(…and why I don’t charge for them)
Before deciding how to resolve a conflict, a decision must be made about what process should be used. I offer a complimentary consultation to help folks determine whether mediation is the right option. Here are the five reasons why I offer a consultation free of charge:
1. You should never commit to a process that you don’t understand.
The process works best when my clients truly understand the core concepts and the ethical principles of the process. Explaining how mediation works will achieve two things. First, when you know what to expect, you will feel safe and comfortable with the process. Second, this knowledge will usually shorten the time necessary to resolve the conflict. Less hours mean less fees. I don’t know anyone who would rather pay more!
2. You must feel safe and secure with the person who is delivering the service to you.
You are not just coming in to understand the process. You are coming in to meet me. As we all know, it is important that we feel comfortable and trusting of the professional who is helping us through difficult times. It is also important that we become familiar with a professional’s, background, training and credentials. Come in, have a chat, ask questions and let’s talk about your concerns. If you feel comfortable, we can be a fit. If not, I will be more than happy to give you other referrals.
3. I meet with all parties at the same time to preserve my neutrality and impartiality and to establish trust.
One of the core principles of mediation is that the mediator be both neutral and impartial at all times. Having a consultation with only one prospective participant can create a lack of trust for the person who is not present. My consultations include all parties so that no one feels that the other has “had my ear.” Having all parties in the room also allows me to demonstrate some of the techniques that are used to help folks have a safe dialogue.
4. You shouldn’t have to pay me to decide whether you like me.
When I say this to prospective clients, they usually chuckle. But on second thought, they see the wisdom in my statement. You are coming to meet me, not necessarily to hire me. I don’t “hard sell” my process. It will only work for you if, after our meeting, you truly believe that mediation can be effective. I want you to be able to leave my office without having to make a commitment and be able to freely decide whether mediation is the right process for you.
5. My selfish motivation is to be helpful, regardless of whether you find my process to be right for you.
I like to think that at the end of the day, I can be helpful even if you decide that mediation is not the right option. I believe that it is my ethical duty to not only explain the mediation process but to also help you explore whether other options are better suited to your needs.
For years, my clients have provided positive feedback about the complimentary consultation that I offer and many have suggested that I share my motivations with those that may require my services. I’m finally listening, and I hope you found this article helpful. If you are struggling with conflict, whether it be a divorce, workplace or commercial dispute, feel free to set up a time for us meet.