Becoming a Reflective Practitioner

You have most likely reflected after unexpected situations, mistakes or when you were unhappy with the outcome of a case, negotiation or meeting, for example. However, this reflection may not have been systematic or deliberate and therefore remained in your unconscious. To become a competent reflective practitioner, one needs to practice the different types of reflection in a conscious and rigorous way. It is also important to remember that reflection is an ongoing process and there is not one easy-to-use recipe to becoming a reflective practitioner.

For each of the different types of reflective practice, there are appropriate methods to learn and practice, including reflective journaling, discussion with colleagues, or debriefing a critical incident (a mistake or an unexpected situation) by journaling about it or by discussing it with a mentor or colleague. 

To become a reflective practitioner, one needs to have or to develop certain attitudes, including curiosity, a willingness to learn from experience, an appreciation of the connection between theory and practice, humility and a commitment to life-long learning. Reflective practice helps you to become resilient and in turn resilience is an attribute of a reflective practitioner. Reflective practitioners are flexible and resist certainty; they are comfortable with ambiguity, learn ceaselessly and embrace failure as a teacher. 

Reflective practice also requires a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. In a fixed mindset, we are likely to believe that success is predetermined by intelligence or talent. A fixed mindset makes it difficult to receive feedback about how to improve. When we experience a setback or failure, we’re likely to give up, or to blame others or circumstances for our failure. In a growth mindset, however, we are likely to believe that success depends more on hard work than on intelligence and talent. People with a growth mindset are not likely to blame anyone or anything else when they encounter a setback; instead, they actively seek out feedback in order to learn and improve. Again, a growth mindset is necessary for reflective practice and reflective practice fosters a growth mindset.  

Last modified: Wednesday, 8 March 2023, 1:41 PM