Restorative Justice Circles increase L-factor, likeability.

It was just a quick 2 and a half hour training session, introducing the middle school staff to concepts of Restorative Justice and Circles.  The format was in Circle.  The experience was very deep during the story telling round.  As the teachers were leaving the classroom, I was picking up the Circle Center items.  I was stopped by two people who both complimented the training session.  It was nice to hear “good job” and “great session”  I said thank you to accept the compliment.  I did feel guilty because it was really the power of the Circle that made the training so good.

Circles work at increasing your L- factor as in LIKEABILITY.  When people like you they can open up to you and learn from you.  I’ve read in other places that if you get people talking about themselves they will like you more.  Using Circles in training sessions is a way to give an experiential learning and have people connect to each other.  Another Likeability Factor article details components for growing your L.

These include being relatable, compassionate, listen & engage people,  don’t gossip & give freely.

This fits right into circle.

As you facilitate a process that is about equality and respect you become someone people want to relate with.  Explaining a talking piece helps break the ice.  People have to know something about you, a little story of your life and then they can see themselves in you.

Circles evoke compassion in the way the bring out discussion regarding values and listening.  The “WE ahead of ME” phrase that I use summarizes this, because in Circle we take turns and compassion comes from listening and listening is a component of Circle.  Everyone is given equal opportunity to engage in Circle.  Just the shape of facing each other, engages people differently.  A teacher recently shared how he was forced to behave in Circle.  He said usually he is the class clown in trainings.  Another teacher offered that she usually texts under the table during trainings and could do that with the Circle format.

The final two things that promote likeability are don’t gossip & give freely.  When I start and introduce the talking piece, I share that we speak from the heart.  Speaking from the heart is not what you “think” about someone else, it’s about your own truth and experiences.  I think that just guides people to a no gossip zone.  When sharing that the talking piece is for you to speak until understood, it also limits what you would say that could be gossip.  When I speak to the confidentiality of Circle, I start by giving  people permission to speak about the experience in general, but not about what people specifically said.  That is explaining a boundary and crossing it is gossip.  I also introduce the Circle, by sharing that we speak to the Center in Circle, rather than  respond to what someone else said.  Avoiding weigh in, advice giving, and other feedback loops is part of Circle. Giving each voice its own turn is the Circle way.

I really like the last suggestion in the increasing your” L” article, give freely.  When someone shares a deeply personal story, or gives a life experience to the Circle, it shifts.  It shifts the Circle to a deeper place of perspective and realness.  Groups are their own best climate creators, and when you have one person willing to open up, it helps others give freely as well.  Sometimes I can feel a Circle energy tighten around the person who is near tears.  I always feel glad I have taught the process when we simply hold space for that person to share.  No one jumps in to rescue, recommend or even support and encourage.  To give freely in Circle means to give without condition.  Free is free and that means that you are giving your perspective and much as giving your understanding.  So give both freely (perspective and understanding), it can increase your own L factor and it’s a good Circle practice to take with you all the time.