One of my great honours in the last few years was being asked to join a collective of women all dedicated to bringing a healthy, holistic and restorative approach to conflict in the workplace.  Collaborating to create Restorative Solutions has brought me many blessings, including keeping current with restorative practices.  Most recently, a mutual colleague, Kari Boyle, sent along a 40 minute lecture on a mediator’s point of view on traditional grievance and dispute resolution processes in the workplace.

Watching this video filled me with inspiration and joy.  Here’s my list of joys so you don’t have to watch the video if you don’t have the 40 minutes!

  1. The speaker, David Liddle, entitled his talk “The Resolution Revolution.”That title already had me excited to think that promoting resolutions are a revolution. In this time of increasing fear, promoting dialogue, empathy and sticking it out to resolution is music to my ears!
  2. Liddle is bold enough to suggest that we need a new vision for how to obtain justice in the workplace. Since two of my colleagues in Restorative Solutions are lawyers, and the third has her Masters in Law from Osgoode, we have spent a lot of time talking about notions of justice and how they translate to the workplace.This is the heart of a “restorative” approach to justice – at work or in our courts or in our lives.Our traditional ideas of justice have to do with replacing harm with harm.We evolved from hurting each other indiscriminately when we felt hurt, to a measured hurting (the original meaning of biblical “an eye for an eye” meant – “let’s just keep it to an eye”). It’s time to move further along our developmental continuum, and to see the response to pain as understanding, dialogue, accountability and responsibility and, finally, restoration back to community and connection. These are big ideas and ones that underpin all of our ideas of justice.
  3. Liddle also speaks about our usual ideas of justice involve determining who is to blame. Yet, as we all know, blame causes further pain and, often, counterattack. His solution is in line with what makes my heart sing and pulls me towards my colleagues at Restorative Solutions.  He suggests “institutional listening” in workplaces – encouraging ideas of circles for example, like the kind our children learn in kindergarten.  He suggests “safe spaces where can go resolve your issues.”  He sees a “massive empathy deficit” in organizations and proposes intentionally creating a “culture of resolution” based on five core values:
    1. Fairness
    2. Mutual Respect (being valued)
    3. Empathy
    4. Dignity
    5. Dialogue

What is your response to harm?  What are the values you carry you want to act from?  What is your idea of justice?