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The Mediator's Toolkit (PDF)
Formulating and Asking Questions for Successful Outcomes
Knowing how to formulate and ask incisive questions to get to the core of a conflict, challenge entrenched thinking, and shift perspectives are the main challenge for mediators and the key to successful conflict resolution.
The Mediator’s Toolkit employs the author’s powerful “S Questions Model,” to provide readers with the skills and tools to develop and ask strategic questions that result in successful outcomes in any context. The S Questions Model toolkit dives into four dimensions of successful questions for mediation: the subject matter dimension, the structure dimension, the information seeking dimension, and the shifting thinking dimension. The toolkit clearly explains:
- The theory behind each question type, including exploration of relevant neuroscience and psychology
- The purpose of different types of questions
- How the questions work
- When to use different types of questions
- How to build and apply questions to mediation in a non-threatening way.
This essential practical guide will radically sharpen, focus, and improve the questioning skills of qualified mediators, students, lecturers, trainers, and those using questions to challenge and effect change, in any context.
Gerry O’Sullivan is a mediator, trainer and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in conflict resolution and training. She’s a practitioner-member of the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland (MII), a member of the US-based Mediators Beyond Borders Consultants Team, and has delivered training with Lawyers Without Borders. Gerry is Director of O’Sullivan Solutions and she lives on the southwest coast of Ireland.
"All the most important conflicts we face today, from war and politics to workplace and domestic disputes, are sparked by the brain's responses to conflict. In the last few years, groundbreaking neurophysiological research has led to profound new understandings of how the brain works, and to immensely creative, powerful new ways of responding to conflict. Gerry O'Sullivan has written a wonderful, well-researched, fascinating and practical toolkit for mediators that offers fresh new insights into how we can help our brains discover the questions that can transform conflicts into opportunities for resolution, learning and improved relationships. It is a terrific read, and one you will relish and be grateful for."
Kenneth Cloke, mediator and author of The Dance of Opposites: Explorations in Mediation, Dialogue and Conflict Resolution Systems Design.
"An invaluable analysis, not merely of questions, but of a range of process interventions, to equip mediators in all sectors to deepen the effectiveness of their work with people in dispute. Mediators have to work in the moment, exercising their intuition in a flash as to what to do next and how. This book will help to develop the internal base from which such intuitive insights emerge."
Tony Allen, Mediator and Senior Consultant to CEDR, London
"As a mediator and trainer this is a must have book. It fills a gap in the literature that has long been ignored but goes to the heart of mediating conflicts. The Mediator's Toolkit: Formulating and Asking Questions for Successful Outcomes strikes the right balance between theory and practice making sure mediators know what to ask; why these questions are important; and the theoretical foundations of the cognitive shift the questions seek to initiate. O'Sullivan's examples and cases are reflective of a mediator's reality making the toolkit a valuable book to buy in hardcover and keep on the desk."
Dr. Juan Diaz-Prinz, Mediator and Trainer in Conflict Management, Berlin, Germany
"The Mediator's Toolkit stands out among all teaching, self-help and learning books for mediators (professionals and wanna-bes), and their trainers, because it touches the part of mediator's art which most professionals only reach through sweat and blood during many mediations: the art of knowing how, when and why to ask the timely felicitous questions. This is revealed masterfully in the 'S Questions Model' developed by O'Sullivan. This book will immediately go to the must-have/reading lists and will become one of my everyday reference books. The content is so well organised, it is an easy-to-use source of information and an inspiration for creative mediation work."
Irena Vanenkova, international mediator, Moscow, Russia; director, Singapore International Mediation Institute; former executive director, International Mediation Institute
"Questions are the steering wheel for navigating difficult conversations, and at long last mediators have a valuable guide in the Mediator's Toolkit. The book dives deep into the psychology of information and emotion in conflict situations, illustrating in nuanced detail how well crafted questions can lead conflicting parties to a wider understanding and therefore better outcomes. Highly recommended for facilitators and negotiators as well as mediators."
Jennifer Beer, author, The Mediator's Handbook; Negotiation instructor, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
"Thoroughly enjoyable read as well as an invaluable resource for mediators in training and experienced mediators, which will become an immediate "classic". The accessible writing, illustrations, case studies, and questions make it a must-read on our programme Reading Lists. I look forward to continuing to dip in and out of the book in my own preparation for and reflection on my mediation practice."
Treasa Kenny, Academic Programme Coordinator and Lecturer, Edward M. Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention, Maynooth University, Ireland
"The Mediator's Toolkit is a rare thing indeed — a practical manual built on a solid foundation of knowledge and theory. Set out in an engaging, user friendly format, this book fills a crucial gap in mediation skills and practice — knowing WHY and HOW different questions work at various junctures in mediation, instead of just providing a list of interventions. Drawing on cutting edge research in psychology and neuroscience, this book gives both novice and experienced mediators new insight into their practice, and a concrete and easy to use model for improving this practice and developing their skills to a very high level. This book is essential reading for all students of conflict and mediation, and should have a place in the briefcase of every practising mediator, no matter how experienced."
Sabine Walsh, President, Mediators' Institute of Ireland, Course Director, MA Conflict Management, St. Angela's College Sligo
"Questioning is often an unknown territory that O'Sullivan unravels. The Mediator's Toolkit is a most welcome, useful, and sophisticated addition to the mediation and conflict coaching field. It synthesizes and explains the tools that are most relevant to questions in a user friendly, while intelligent fashion, with a view to practice. It will be a reference book for the serious hands-on professional for years to come."
Dr. Antje Herrberg, CEO, Mediateur; Adjunct Professor in Peace Mediation, College of Europe; Former Member of the UN Standby Team for Mediation
"During my 24 years of mediating, I have always felt there has been insufficient attention given to the role of effective use of questions as part of the mediator's toolkit. Indeed in my experience most mediator training and texts only pay cursory attention to this skill-set. The Mediator's Toolkit skillfully and clearly fills this gap. It provides mediators with a clear conceptual framework to structure their questioning, clearly sets out the theoretical and psychological underpinnings to these techniques and then in some detail gives practical examples of how these questions may be used in mediation. While clearly written with mediators in mind, it is an invaluable resources to all those looking to resolve conflict."
James South, Mediator and Managing Director, The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), London