Restorative justice: 5 ways to prepare yourself for a difficult conversation

Restorative justice presents a unique opportunity to resolve conflicts that relate to serious criminal acts, anti-social behaviour or smaller demeanours.

However, whether it’s conducted in-person or remotely, there’s no escaping the fact that this might be one of the most difficult conversations many people are likely to have.

If you’re considering restorative justice or have already entered the process, we’ve got five brilliant strategies that will help you prepare for the encounter.

1. Embrace your emotions

Difficult conversations of this nature may be turning points in your search for understanding and closure, but the significance of the encounter is likely to trigger certain emotions.

Allowing those emotions to surface is an important stage of the process – try not to suppress them.

2. Think about your approach

You don’t have to say or do anything during restorative justice, but if there’s something you want to get off your chest, take some time alone to think about how you’ll deliver it.

This is your chance to address the person who has impacted your life. So, write down the key things you want them to hear.

It might be how they’ve made you feel, the extent to which their actions have affected your life or a question. Whatever it is you want to say or ask, the prospect of addressing it may ease once you see your own words in black and white.

3. Practice out loud

Running words through your head is never quite the same as saying them out loud.

Instead, try speaking to yourself. Run through the things you want to say as though the other person can hear. Your brain will process each sentence differently when it ‘hears’ the words.

You’ll also get more comfortable with what it is you want to say if you practice out loud. Try it at home or in your car until the words flow easily.

4. Call on someone close to you

You may have doubts about what you want to say or be unsure about how best to express your feelings. If that’s the case, call on someone close to you and seek their advice.

Tell them what you want to say and ask for their honest feedback. Your close friends and family will offer advice that has your best interests at heart, which is why they’re such good sounding boards.

Alternatively, if you feel you can’t broach the subject with people close to you, contact Voice. We can be that friendly ear and can offer the support you need at this time.

5. Release expectations

Instead of expecting signs of regret or remorse, try to enter the restorative justice practice without expectation.

You can only control your own actions and words, not someone else’s, so focus on what you can do and what you want to say, rather than specifically any answers you may want, and allow the conversation to unfold naturally.

Wrapping up

If you feel you’re ready to talk to the other person, our tips above should help you deal with the conversation that will flow, but remember you’re under no obligation to do anything. Only talk if you feel you can and you want to.

Restorative conferences are voluntary and held in neutral locations. They’re also mediated by a restorative professional and, as noted previously, are entirely victim-focused.

Voice works with several organisations to provide restorative practices in Northamptonshire. If you’ve been affected by crime and would like to explore this option, contact our friendly team.

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