Honestly, I think listening is the heart of what happens in a restorative conference. This starts in the pre-conference as I listen to individuals tell their stories, express their concerns and fears, and describe their hurts. That listening begins the process of building trust which is crucial for moving forward.
In the conference, listening is vital as each participant begins to understand the humanity of the other. The trust that comes with creating the space to be heard actually means listening can happen. When being heard and listening happen, people can open their hearts. Only then can those who have caused harm understand the true impact of their actions. Only then can those who have been harmed see the humanity of the offender.
So, the coolest part of restorative conferencing is watching people listen to each other. I’m happiest when that true heart communication happens and all I have to do is be a calm presence as those affected by the crime talk to each other and build their mutual understanding. So, “what do I do?” I help people listen to each other.