Reflection is part of the experiential learning cycle and an effective way to develop your ability to handle difficult conversations.

How you reflect is a personal thing and there is no one right way to do it. It can be simply considering something that happened, sharing with another person, writing about it, or using drawing. At its most basic level reflecting involves asking yourself two main questions about an experience;

  • What stood out for me?
  • What will I do differently next time?

A reflective process

The two basic questions can be extended to provide a process for reflection. The common questions that make up the process are;

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time?
  • What did you feel at the time?
  • What do you think now?
  • How do you feel now?
  • What caused the situation to happen?
  • What have you learned?
  • What will you do differently next time?

General reflection questions

  • What happened?
  • How did you feel about what happened?
  • What did you notice about yourself?
  • How did you react or respond?
  • What caused you to react or respond in a particular way?
  • What did you notice about how other people reacted or responded?
  • What were your options to respond?
  • What might have been the consequences of your response?
  • What have you learnt?
  • How might you respond to the same situation in future?
  • Exactly what might you say?
  • How could you rehearse this situation?

Reflective questions for restorative dialogue

The general reflective questions above can be used for any stage, or any aspect, of the restorative dialogue process. The following questions are more specific to the restorative dialogue process.

Handling the trigger

  • What was the trigger?
  • What were you aware of happening in your body and mind?
  • What was your reaction?
  • How did you respond?
  • What was the effect of your reaction or response?
  • What were your options for responding?
  • How might you respond to the same situation in future?
  • Exactly what might you say?
  • How could you rehearse this situation?

1. Preparation

  • How did you prepare for the dialogue?
  • How did others respond to the preparation?
  • What came out of the preparation?
  • What might you do differently next time?
  • How willing were people to take part?
  • How did you approach those who were less willing?
  • What would you do differently next time?

2. Dialogue

  • How was the dialogue done?
  • How were people welcomed?
  • How were the introductions done?
  • How did people contribute to the dialogue?
  • How safe did people feel in the dialogue space?
  • How was the speaking time shared?
  • Who contributed less and how were they encouraged to engage more?
  • What guidelines were used?
  • How well were the guidelines followed?
  • How did you deal with people not following the guidelines?
  • If a talking piece was used, how did people respond to it?
  • What questions were asked?
  • How did people respond to the questions?
  • Which questions helped widen and deepen the dialogue?
  • What worked well and what didn't work so well?
  • What would you do differently next time?

3. Finding solutions

  • What ideas for action came up during the dialogue?
  • What helped people engage to act as agents for change?
  • What helped people work together on a shared future?
  • How was the action plan documented and agreement reached on who would do what?
  • What support do those with actions need?

4. Follow up

  • How was the follow up organised?
  • What came out of the follow up?
  • What worked well and what didn't work so well?
  • How did those with actions feel?
  • What support was given to those with actions?
  • What further support is needed?

Reflective questions for skills


  • How much of the time were you able to just listen?
  • How aware were you of listening to understand?
  • When you did drift off into thinking or judging how log was it before you came back to listening?
  • How often did you interrupt?
  • How did you clarify that what you heard was what was meant?
  • What were you aware of while listening?

Asking questions

  • What type of questions did you ask - open, closed, discovery?
  • What response did your questions provoke?
  • Which questions helped people;
    • share their experiences
    • better understand their perspectives
    • understand how their life experiences have influenced their perspectives, values and beliefs
    • be open to the different experiences, perspectives and beliefs
  • Which questions encouraged people to;
    • make judgements
    • state their beliefs


  • How often were you aware of yourself observing, judging, thinking?
  • How did you manage to come back to the conversation?
  • What did you notice in terms of; facts, opinions, values and beliefs, feelings, requests, reactions and responses?
  • When sharing your observations, how well did you stick to what you observed?


  • What sensations were you aware of in your body?
  • What were you aware of seeing?
  • What thoughts arose?
  • What else came into your field of awareness?
  • How aware were you of thinking, planning, judging, using specific language?
  • How did you bring yourself back to maintaining awareness?


  • What did you notice about the language you used?
  • What impact did your language have?
  • How did others react/respond to your language?
  • What did you notice about the language of others?
  • How did you, and others, react/respond?
  • For you and others, What different language could have been used?

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

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