How would you respond when you were called upon to carry messages between the parties?


Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you always operate by trying to get the parties to come together face to face?

Answer:
Yes. But sometimes that doesn't happen.

Question:
What do you do if you can't do that?

Answer:
Then I shuttle. It isn't really a good process because I don't have the goodies that Kissinger had. Kissinger didn't really do mediation, he just went over there and said, "I'll give you this if you agree." But it is more difficult. The easiest thing to do is to get two people together. You can read them better that way. But if somebody says, "I want you to go tell these people this," it's really hard to trust their intentions. Especially when the city, or so- called group A, is talking to group B through you and you really don't know what the response is going to be over there. Or how it is that they intend to talk to these folks. They can offer them the moon and these folks are going to say, "That ain't right. It ain't going to happen." And when you go back and tell them that they don't want it, they say, "Well, we tried everything, and they wouldn't go for it." And that's sort of an oversimplification of things, but I really prefer to sit down and talk to both parties.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I do a lot of what I call shuttle diplomacy.

Question:
You actually get the idea of what the interests and issues are of one side. Then, do you go to the other side and say, "This is what they are thinking?"

Answer:
No, no. I don't ever do that. I let them do that at the table, I just try to find out what their interests and needs are and where the flexibility is. Sometimes I might ask some "what if" questions. What is your reaction to this concept and what do you need in this and so on. But I don't try to become a messenger for the parties. On the contrary, I avoid that. Even if we're in a mediation session and we're at the table, you always make sure there's a room for caucuses. If I caucus with one party or the other, before we go back into the room, one of things I make sure is determined is, "Okay, which of you is going to bring this back to the table, because I shouldn't be the person." I am strictly seen as the mediator, rather than a messenger for either party. So I make a specific, conscious effort to not become the messenger. The closest thing to being a messenger might be if there is, in fact, a proposal made and I try to estimate what their reaction would be. I would say, "I don't know, but let me check, okay?" Then, even if I am not sure if that's going to work, I try not to actually deliver the message per se.






Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Usually, as a result of the telephonic shuttle diplomacy we had made significant progress in a certain area and were ready to go on to another part. I would summarize and confirm that everybody was seeing the same thing at the same time in the same room, confirming what we have accomplished. Then I would lay the ground work for where are we going next, and begin the process of deciding how we approach that. We probably met face to face every month or so and frequently we set a tentative date for when they might be able to do it again. Because this is not a group you could get together on a week's notice.

Question:
So you're doing a whole bunch of telephone work in between?

Answer:
Yes.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I think it was shared somewhat. But those are the kinds of things they were saying, "Will you relay that to them? They need to understand why you feel this way. Will you relate it to them?" Actually trying to bridge what they would share with us in caucus, we would try to say, "Okay, we understand your point, why didn't you say that at the table? Let's bring that to the table and see if that will help us, so we're able to get more information and get an agreement that more information should be shared as to why you feel the way you do."

Question:
They were reluctant originally to share at the table?

Answer:
They did not share all that information at the table.






Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

CRS uses a lot of the shuttle diplomacy, meeting with one group and then going to the other side and beginning to share what we feel we ought to share with them. So they begin to feel comfortable that we are helping them in their best interests.

Question:
How did you determine what could be shared and what couldn't be shared?

Answer:
Generally it was the issues at hand. Most of the time on the majority they would say that they were not prepared to share certain things. They were prepared to hire someone from the minority community but that the personnel committee needed to finalize, as an example, that indeed the budget was going to have more money for a bilingual program and would have more teachers, but we couldn't share that with them.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Do you sometimes resolve things just with shuttling, without ever bringing the groups together?

Answer:
Most of the time.

Question:
What do you do?

Answer:
Most of the time, they're not even draft agreements. We don't do that because then they want to take it to an attorney, they want to have their grandma and everybody look at it and edit it and do all of those things. And what we find is that there are existing documents or procedures that they can follow. If the procedure is to go to a school, and that principal only has a certain amount of authority, which is generally not clear to them and it is up to us to help them get a better understanding by setting up meetings where the documents are shared. They find the resolutions themselves and we don't feel that we gain anything additional by reducing that type of a dispute to writing.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

If you're sincere at what you're doing, you don't have to be concerned about a person's grammar, diction, or correct use of an adjective or verb. So I would always say to these people that want to use me as a messenger, I'd say, "No, you're going to have to come. You live here, you can say it better and more factually than I can. I'm not going to be a messenger." Some people would say, "What are you here for? You're here to represent us. We pay your salary, we're taxpayers and you know, we can get you fired."



Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How do you decide when to stop dealing with them separately and bring them both to the table?

Answer:
It varies. Sometimes you have to do it in the heat of the conflict and have them realize that unless an agreement is reached today, there's going to be serious consequence and everybody's going to suffer. Then again, it takes time to build and you gotta spend days going back and forth from one group to the other. It's usually hot, you're tired, but you say, "I can't give up now. I have to go, I have to keep on going." Then when you start seeing little cracks and people saying, "Well, let me call so-and-so. Call me in a day." I'd say, "I don't have a day or two. Can't you call them now?"




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I began to shift back and forth between all of the parties to get their reaction to what happened. First, I wanted to come up with just basic information about what happened. Then after that, who perceives what? Does the white students' association perceive it to be this way? Do the black athletes perceive it to be that way, and so forth. So that took a total of about eight weeks, being on and off the campus and sliding in to see the athletes, going up and consulting with the President, and listening to the white students' association. Before you can put pieces together and come to the table you sometimes have to use shuttle diplomacy. After a certain discussion with the President, I decided not to bring them together. The reason was because no matter how well it was intended ,and how good it sounded, and how much people wanted to get to the bottom of this, I also knew that certain people held grudges that would prevent it from working. You never knew who held the grudge against who. And after all the handshakes and everything else, sometimes it just wasn't good. And I knew in this situation, the poor athletes being on scholarship and everything else, weren't in the position to stand on equal ground. At least I didn't think so. So we never were going to sit down in the President's office. If there was anybody sitting down in the President's office, it was going to be me. In these types of cases I handled the conflict through on-going shuttle diplomacy.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The main job of CRS was to get him to meet with them. Not to carry the message of what was happening, but to get the president to sit down with the parents, hear them out and give them a response. That was the appropriate role for us. When the president told us he was too busy to meet, C.J. said, "I only need five minutes of your time, and that five minutes was spent convincing him and trying to help him understand the necessity of meeting with the parents.



Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Can you verbalize how you moved in that way?

Answer:
It took time establishing that trust relationship. The community would be saying the same thing, "They're not going to be fair or honest. They're not going to deal with us with integrity, they never have." To be able to come to some point and say to the community, "They have assured me that they're coming to the table in good faith. Now I'm going to take them at their word. Are you going to at least give it a shot?" The same thing with the establishment. It was a matter of being able to verbalize for the community at first, this is how they feel. "If that happened to you, how would you feel?" "Well, I'd feel awful. But we didn't do that." "Well, I'm not saying you did. But if they believe you did, they feel that." That worked.

Question:
You're doing this before the group meeting?

Answer:
Yes. Right. One of my decisions about whether they were ready to meet at the table was whether or not I could get any glimmer of empathy from all sides, however many sides there were. If I couldn't get some awareness or sensitivity to other party's position, I was reluctant to go to the table. I might continue shuttling back and forth and come up with some kind of an agreement, but if you can't create empathy, you can't have a relationship. Without that, mediation is not going to work. If there's no reason for us to relate, there's no reason for me to empathize with you.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I think they began to recognize that kind of shuttle diplomacy, and in this case, not just shuttle diplomacy but shuttle telephone diplomacy, that we were facilitating, was in fact bringing the two parties closer. I think they began to see our even handedness, that we didn't try to push them or pressure them into accepting deals or making agreements with which they were uncomfortable. The more time we spent on this, the more they began to realize that we were, in fact, facilitating and not trying to coerce them into accepting the position being presented by the other party and vice versa.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

He said, "I have a problem here in the institution, and I want you to come out here right away." I said, "Okay, what's the problem?" "These guys are raising hell," and he went on. So when I got there, he gave me a run-down of what was happening, and he brought in one of his program administrators and he said to me, "This is the guy that I think will do a good job helping you. I want you to go in there and talk to these guys and I don't want to have any more crap." So that's the way he talked to me. I said, "Okay, fine. Let's go in and talk to them." So we began the discussions, and from then on, I went there every day for two weeks. Then one day, I got there and the first thing the warden said was, "Where in the hell have you been?" I said, "I've been on the road." He said, "We just had a problem here and we had to lock these guys down." I said, "Okay, fine. What happened?" "Well, they went at each other." "Alright." So then we had them in a situation where they were a captive audience, which I think was good. So there was no anger about, "Well, I was in class, I was in this, I was lifting weights." They had to be there because they were locked down. So then we had an opportunity to talkWe did not get them together, but went back and forth between them like Secretary of State Kissinger did some time ago. We got them to agree to get together.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Were you moving from group to group?

Answer:
No. I dealt with the city of Signal Hill, which is in the Long Beach area, east Los Angeles. I worked with the various areas in Signal Hill -- the harbor area, various areas in the Latino community. The African Americans did their thing with the African American community and the Asian group did their thing with some of the Asian folks, and the Anglo types did something with the Anglo community. Also, we had to get involved with the law enforcement types because meeting with the chiefs and the sheriff is one thing, but meeting with members of the department is certainly another thing. Although the chief may say, "This is the way it is," you talk to the law enforcement guy out in the street and he'll give you a whole different picture.

Question:
So you talked with each racial group separately?

Answer:
Yes. Then in the end, we met together with Latinos, blacks and Asians, each representing their own group.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

They were always private and always apart until we got to the point that we started working on a series of issues, and in between we were simply going between one group and the other.



Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were there cases where you never brought the parties together, or never met with them separately?

Answer:
Never brought them together?

Question:
Did you ever do shuttle diplomacy where you just went back and forth, back and forth?

Answer:
I'd probably regard that as conciliation. You know, I think I'm trying to recall that Georgia case. That was shuttle diplomacy, taking proposals back and forth getting feedback and counter proposals. And that's one example where there was no meeting of the parties involved there. I'm sure it's happened, but off hand I can't remember, nothing comes to mind but I feel sure that it has happened.







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