Observing in the context of restorative dialogue is closely linked to awareness and listening in that we want to stay with observing and not get diverted into making judgements and triggering trains of thought that take us away from being present in the moment. Nonviolent communication (NVC) offers a technique to help with this by always consciously separating what is observed and our evaluation. If we can do this maybe we can stick with the observation and suspend our evaluation until a later time.

Providing feedback

As a participant or facilitator in a restorative dialogue it can be useful to give feedback. A difficulty in this area is that people do this by making judgements and then telling people what they did, or didn't do, or telling them what they should have done. This does not help! There is also a danger of taking what has been observed and making it a generalisation.

A much better approach is to focus on what you observed. This might be what an individual did and the effect you observed in yourself and others. NVC offers a number of specific situations where it is more productive to separate out observations and evaluations.

Observation and evaluation Observation separated from evaluation
Mary never contributes to the dialogueWe have not heard from Mary so far
Jim is angryWhen Jim speaks, it appears to me that he is angry
Mary isn't listening to JimWhen Jim speaks I notice that Mary turns away
Jim talks too muchWhen Jim speaks, he talks for at least 10 minutes

Introduction | Listening | Asking Questions | Observing | Awareness | Using helpful language | Reflection

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