I’ve recently been looking at updating the website I set up for my mediation practice, LKW Family Mediation. I have an idea of what I want to achieve with the website re-vamp but I must confess that my technical knowledge around websites is not brilliant. Hardly surprising really given this was the first website I set up and you tend to acquire new skills as and when they’re needed, or you develop an interest in them. I asked on twitter to find a recommendation for someone with the technical skills I lacked. Since then I have been inundated with tweets, DMs, emails and even a phone call from companies telling me what they can do. I’ve spoken to a few and explained what I am trying to achieve and asked what they could do for me. I’ve also explained my complete lack of techie knowledge in this area. A number of people have spent time telling me what I need, and others what I don’t need (and sometimes both). A couple have taken on board the fact that I have limited understanding and broken it down into language I can understand. Many have simply talked in their own language and left me utterly baffled. I eventually decided on someone who was recommended to me (note that means you lovely web people can now all stop sending me your sales pitches).
In the midst of trying to decide on a course of action for my website it struck me how many parallels there are between this and a new client coming to see a mediator, lawyer or counsellor. They may simply be armed with the knowledge that their relationship or marriage is in difficulties and that they need to do something about it. They may even have decided that the marriage or relationship is at an end. Unless they routinely go through marriage break ups (which, let’s face it, is very rare) they are unlikely to have much idea of what happens when faced with a marriage or relationship ending. They will be unfamiliar with the legalities (beyond what a quick google search may tell you), the processes and the language. They may simply have an idea of what they would like to achieve. This is likely to be a practical picture of how the would like their arrangements to look after a separation. It may, or may not, be realistic.
It also struck me how confusing it must be when you don’t understand something and you have various different people telling you what you do and don’t need. Without understanding what the processes and technicalities are, you cannot make an informed choice for yourself. It’s difficult to take on board advice from different people when you don’t understand what they’re talking about, and you’re acutely aware that they want your business. It’s even more confusing when you factor in trying to decide whether you need a lawyer, mediator, or counsellor (or all 3); and whether you need mediation, collaborative law, arbitration or a hybrid of those processes.
In sorting out the website I came to the conclusion that I needed 3 things:
1. To work with someone who seemed to grasp what I was trying to achieve and who spoke to me in a language I could understand.
2. A recommendation from someone I trusted that the company was good.
3. A better understanding of such technical things and I have therefore been trying to make myself a bit better informed.
I think those 3 things extend well to clients who are going through a relationship break down. So if you are finding yourself in this position consider whether the professionals you have spoken to have helped to give you those 3 things. Family practitioners also need to consider whether they are offering those 3 things. Do you talk to clients in a language they can understand? Would people recommend your services? If not maybe it’s time to re-think your approach.