Reflexivity at heart of cultural change

Today the FT published a story titled “Sexual harassment and bullying rife in legal profession”.  At the heart of the story is a survey by the International Bar Association that also shows workplace training is having little or no effect on the problem.

I’ve absolutely no doubt most law firms condemn this behaviour; that the leaders of those businesses believe it should be stopped. I’m also sure they’ve backed all sorts of initiatives designed to tackle it.  But it seems to me this could be little more than well-presented lip service; easy to do, but ineffective.  Reflecting, taking stock, and owning up to the reality of our own behaviour and its impact is not.

A reflexive person is someone who takes time to reflect openly and honestly on their beliefs, values and actions and put what they learn into practice.  A reflexive team is similarly powerful.

Reflexivity is at the heart of what I do as a counselling psychotherapist.  Reflecting on my feelings and behaviour is incredibly important.  I need to spot, own and learn from the moments when I get something right as well as the ones when I get it wrong.  I need to recognise when my actions are a result of my history, not the ‘in the moment’ interaction.

A reflexive culture in the business world fosters creativity and innovation.  It will reveal the reality of actions versus words and the ‘hidden truths’, be they good or bad.  And it will encourage change, when change is necessary.

You can’t have a reflexive culture, if you haven’t got reflexive leaders.  For people used to making and committing to decisions and then taking responsibility, this can be difficult.  But it’s essential.  My advice is to find a ‘safe’ space, put down your defences and challenge yourself.

Then you can start to look at the business.  Step on is to get the ground rules right.  These include:

1.   Everyone deserves respect.

2.   Everyone’s experience is valid.

3.   Everyone has something to say.

4.   Everyone is worth listening to.

5.   Everyone needs to listen attentively.

6.   No one is always right.

7.   No one is always wrong.

Then ask the right questions.  These include:

1.   What’s happening?

2.   How do I/we experience it?

3.   What’s working? What’s not? Why?

4.   What’s particularly challenging?  Why?

5.   What gets in the way?  Why?

6.   What am I / are we really proud of?

7.   What helps?  Why?

8.   What have I learnt?

9.   What have we all learnt?

10.How will I/we use what I’ve/we’ve learnt in the future?

Contact me if you want to find out more about becoming reflexive.

About the author

I have the unusual combination of psychotherapeutic training and nearly 30 years in PR and communication.  My qualifications in include a degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy.  I am currently completing an MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy.

I work in private practice in Kenilworth supporting clients as they tackling issues including stress, depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties and trauma.

As a PR and communication specialist, my track record spans SMEs to global businesses in sectors as varied as professional services, engineering, transport, education and gardening.

By Cathy Connan

I'm an integrative psychotherapist. I help people invest in their wellbeing and live the life they want.