I recently finished a two day SCPI program in Talloires, France, and was genuinely happy to see the enthusiasm an experienced group of mostly French mediators had in learning the skill of self reflection. As one participant expressed to me, “For me, I had to first recognize that as a mediator I have feelings. Second I had to identify the particular feelings. And third, I have to figure out how to use the feelings to help the parties.”
What was most interesting to me was to once again understand the barriers the participants had to overcome to see inside themselves. The reluctance of European professionals to reveal to themselves and each other their feelings and relevant personal reactions to their clients has a long and storied history and was challenging to unpack, but once understood and shared by the group, it allowed us to open doors that had a particular poignancy and relevance for me. With my latest book containing so much of my own personal life, I am trying to support our profession to legitimize the value of personal insight to make a difference in our work.
What is increasingly clear to me is how important it is for people to feel supported and to provide support to others to keep this inquiry legitimized and alive, because our mainstream education and professional norms don’t support this at all. I hope that my new book Inside Out: How Conflict Professionals can use Self Reflection to help their clients will also help. Vive la France for joining in this effort.