Although the most successful outcomes come from mediation styles in which both parties are present, in many situations, having both sides unite is simply not an option. This is where shuttle (or -separate-) mediation comes into play. In instances where there has been domestic violence, for example, or where the impact of having both parties together would simply be too emotional, shuttle mediation is the perfect solution.
When implementing shuttle mediation, neither party meets face to face. Instead, the mediator acts as a -go-between,- with the at-odds-parties being in the same vicinity, but not in the same room. Engaging in direct communication with the mediator only, the shuttle mediation method is used to define the issues and enable possible solutions to be suggested. Because this method takes longer than face-to-face mediation methods such as interest-based and facilitative mediation, it is often slightly more expensive, However, if a settlement can be reached through shuttle mediation, it is still cheaper and less taxing than resorting to solicitors.
Often referred to as a -face-saving- option, shuttle mediation is usually a last resort not only because it is time-intensive, but also because most non-literal and non-verbal meanings tend to get lost in translation as there is no access to body language or tone of voice. While these are clear disadvantages to shuttle mediation, there are almost many advantages. For example, in cases where the parties do not feel confident about physical safety, or where there are barriers to meeting such as distance or health restrictions, shuttle mediation is the ideal solution.
During shuttle mediation, it is imperative that the mediator both summarizes and reports what is being said both timely and correctly. If the mediator can successfully portray each parties’ wants and desires, then an agreement can easily and successfully be reached, and shuttle mediation will prove to be a successful method that works for both parties.
By: Dayna Danson www.themediator.ca