A rather recent trend in transnational business dispute resolution is the use of mediation as a method for reaching amicable solutions. However, a successful business mediation that involves representatives of different cultures, who speak different languages, creates unique challenges for all the parties involved. All too often language barriers, cultural differences and the parties’ lack of understanding of each other’s respective cultures, lead to a breakdown in the negotiation process.
In order to best represent your foreign or domestic client in the cross-border or international business mediation process, you must do significant pre-mediation work in order to understand the nationality and culture of the opposing party. Although this knowledge alone will not make or break a mediation case, it will give you valuable insight that will help you predict both the attitudes and behavior the other party is likely to exhibit at the table. Further, a solid cultural understanding will allow you to be a more proactive negotiator by giving you the ability to meet the other party’s culturally grounded expectations, and even interpret his/her body language.
One effective method in preparing for the transnational business mediation is to work with foreign language interpreters or translators who have a background in the culture of the opposing party. They will be able to educate you in such areas as culture, language and common business practices- giving you an edge in the negotiation process.