8.7.7 Deepening phase 3

Exercise, handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 15 min Recap – feelings, iceberg
Phase 3 introduction 5 min Plenary Copy
Open and closed questions 15 min Splitting in pairs of two students Copy
Role play phase 3 (Including evaluation in subgroups) 30 min Continuation in groups Materials
 Position, interests, needs 20 min Copy
Evaluation 10 min

Handout 21: Understanding the conflict

In the third phase, the mediators try to have a look at what is underneath the water surface, e.g. feelings, communication patterns, misunderstandings, different values, perceptions, needs… In other words, what is behind the conflict? The mediators encourage the parties to open up and use I – statements.
One possibility to start the third phase is to ask the following question: “What does this mean for you?” The intention is to learn something about the parties´ personal background and interests.

Mediators concentrate on feelings and interests:

“What did you think when…/how did you feel when…?”
“What is important for you?”
“What is your goal?”

Mediators encourage I – statements

Mediators try to encourage personal statements (starting with I) instead of general accusations.
“Could you tell us what you did in the conflict?”

Mediators support the expression of the momentary mood of the parties

“It might be helpful if you can tell us how you feel right now.”
Mediators foster direct communication between the parties
“Please tell him/her directly.”
“What do you think about that? Please tell him/her directly.”

Mediators support the change of perspective

“Can you understand how he/she felt?”
“Imagine yourself in his/her shoes. Can you understand what happened?”

Sometimes it is helpful to ask the parties to change seats in order to intensify the change of perspectives. But make sure that both return to their original places!
Mediators summarize the progress of the process
“ I am really pleased that…”
“You have made a big step forward…”


  • Jamie Walker (Ed.), Mediation in der Schule, p. 196, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 22: Open and closed questions

In a mediation process, it is helpful to use open questions in order to avoid judgments or accusations. The mediator has a neutral attitude which should be reflected in the communication. Closed questions like

  • Did you do it?
  • Do you think that’s o.k.?
  • Do you always do it like that?
  • Do you want to apologize?

should be avoided.

Open questions

Open questions are questions that invite parties to open up and talk about the incident/conflict. It is not just a “Yes” or “No” answer.
Open questions can start with: How? What? When? Where? Who? ….

For example:

  • What happened?
  • Who else was there?
  • When did things get out of hand?
  • How did you feel at the time?
  • Where did it hurt?
  • What upset you the most?
  • What did it mean for you?
  • Do you want to talk more in detail about…?
  • I am really interested in hearing how you felt when…
  • What is the most important issue for you, can you tell me?
  • I didn´t really understand what you said, please explain it again.
Avoid asking “Why?”

Asking “Why?” usually gives the person the feeling that he or she has to defend himself / herself. People sometimes feel attacked and go on the defensive. They close down rather than opening up.


  • Jamie Walker, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 23: Guideline: Position/ Interests/Needs


20 minutes


Participants try to understand the needs of a position in a mediation party by applying the model: position/interest/needs.


Flipchart No. 1, (flipchart samples see additional material)

Instruction for implementation:

The trainers point out that it is helpful to look behind the verbalized position of the parties. Or in other words: to look underneath the water surface when we remember the model of the iceberg.

The position is the peak of the iceberg, e.g. the point of view, what is expressed:
what we say we want.

The interests are representing the intentions, goals of an actor, often not expressed directly:
what we really want.

The level of needs stands for wishes, feelings:
what we must have.

An example:

Paul, 14 years old, is often excluded by his classmates when they are playing soccer. He takes revenge by bad mouthing the other students.

His position: If they don´t include me they deserve punishment.

His interest: He wants to join the soccer game.

His needs: He wants to be integrated and accepted.

The facilitators invite the participants to come up with examples of a position in a conflict and then try to analyze the interest and needs behind it.

Evaluation procedure: The participants share their examples and reflect that the expression of a position often mirrors unsatisfied needs.