, we knew it would be worth doing, but in the end it far exceeded our expectations. It led to so many positive outcomes – learning for all, new connections, great ideas for our own events (look forward to more integration of gift economy!), and the joy of helping a fantastic presenter/facilitator live their purpose.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Who else could we support in a win-win-win (participants, the presenter, and our community) by providing a similar platform for their work?