Conflict with Compassion
Online mediation for win-win resolution of business disputes.
I am often consulted about business relationships gone sour - whether that is with a client, a service provider or a collaborator. By the time they come to ask my legal advice, the relationship is wrecked beyond repair and the people are stuck in situations of stress, anxiety, hurt feelings and financial panic. Rather than offering to represent you as you fight it out (which I don't enjoy or do well) I would like to offer you the opportunity for peace talks. Mediation is almost always faster, cheaper and less stressful than handling a dispute through legal channels.
What if instead of getting locked into this downward spiral of aggressive and/or defensive reactivity, you took a proactive approach at the first signs of a potential problem? Imagine the two of you, getting on zoom with a neutral third party who is trained in helping people say what needs to be said, to clear the air, increase mutual understanding, explore what each of you really wants to walk away with and brainstorm ways in which you can both get what you want in a win/win, future-focused solution. That is what mediation is all about. So much less stress, expense and heartache than the alternative of going to war with each other.
What if I just want advice on a conflict?
While I fully believe in the power of mediation, I know that it is not the solution to every issue. Sometimes, you just need to talk through an issue that has arisen, get clarity about your options and seek calming advice so you can make an informed decision. It can be very helpful in working out whether you really want to burn your bridges, and uncovering ways to build them stronger to save the relationship. We can cover an awful lot of ground in an hour. I issue an invoice after the session, when I know you are completely satisfied with the service I have provided.
$440 AUD including GST for a 60 minute online call.
Turn argument into agreement
When a disagreement arises, it is very easy to get caught up in a cycle of anger and blame. People become fixated on their positions, and everything seems black and white, right and wrong, win or lose. It doesn't need to be that way. In a mediation, I will gently guide you to hear each other's story and understand the issues without taking them personally, by holding space for all perspectives to be explored.
Save time, money, stress and your sanity
In my experience, taking a typical business dispute to court can easily cost more than $10K in legal costs alone, and even if you win, you don't get all of that back. Then there is the lost work hours, stress that affects your whole family, weeks - sometimes months or even years - of uncertainty. How much better would it be for you both to walk away happy, leaving you with the knowledge that you have truly walked your talk by acting with empathy as an empowered entrepreneur?
Meet everyone's needs
Mediation focuses on identifying what is truly important to each of the people involved. We then get creative about generating options that everyone can live with, and reality testing the agreed on solutions to make sure they will last.
Preserve the relationship
Whether the dispute is with a supplier, another business, a client or an employee, they are often someone you have spent time working with and gotten to know. Referrals are a major source of business in the online world and your reputation for best practice is a precious asset. Even if you won't be working together in future - and especially if you are - there are definite advantages to dealing with the dispute amicably rather than aggressively, to repair the hurt and mend the harm.
It is so easy to panic and feel threatened when a problem arises. The first step is to stay calm and consider your response. This is often easier said than done in the heat of the moment when emotions are running high. Making sure you have a robust dispute resolution strategy can be a life saver in this situation, so if you are just browsing here, thinking about what you might need in the future, and you don't yet have a Contract that Cares for your important business relationships, you might want to make that a priority.
What is the mediation process & how much does it cost?
The full cost for the mediation is $2200* which includes:
- me making contact with the other party or parties to invite them to the mediation,
- a 30-60 minute private & confidential intake interview with each of you to discuss the history of the dispute, how each of you are feeling and what you each really want (this gives me an overview of the whole situation and helps me determine if the matter is suitable for mediation - if I find it is not suitable, you only pay $550. There is still value in taking the dispute to this stage as it can really clarify what each of you are actually upset about and what you need to go forward),
- an Agreement for Mediation being provided for each of you to sign,
- a 3 hour online meeting, where I hold space for you and guide you both to tell your side of the story, make sure each of you feels heard, encourage you to be future focused and clarify your needs, and help you generate and reality test options for a mutually acceptable solution, and
- your mediated agreement drafted as a binding contract for you to sign. I encourage you both to get independent legal advice and negotiate any amendments before you sign, as this results in a longer lasting agreement.
If further mediation / contract drafting is required around amendments, this costs $440 / hour (time costed by the minute, so you only pay for what you need).
*All prices are in Australian dollars and inclusive of GST. Mediation is usually a tax deductible business expense, although you will need to confirm this with your financial advisor.
Your first step is to book a chat to make sure the dispute is suitable for mediation and there are no conflicts of interest.
(If mediation isn't what you need, book a Conflict Consultation, above. I also assist with negotiation of disputes for $440/hr. Book a chat!)
What are my qualifications as a mediator?
I specialised in Alternative Dispute Resolution for my Master of Laws, writing my thesis on the Potential for Online Dispute Resolution in Australia. I have a Grad Dip in Family Dispute Resolution, and have certifications in Workplace mediation, Trauma Informed mediation and have trained as a Child Consultant. As research assistant to Marilyn Scott, the head of the Dispute Resolution program at UTS, I spent many years investigating the principles and practice of collaborative law. I have assisted in the peaceful resolution of many commercial disputes between small businesses, sole traders, online entrepreneurs and their clients.
Why is online dispute resolution important?
As an online entrepreneur, it is very common for the people we deal with to be in other states or even other countries. That can severely limit our options and dramatically increase the costs of finding a resolution when a dispute arises. Too often, we are left feeling that there is nothing we can do about a painful situation, so we just let it go, regardless of how bad that makes us feel, or how unfair the situation is. With online mediation, we make use of the same technology that we use to run our businesses. Zoom online video conferencing is ideal for mediation as it allows for a face to face meeting between people who are physically distant from each other.
Michelle helped me completely reframe the urgency and difficulty of the problem....
I came to Michelle for advice about an awkward client I was dealing with. She helped me realise that I could let go of my attachment to getting the situation resolved immediately and that calmed my agitation. She really helped me step back and view the bigger picture.
Michelle also gave me perspective, pointing out that this situation may not get solved or go my way. And I recognised that that’s okay. A solution doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I went from trying to control the outcome to more open-minded about there being many paths I could take. Overall, I felt that Michelle provided me an alternative to getting all legal on them!
Michelle can help you walk the path between your problem and the full-on legal approach. She focuses on helping everyone get a good outcome and can lift you out of any combative situations into a peaceful resolution or graceful way to move forward.
Kris Emery // Author