[Mediation Services] [adrr.com  > Index  > Essential Skills Syllabus]  -- [Mediation Books]

Essential Skills for Dispute Resolution Professionals


Essential Skills for DR Professionals/Personal Peacemaking includes specifics on useful techniques, abilities, personal peacemaking skills and approaches. In this class you will learn how to neutralize the three most common kinds of verbal violence associated with people in stress (including almost all dispute resolution proceedings), how to match sensory modes in order to calm disputants and increase persuasiveness, and how to be much more effective at what you do.

The class will be taught from two books, one by Dr. Suzette Haden Elgin and one on Facilitation. At the end you will have the skills to act ethically as an advocate or a neutral and to be effective. You will be oriented towards real life application of the skills taught in the program and will leave the class able to do more in every area of your life where you deal with human beings.



You will learn:


Before the break in plain text, after the break in italics. All classes begin with a question and answer period. Students are encouraged to read the assigned chapters before class and to write down questions they would like answered. Items in bold italics are essentials that are to be learned in the class. Most classes will include additional drill sheets being handed out to expand upon the materials in the text book.

This class builds step-by-step essential skills for dealing with individuals on the one hand and for dealing with groups on the other. It is intended to increase your effectiveness and to teach you skills that every true dispute resolution professional should know.

Week One:

Week Two:

Week Three:

Week Four:

Week Five:

Week Six:

Week Seven:

Week Eight:

Week Nine:

Week Ten:

Final Exam

Final Projects


Stephen R. Marsh, J.D.; resume at http://adrr.com/smarsh/smresume.htm; e-mail at smarsh@adrr.com.


There are on-line materials at http://adrr.com/arb01 and at http://adrr.com/lingua/. All Elgin materials that are on-line are used by permission. As the class nears, and as the semester progresses, additional materials will be posted on-line.

The textbooks are:

The Skilled Facilitator by Roger M. Schwarz (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1994).

How to Turn The Other Cheek and Still Survive In Today's World by Dr. Suzette Haden Elgin (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997).

There will also be substantial handouts and support materials provided. Each student will also need a notebook or journal for tasks assigned with this class.


The class will track the chapters of How to Turn The Other Cheek and Still Survive In Today's World, with drills and projects related to each chapter, approximately one chapter per class. It will include unpublished materials not included in the book by the author.

In addition, after the break in each class, additional facilitation skills and knowledge will be taught from The Skilled Facilitator, with significant time dedicated purely to facilitation. There will also be class projects related to peacemaking and a number of worksheets and handouts.


Regular attendance is very important in this course and a function of grading from two separate perspectives. First, after six (6) unexcused class hours (hours, not absences) a student is subject to a grade of "F." Class hours missed due to an illness or work conflict will be excused, subject to the instructors sole discretion. Students agree to binding arbitration of any conflict with the arbitrator of the instructor's choice and at the student's expense should an appeal be taken from the sole discretion of the instructor. Expect to present documented proof of the reasons for any and all absences.

Second, students will automatically fail the course after twelve (12) hours of class have been missed for any reason. Also, a student will be considered tardy if the student is late by thirty (30) minutes or more. If the roll has already been taken, the tardy student bears the responsibility of calling the instructor's attention (after class) to the student's attendance. Failure to do so may result in an unexcused absence for the entire class period.

This policy follows the policy manual policy and is intended to conform strictly with the guidelines set by SMU and required of instructors.


Students desiring to observe a religious holy day, which will result in a class absence, must notify the instructor in writing no later than one week after the first day of the semester in which the absence will occur.  Students will be required to complete any assignments or take any examinations which may have been missed as the result of the absence within a reasonable time.


Students are urged to consult with an instructor before withdrawing from this course, however it is the student's responsibility to withdraw from the course if necessary. Failure to follow SMU's prescribed procedures will result in the student receiving a performance grade, usually an "F."


Be punctual. Class will begin on time. Breaks will be granted, but students must return on time. Usually breaks will be scheduled sometime before 8:30 p.m. when the snack bar closes. Attendance is mandatory and roll will be taken according to SMU policy and requirements. Beepers and cellular phones are to be turned off during the class. The instructor turns his off. Be prepared to participate. Your grade will be modified by your responses when called upon. Professional respect and courtesy are expected


A final and a project, as well as attendance and participation are required.

The following components will comprise a student's course evaluation:

The final grade will be calculated as follows:

A, A+     Excellent Scholarship
B+,B,B- Good Scholarship
C+, C,C-   Fair Scholarship
D+,D,D- Poor Scholarship
F    Failure
I Incomplete
NC No Credit Received
WP/W Withdraw Passing/Withdraw


Every student is expected to adhere to the Honor Code when doing all assignments and in taking all tests, whether in class, the law library, or any other location.


Students will be required to display name identification at every class.

The syllabus is subject to change at the instructor's discretion.


The following is a real comment from a real person who was taught the techniques and approaches that will be in this class. You should be able to say the same things when the class is over:

I conducted a mediation between parents about child support. On a previous occasion dealing with a similar (but not identical) situation, the whole thing fell apart, quickly, with mutual-blaming-about-past-history- which-of-course-can't-be-changed-so-you-can't-do-anything-about-it (usually called a blow-up). That was