“The conflict is a human; the nature of conflict and the approaches towards solving conflicts are different from culture to culture” (Irani, 1999). A Jordanian’s likely point of view of accepting to have an issue mediated means he accepts the possibility that he can lose. However, in the U.S, mediation processes likely means that an economical solution to a conflict will be found.
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For example, as a business owner in Jordan, I had a business partner with whom I accepted to talk to mediators about a business dispute. He reported bought goods at a higher price than what he actually paid for them while we were organizing our new business. I immediately considered this to be an end to our partnership.
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When I accepted to talk to mediators about this matter, he believed that we would be partners again. Yet he and the mediators could not believe my determination to end this partnership, allowing him to take back his investment and go on his way. The mediators, who were volunteers, tried to help us get back together and continue our venture. Yet, I told them that this was a mistake that is considered an unethical and immoral behavior that cannot be compromised by forgiving. As a final point, our partnership was dissolved and I gave him the money that he spent. During the facilitation process the mediator aids in negotiation, but does not make recommendations. On the other hand, in the evaluation process, he makes a recommendation as to the outcome of the dispute (Gould, King, & Britton, 2010). Parties might flee arbitration because it requires identifying some change in circumstances, which might lead the parties to change the chosen method of dispute resolution (Drahozal & Wittrock, 2008). The concepts of position and interest were clear for me: my position was that I would have no more business and my interest was to send a message to everyone that they will not be able to take advantage of me. It is important to understand that the mediator’s task is not to choose who is right or wrong. With the assistance of the mediator, the parties endeavor to comprehend the positions and concerns of the other party through discussions between them. This is done to help the parties achieve a settlement that is fair and equitable to each, regardless of who is right or wrong (Tabbal, 2008).
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My experience in the U.S.A. was quite different. I had entered into a partnership of a mechanic shop with two Arab Muslims. They told me that they spent $30,000 on the business and that if I wanted to be their partner, I should pay $10,000. A few months into our partnership, I found out that they only paid $5000 for the business. A person who was going to buy that same business proved this to me. In addition, I found the original agreements between my two partners and the former owner of the shop. After collecting these pieces of evidence, I approached them and they were shocked. They wanted to pay me back my $10K and have me leave the partnership. I refused and demanded to go to Muslim community leaders to resolve it and mediate it. I suggested that they should leave the business and sign off on it to me. Moreover, I maintained that they pay me back the $5000 extra money that I paid to them. They called my brother to be the mediator, choosing him in order to save face in front of the Muslim community. My demand for calling Muslim Shaikh (Muslim religious leader) to be the mediator would have ruined their reputation within our community. At the end of mediation, they offered to pay back my $10K. I accepted this offer under the condition that I would get to keep one-fourth of the shop for my taxi business free of rent for one year as compensation for my profit in our partnership. They accepted the offer and we resolved the problem. We continued to work together, even though we had that dispute. Both of these disputes presented violations of ethical and moral behavior, yet I acted differently during each dispute. The parties often prefer alternative dispute resolution to avoid ruining business relationships that are still beneficial to the parties involved (Chau, 2007).
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In Jordanian culture, when a person shows signs of weakness in protecting his assets or money, others believe that it is a signal of a weakness in personality and nature. Thus, I had to show no compromise in order not to encourage others to take advantage of me. In this society, people will gossip about the event ceaselessly, adding to the public shame. However, in the U.S business, dealings are more private. Also, people are more concerned with their own lives in the U.S. than those of others. They have less time than people in Jordan to gossip and usually will take such issues to court. Thus, the situation was different due to the cultural context, even though the person for each case was the same.