In 1984, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends published a volume called The Mediator’s Handbook. The fourth edition of this wonderful book has recently been released through the Canadian publisher New Society Publishers. By now entirely independent of its initial Quaker roots, The Mediator’s Handbook has earned the enthusiastic endorsement of such luminaries as Richard Schell of the Wharton School, Mike McIlwrath of General Electric, and Mohammed Abu-Nimer of American University. It is a simple, insightful, and eminently practical book that belongs on every mediator’s shelf — a well thumbed copy, that is!
Two of the most impressive attributes of this publication are its practical utility and its broad applicability. The way the authors introduce the process, define the fundamental terms, and describe each step of the process seems to invite the use of mediation between businesses, within organizations, in family conflicts, among community participants — all without distinction or exclusion.
The second section, called “The Toolbox,” gets down to the practical skills of the facilitative mediator. The authors are to be congratulated if only for the ease, simplicity and directness of their pelucid style. But more than that — they seem to synthesize and summarize principles in a way that creates new insight. The delicate skill of avoiding counseling, moralizing or pushing for an outcome, while nevertheless urging the parties forward towards a solution, is particularly well laid out.
The authors are Jennifer Beer of the Wharton School, Caroline Packard of Friends Conflict Resolution Program, and Eileen Stief, a traner for that Program. It is wholeheartedly recommended for mediators of every stripe.