A Time for Reflection

January 5th, 2015

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New year is a good time for both reflection and resolution. This year I have not made any resolutions but I have spent some of my down time reflecting on how both I and my  business have grown and developed over the past four years.

Reflection is very important in the work that I do as a mediator, coach and trainer. I have got into the habit of engaging in reflection as it is part of my continuous development and learning. As Confucius put it “There are three methods of gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is imitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest”.

So here is some of the wisdom that I have gained along the way through reflection:-

 

  • The development of my business has continued to exceed expectations, growing by around 30% year on year. Whilst I always had confidence (or maybe blind faith) that it would succeed, I did not quite imagine that it would be where it is today four years ago. In part this demonstrates the benefit of being flexible and adapting or responding to opportunities that present themselves. An example of this for me is the development of the workplace investigation services; this was not something in the original business plan but is now a key area of growth and development.
  • In line with the growth of the business, I feel that I have grown and developed more over the past four years than at any time during my career. The freedom to delve into any areas that spark my interest is liberating. In particular I have become more and more interested in the psychology of how people respond and react in conflict situations. This has enhanced and enriched much of the training and coaching that I undertake.
  • I have also been undertaking a course about the neuroscience of coaching. This has been both fascinating and enlightening and has impacted in particular on my mediation practice. As a result I think I have become more attuned to others thinking styles and recognising when change and learning can occur. (For more reflections on this see Coping with change and an emptier nest)
  • Recently I have been involved in a number of situations where there have been group or team conflict. This can be particularly challenging as inevitably there are different communication styles and competing needs and interests. My ability to recognise this and encourage group learning or understanding has improved from both the experience of combining mediation, facilitation and coaching techniques and skills and reflection.
  • I am a fan of Ken Cokes book “Mediating Dangerously” and think that I am becoming more and more dangerous! By which I mean that I am more willing to take risks, challenge assumptions  and to name the “elephant in the room; in practice I think this means trusting my gut feelings. Operating in this way does I believe lead to greater understanding and lasting change.
  • Another major new development is the implementation of a new and innovative service; namely neutral assessments. The best way of describing this is a process which combines the principles and skills of both mediation and investigation;  utilising the best of both. It has been very well received and successfully applied in group conflict situations. It is an empowering and collaborative process which is a far better option in many cases than traditional formal processes.
  • I have achieved a life long ambition in becoming a published author. My book “A Managers Guide to Mediating Conflict” distils much of my learning and experience of conflict resolution and mediation. It explains the main principles of mediation but also explores the skills required and how these can be used to improve management skills and used in day to day situations.

So that was the last four years; here are some of the things to come in 2015 and beyond;-

  • New and improved training offerings; including accredited mediation training for those who want to practice mediation and a new course based on the book for those who want to enhance conflict resolution and leadership skills.
  • Lots more neutral assessments and growth of the investigations services in association with fantastically talented people.
  • A continued increase in team development work and group conflict situations.
  • Continuous learning and loving it all!!

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