The aim is that participants will learn how to formulate and ask incisive questions, drawn from a range of theoretical propositions, to introduce new information, clarify existing information and safely challenge and shift any entrenched thinking of parties in mediation. This is the key to reaching successful and sustainable mediation agreements.
To introduce, describe and explain the purpose and focus of the S Questions Model so that participants will be able to implement the theoretical learning in practice.
To demonstrate the use of the S Questions Model through filmed roleplayed examples to embed the practical application of its learning.
To radically sharpen, focus, and improve the questioning skills of the participants so that their work with mediation parties will affect a shift in parties’ thinking and approach to their conflict.
Learn the theory and purpose behind each S4: Shift Thinking question type from the S Questions Model - why it works, how to build the question and strategically use it for a successful outcome.
Be able to apply their newly gained knowledge and theory in formulating and asking gentle, safe, penetrating and paradigm-shifting questions.
Know how the distortion, deletion and deficit of communicated information can hinder solution.
Know and understand the physiological changes that occur when parties are in conflict and will be able to work constructively and confidently with a person in this physiological state.
Know how to use the S Questions Model in separate private mediation sessions, both before the first joint meeting and during caucus meetings, to facilitate parties:
To untangle their thinking and gain clarity and focus around their issues.
To voice and vent negative emotions safely so they can start to think cognitively.
To become congruent in their communication.
To start the journey of a paradigm shift in their thinking before the joint session.
Know how to use the S Questions Model in joint mediation sessions:
To create a safe space for both parties to share their thoughts and views.
To allow for the introduction of new and clarified information to the parties so that a paradigm shift in their thinking and approach can occur.
To create mutual understanding between parties.
To move parties to a state where they are cognitively able to identify solutions and agreements that are sustainable and that will meet the needs and underlying
interests of both of them.
Theoretical background underpinning the development and application of the S Questions Model in creating a paradigm shift in the thinking and approach of conflicting parties.
How the distortion, deletion and deficit of communicated information can block conflict solution.
Introduction and overview of the S Questions Model and its four dimensions:S1: Subject Matter
Dimension of Questions, S2: Structure Dimension of Questions, S3: Seeking Information
Dimension of Questions, S4: Shift Thinking Dimension of Questions
In-depth learning about the S4: Shift Thinking Dimension of Questions - how they work, how to
build these questions and when to use them
Hazard Warnings regarding the use of the S Questions Model
Demonstration film showing the application of the S4: Shift Thinking Dimension of Questions in
case scenarios with resulting outcomes:
Separate private sessions:
S4: Shift Thinking Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Based Questions
Note: All eight S4: Shift Thinking Questions can be asked at both separate and joint sessions.
Application of the learning through exercises, role play and discussion Teaching and Learning Strategies
Teaching and Learning Strategies
The teaching and learning strategies are chosen for their ability to instil high levels of learner andragogical development and engagement. Participants will be given an opportunity to put their learning into practice with intense reflection on that practice. They will debate and critique many concepts during the training. The author and trainer, Gerry O’Sullivan, holds a one-year ‘Diploma in Continuing Education’ from St. Patricks, College, Maynooth., now known as National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
The workshop will be highly participative and practical, and will include:
Expert presentation from the author of ‘The Mediator’s Toolkit: Formulating and Asking
Questions for Successful Outcomes’ and the developer of the S Questions Model.
Filmed demonstrations of roleplayed examples of the application of the S Questions Model
Reflective practice learning based on case studies, exercises and role plays specifically designed
for application of the learning
Participant feedback and discussion with paired, small group and plenary group discussions
Provision of a copy of the ‘The Mediator’s Toolkit: Formulating and Asking Questions for
Successful Outcomes’, as well as a Course Workbook
Requirements from Training Participants
To read and study the Practice Case Scenario from which they will be working during the training.
There will also be a number of questions accompanying the scenario that will need reflection prior
to the commencement of the training. The pre-training work will be emailed to participants.
Feedback from S Questions Model Training Participants
"It is essential information for anyone mediating."
Mary Smyth, State Valuation Office, Dublin
"Excellent interactive course with loads of learning. Provides excellent structure for asking questions to assist moving on from being stuck at an impasse in difficult conversations."
James Gibney, Irish Prison Service
"If you want to learn from somebody who knows their job and loves it, this is the course for you. Gerry’s honesty and enthusiasm is infectious. Brilliant facilitation and invaluable knowledge."
Ken Quinn, Wexford
Chris Dunne, Hannah Carney & Associates, Solicitors, Dublin
"It’s not going to be what you would expect, you will be pleasantly surprised."
Des O’Shea, Irish Prison Service
"Much of the wisdom gained through O'Sullivan’s vast experience of thirty years' work in the field of
conflict resolution has been distilled into her training programme for the S Question Model. Her
tremendous knowledge and research help to equip mediators with the theoretical and psychological
background, together with cases and practical examples of how to hone the crucial skill of
questioning clients. She demonstrates effective and perceptive questioning techniques that help to
provide the inquisitive understanding crucial to practically navigate the essentially human side of
disputes. With her natural style and delivery, she explains with ease how skilful questioning can
result in paradigm shifts and therefore better outcomes all round for parties in conflict. Her wisdom,
understanding and practical insights will be invaluable to all mediators."
Dr. Joanne Blennerhassett, author, A Comparative Examination of Multi-Party Actions, Solicitor,
Mediator, University Law Lecturer, Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin, Ireland.
"What an interesting and valuable Q & A session run by One Resolve interviewing Gerry O'Sullivan
about her brilliant book The Mediator’s Toolkit. Gerry furthermore gave us superb specific
demonstrations detailing the core thinking behind her S Questions Model and bringing to life for us
how effective I believe it will prove to be in practical use. Through her presentation we gained a
great understanding into her unique model of questioning developed through her extensive
experience in conflict resolution to help mediators achieve the very most from their sessions, and
ultimately their practise. In practical terms she is clearly introducing a truly insightful approach in
which to engage her clients to really find out the core issues at stake as this is effectively where the
opportunities for true resolution lies. What a welcome addition to any DR practitioner this book,
together with Gerry's unique qualities as a mediation authority and trainer, will prove to be."
Dede Gold, Solicitor (UK and Ireland) FMA Mediation Foundation Course 2013