Shuttle Negotiation

two students are waiting


Shuttle Negotiation is an indirect negotiation (facilitated by a non‐involved party) between two or more people involved in a conflict (“Participants”).  In shuttle negotiation each person in the conflict meets separately with an OSCR facilitator to discuss their needs and interests, and the OSCR facilitator assists in finding a solution (usually in a written agreement) that is acceptable to everyone involved. 

Through Shuttle Negotiation, participants can:

  • “Tell their story” by sharing their thoughts, feelings and experiences related to the conflict in a private setting.
  • Consider what actions could meaningfully resolve the conflict.
  • Explore the possibility of a negotiated resolution by exchanging proposed go‐forward agreements with a trained facilitator as an intermediary.
  • Negotiate a mutually agreeable solution that resolves the dispute.

Who’s involved?

  • Participants – the people involved in a conflict.
  • Facilitator(s) – Student or professional staff members from the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (“OSCR”)

How does it work?

In a typical Shuttle Negotiation:

  • When all participants have agreed to participate in Shuttle Negotiation, OSCR will arrange for all participants to meet privately with the facilitator.
  • The first meeting begins with a brief review of participant expectations. Each participant is invited to “tell their story”: sharing their thoughts and feelings about the conflict at issue. Facilitators connect with each participant separately and privately to ensure that each person has the opportunity to tell their story well, rather than responding to the other participants’ stories.
  • The facilitator then helps each participant explore needs, desires, and options with regard to what they would like the “future story” or resolution agreement to be.
  • In meetings and/or email communications with the facilitator, each person shares with the facilitator what would help resolve the conflict for them, and the facilitator works to create an agreement that addresses everyone’s interests
  • The facilitator then circulates draft proposals until everyone has arrived at a written agreement that is acceptable to all and that meaningfully meets their needs.
  • If everyone is satisfied by the final written agreement, then the agreement is signed and becomes binding. 

What are the benefits of using Shuttle Negotiation to resolve conflicts?

  • Shuttle Negotiation may be desirable when people prefer not to have direct contact with one another.

Facilitators are multipartial, rather than impartial or neutral. This means they are equitably partial to everyone involved in the process. Facilitators will act to ensure that all participants have the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences about the conflict as well as what could be done to make things better.

Works Cited

Wilgus, J. K., & Holmes, R. C. (2009). Facilitated dialogue: An overview and introduction for student conduct professionals. In J. M. Schrage & N. G. Giacomini (Eds.), Reframing campus conflict: Student conduct practice through a social justice lens (pp.112-125). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.