The unsteady road
to common ground
Resolving disputes is difficult enough when
the parties involved share the same language and
culture. When people from different backgrounds
come together, finding common ground can be
rocky. Lawyers need to understand the unspoken
issues on the table —and address them.
“In this day and age of globalization,
cross-cultural differences and the challenges that these differences raise is a
very significant issue,” said Tina Hill, a
lawyer and principal of Hill ADR Solutions in Ottawa.
In particular, she said, “the challenge that
may arise when a deal falls apart or a dispute
arises is that an individual’s behaviour and his
or her interpretation of another person’s
behaviour is often shaped by their cultural
background. If someone’s behaviour is mis-
understood or taken to mean something dif-
ferent than intended, things will get worse.”
One of the key tools lawyers will need in
resolving cross-cultural disputes is an open mind.
Alberto ruggieri / imAges.com