Be a healthy practitioner, by practicing in front of others, and getting honest feedback.

Circle demonstration - UWRF

Today’s tip for being a healthy restorative justice practitioner from a recent experience.  I was gently given some feedback that my style was more ‘directive’ as compared to ‘welcoming’.  This has been a little hard for me to swallow and digest.  Writing gives me the opportunity to do that, and sharing this story in the blog, may very well help all of us.

Let me admit, I’ve been called a ‘maverick’, which is not always a compliment.  It’s a sign I’m not afraid to do what it takes to get things done.  But it can mean I ‘exclude’ others along the way to ‘get it done’.  I relate it to farm girl upbringing.  If it was hungry we fed it, broke we fixed, if it needed done you do it.  But like everyone else, I am not just ‘farm-girl’ I am many different things.  (thank goodness for that).

I am reading Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer, I came across his suggestion that we all have potholes, and that our goal should be to know them so well we avoid them, vs getting stuck or derailed by them.  I am grateful now that I was provided the feedback, it perhaps speaks to my ‘maverickness-as a potential pothole’.

A fellow practitioner asked me if I was nervous, maybe she said tense.  I can’t remember.  My response was “ohh no, not at all”.  But her question lingered with me.  I started to wonder about why she asked that.  I reflected on the Circle I kept in her prescense.  I wondered if I had gotten “canned” I use the same speech at the beginning, pull from my mental library of scripts, based on certain situations.  It burned in my brain, I needed to ask about it.

In true restorative-justice-practioner-compasionate-skills, she advised me of “no right or wrong, just different”.  She acknowledged the fact I teach in Circle and work with students.  Then she gently let me know, I was more directive than welcoming.  Honestly, GULP and ‘ouch’, yet, okay . . . its how I handle this that matters.

I trust this person.  I trust this feedback.  I want to employ concepts like “respect”, “inclusiveness”, “belonging” key terms to doing restorative justice.  Yet put those terms on a continuum with directive on the left and welcoming on the right, where are they closer?  (okay I’ve been staring at the computer screen for 30 seconds trying to answer my own question).

The answer:  BALANCE.

whew-whew!  Awareness is really the first step in anything isn’t it?  I know the concepts/values I want to ‘permeate’ my work.  You get further not by saying you are a value, but by living it.  I can continue to move ahead, mindful of this now.  I can embrace the feedback and be an even better circle-keeper.  Thus the title and recomendation:

practice, your restorative practice in front of others

Whose perfect?  Growing means nurturing from the rain, leaning towards the sun.  Find people who can offer you honest, supportive and genuine feedback.  Offer it to help others, if you do it like it was given to me, its sure to help.