Karl Steyaert

Language of Report: 
English
Year of Report: 
2010
Share My Report With: 
General Public (Including Certified Trainers and Certification Candidates)
A. Approximately how many training days did you have this year?: 
24
B. Briefly list the groups and organizations you worked with this year as a trainer.: 
Hummingbird Living School (NM), Possibility Alliance (MO), Freedom Project (WA), University of Washington (WA), Tryon Life Community (OR)
C. Approximately how many people did you offer NVC training to this year?: 
100
D. What are you celebrating about your training experiences this year? What was significant for you? What touched your heart?: 
I had a number of significant experiences of sharing NVC in 2010 that really touched me. The ones that stand out the most were two occasions where I was sharing NVC with groups of young people (in their teens and 20s), many of whom openly expressed their “dislike” of “NVC” in our opening circle of introductions, as I was just getting to meet them for the first time. They spoke of NVC as being “mechanical” and “formulaic.” I remember offering appreciation for their openness and checking to see if they wanted to communicate in ways that felt natural and effective with all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations. As the day went on, I remember using “street giraffe” with them, emphasizing the primary importance of our intentions when relating with others, as well finding our own authentic ways of using language that we enjoy and imagine will help us connect with and be understood by others. I so celebrate when I think of the people who came up to me at the end of the day and said “I’ve had really bad experiences with NVC in the past, but the way you shared it really worked for me. I’d love to learn more.” I felt such joy in finding a way to share with them that they could relate to!
E. Would you share some difficult experiences you had while training this year and how you handled them?: 
I recall a session when I was offering a session helping people use NVC to transform emotional pain. I asked for a volunteer with whom to demonstrate the process, and someone volunteered who had years of experience sharing NVC herself. A few minutes into the demonstration, she spoke of feeling quite stuck in the thoughts and feelings she was having. I did my best to stay present with and connect with what was coming up for her, both silently and verbally “holding space.” After a couple of minutes of this, she said she was not able to continue with the demonstration. I invited her to share how she was with the experience, and then shared others in the room to share as well. Meanwhile, I was also offering myself some self-empathy for my concern and my underlying desire that the session offer meaningful learning and engagement for the group, and the longing for self-acceptance as well, as well as openness to what the moment was offering. I then shared this internal process openly with the group, touching my vulnerability as tenderly as I was able. People spoke of being able to connect to the vulnerability of both the volunteer and myself, and said they valued what was happening. From there the session took a new direction, as something quite alive erupted for another participant, and we stayed with her, connecting with the waves of aliveness that now were moving from a new source.
F. How do you teach the spiritual basis of Nonviolent Communication in your workshops and training programs? : 
As they are the means that I most trust, I primarily share the spiritual basis of NVC through demonstration/embodiment and creating experiential learning experiences. Through my words, actions, and attitude, I try to embody values such as: empathic presence, compassion, authenticity, respect for the sacredness of all life, transparency, celebration of life, joyful service, power-sharing, and non-attachment to outcome. To offer some examples, my practices include offering people authentic appreciations as they arise, expressing my vulnerability when I sense it will serve connection and learning to do so, making collaborative decisions through open dialogue, and offering trainings as a gift. I also strive to create learning experiences that illuminate these values, as well as offering people a first hand experience of various understandings, including the transformational effect of empathic presence, the universality of human needs, the freedom offered by non-attachment to strategy, etc. In addition, I often reinforce this experiential learning through shared reflection, allowing underlying concepts to be made clear.
G. Please describe your social change goals...: 
I am excited about catalyzing cultural shifts and co-creating transformational communities within which people experience interdependence with all life, and support for their full aliveness, authenticity, and development. This passion takes many forms, including: co-creating intentional communities informed by NVC, Restorative Circles, Dynamic Governance (Sociocracy/Holacracy), and other forms of life-serving consciousness and tools; supporting existing communities and other organizations to integrate life-serving values, and the above-listed forms of consciousness and tools if they so choose; offering multi-day trainings that explicitly invite a high degree of co-creation, typically using an Open Space Technology format; offering all trainings and other services that I organize personally on a gift economy basis; supporting communities to create Restorative Systems and facilitating Restorative Circles, which integrate NVC consciousness and skills; and mentoring people to find their path of passionate contribution in the world. In addition, at the end of 2010, I launched a year-long learning community program that integrates NVC and supports participants to: 1) connect and act upon their moment-to-moment authenticity and personal life purpose, while holding others with care; 2) develop their capacity for and active contribution to projects which are in service to peace, justice, and/or sustainability on Earth. My long-range dream is of a world of interdependent human communities that are ecologically and socially sustainable, interwoven with thriving non-human communities of life. Specifically, I envision a world where: all people receive modeling of, and formal and informal education in, living “interdependence,” through embodied training is approaches such as NVC and Restorative Circles, as well as other forms of emotional intelligence, group process, and conflict transformation; people know their neighbors; the majority of food and goods are produced locally and organically; and energy is clean and renewable. Furthermore, in this world, local communities support all people in meeting their needs for health, nourishment, and shelter; education consists of people receiving support as they explore the gifts they are most passionate about; children are “raised by” the community; people walk or bicycle easily to work; non-human life forms thrive in protected wilderness areas; products are designed to be highly durable, non-toxic and reusable; creativity and play are woven into all life paths and forms of livelihood; mind, body and spirit are all valued as an integrated whole; and a nested holarchy of double-linked governing circles from local to global politics make consent-based decisions about ecological, political, and economic policy. As I review the vision, mission and aim of CNVC, I see the practices and vision I describe above as directly mirroring the larger purpose of CNVC, and I am grateful to have such companionship on this path!
J. Please describe your efforts to create, or join, an NVC circle or organization.: 
In 2010 I returned to the United States after nearly two years living and teaching in Asia and Europe. I settled in Seattle, Washington, specifically choosing this area because of the NVC community here and the rich opportunities to engage and contribute to NVC and Restorative Circle work here. I am deeply grateful for the care and spirit of collaboration and goodwill in the NVC community here, which includes a monthly Certified Trainer circle, as well as numerous informal connections and celebrations. In addition, I particularly celebrate regular collaboration and exchange of mutual support with fellow trainer Kathleen Macferran.
K. Summarize participants’ evaluations, and how their feedback resulted in new learning or growth for you this past year.: 
Participants’ evaluations particularly emphasized celebration of four qualities: 1) walking the talk by embodying compassion and empathy; 2) playful, experiential learning opportunities; 3) flexibility in language and form to allow for natural expression; and 4) body-based awareness and practices as a pathway to connecting with needs and NVC consciousness. I have felt a lot of internal celebration over the evaluations I received over the past year, as I am perceiving growth over the course of my path as a trainer, and a greater sense of competence and centered-ness when sharing NVC. I have particularly focused on continuing to be open to “what is happening in the moment” in training situations, even while having a plan of where we might go together.
L. What are your current growing edges or challenges as a trainer that you will be working on in the future?: 
In the past few years I have been experimenting extensively in terms of sharing various NVC topics and in a variety of forms and styles. While I have learned immensely from all of this exploration, I sense that my current learning edge involves consolidating and focusing my attention, and refining and clarifying my approach to offering specific trainings and materials. On the one hand, I realize that every training is completely unique and that it is essential for me to be present to what is emergent in the moment. At the same time, I think it would contribute to my learning and ability to contribute if I review, assess, and revise lesson plans I have used in the past, creating a clearer pattern of how and what I share. I see this approach serving in a couple of ways. First, I see it as allowing me to prepare for trainings more efficiently and effectively. Second, I see it as supporting me to produce sessions and materials that will more effectively support participants’ learning and inspiration. The key will be setting aside the time to do this integration work.
M. If you found opportunities to work with other trainers this year, please share the most meaningful experiences for you.: 
I am deeply grateful to two other trainers for their collaboration in this past year. First, NVC trainer Jack Lehman, NVC enthusiast Clayton Barker, and I offered a week-long NVC training together at the Hummingbird Community in New Mexico in July. Having met Jack at a Special Summer Session with Marshall in Switzerland in 2005, and not having offered a training together since 2006, it was great fun to be around him again and to soak up both his steady energy and willingness to be vulnerable and “not know.” I so appreciated the mutual support we gave each other as we held space for a lively training of mostly young adults, with us both offering a very full schedule of sessions each day. Thanks, Jack and Clayton! I am particularly thankful for my collaboration with Kathleen Macferran, which consisted and consists of various projects, from co-facilitating two 5-day NVC trainings in support of the Freedom Project NVC prison program, to working alongside one another to help launch a Restorative Circle project on Bainbridge Island. I am so grateful for Kathleen’s openness to and enthusiasm for collaborating with me, learning together, and going through the rough spots with dedication to care and self-responsibility. Furthermore, I love our shared commitment to creating learning communities for NVC, and I am so glad that we are continuing to work together on an ongoing basis. Thanks, Kathleen!
N. Is there anything else you would enjoy sharing with the CNVC network?: 
Thank you for your shared commitment to creating a world that works for all!
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