eBusiness Blog

The Key to Success Is In Your Own Awareness

The Key to Success Is In Your Own Awareness

Awareness in life is a very important concept.

Awareness in business is critical to success.

As I observe situations and people, I realize that there are those who have awake and alert perceptions and those who just plod along, unaware of the challenges that their environment presents.

Acuity of mind is part being settled in an understanding of where you are and how your actions, or business relates to others. if you open an enterprise blind to the challenges, you may succeed, if luck goes your way, or your qualities are such that no-one can stop you.

For the rest of us, our business success will depend on understanding how our product or service fits into the marketplace and what challenges there are to present them to the buying public. 

Awareness of the circumstances and situations that surround you gives you the information to make appropriate decisions that are logically or intuitively intended to enhance your commercial opportunities.

Those who are aware will be more in tune to their intuition.

These are the “gut feelings’ that we have are really based on information we receive. We just process it differently than long analytical inquiries. We also need to process this information against all the alternatives and decide whether our intuitive or longer-term analysis provides us with the best answer.

Therefore, awareness is information.

With information you can ask others their opinion or decide yourself. The main advantage of, “vision of information” is that you have all the right ingredients to assist you in deciding how to grow, when to expand, when to retrench or when to leave your business as is.

It will help you decide which of your ideas have legs and are valid and which should be put on hold.

Situational awareness will help in so many other ways as we tweak our business models. Seeing what you competition is doing, what new upstarts are planning, and what mistakes are made by those who are losing business will assist you in making the right business and marketing decisions.

Information is powerful so don’t ignore it! Be aware.

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.


Settling Your Disputes Founded on Business Sense, Not Compromise

Settling Your Disputes Founded on Business Sense, Not Compromise

How to determine if you should settle a dispute or go to court

Settling disputes sometimes is based in compromise but it should always be founded on business sense.

There are several alternatives to court which need to be considered when deciding a course of action. There are also internal considerations which must be addressed before deciding how to settle a dispute.

The alternatives to court are, discussion, negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Each process has its own methodology and leads in a different direction. They all should, if successful, result in a principled settlement of the issues.

Discussion is the most informal way of convincing others to resolve some matter to the best interests of all the parties.

Negotiation is focused discussion. In this discipline parties need to consider the interests of the other parties and by proposals and counter-proposals arrive at an agreement.

Mediation puts a structure on negotiation, as well as adding a facilitator or mediator to assist in the process. The mediator by his or her neutrality is able to assist in taking paths that lead to places where the common interests of all parties can be addressed and a formal agreement or contract of finalization can be agreed to.

Sometimes, parties alone are not capable of altering their positions without the guidance of an objective and neutral third party.

Arbitration, like court, has a judge-like figure make a binding decision. It can be effective where matters are black and white and no compromise middle-ground is possible. However, remember that a decision by an arbitrator may mean that instead of win/win there is a winner and a loser.

Winning in Negotiation

As one reflects, it isn’t the win/loss of the negotiation that really matters; it is the putting of the pieces together in a context that makes some sense in the grand scheme of things.

Without sounding too softly philosophical, I believe that one should view negotiations as a means to put pieces of a particular life venture together.

Today, I think I win, tomorrow you think you win. The scorecard doesn’t really matter.

What is important, is that negotiations help to fulfill the quilted pattern of life scenarios, and that the various individual successes, when joined together, form a knit of accomplishment which benefits all.

This enjoined benefit forms the backbone for a successful negotiation for winning is more comprehensive than just the last entry on the scorecard.

Another consideration that needs to be taken under consideration, is how any dispute, settled or not,

Finally, consider the time and effort necessary to finalize any matter. If it’s important or principled, then time spent may be more justified than if it is less vital.

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.


Why a Conversation Hub is Needed in Dispute Resolution

Why a Conversation Hub is Needed in Dispute Resolution

The Story of Five Men in a Sauna…

Five men in a sauna can be awkward, with a silence that hangs like anticipatory drips of sweat, all water, and no flow.

Metaphorically silly as this may be, it leads to an important lesson about human interaction.

Sometimes, when I attend the local pool and have a sauna, there is great interaction and evident display of personality, viewpoints and beliefs. Today, it was silent; five men fighting personal battles against the heat with not a word spoken.

When I realized that all of us at that particular time lacked the personality attribute of being a conversation hub, it revealed to me a social dynamic that plays out, time and time again.

Recall how many social situations you have been in where a group of people can’t seem to shake the shyness and create a buzzing social dialogue.

Now put a certain personality in the room and most if not all parties are suddenly talking. Often, when the social hub leaves the room, the conversation shrinks backwards towards its earlier low level.

I also saw the applicability of this scenario to a dispute resolution discussion.

The shy and introverted will not have any less opinions than the more extroverted individuals. However, these ideas may not come to the surface to be debated or agreed with to the same degree as those which are worn on the sleeve or voiced in terms of certainty.

As opinions lead to the discovery of interests, a Dispute Resolution Professional needs to be able to determine who has strong opinions on a disputed matter and then explore these opinions to determine what, and how firmly held, the pivotal interests are of all parties to the dispute.

Therefore, the metaphorical question becomes, if you are sitting with four others in the sauna, how do you know what they are thinking if they say nothing? 

Short of body language or facial signal recognition techniques, the answer may be, you don’t. However, that cannot be the end of your efforts as a Dispute Resolution Professional. In a mediation, you must learn to engage those who are silent, either directly, or through another who may have the gift of conversation generation.

Conversation Generation

This is a concept that I am developing as an alternative to direct intervention.

The Dispute Resolution Professional does not always need to be the one to confront the silent ones with respect to gaining knowledge. If there is a person engaged in the process who has the personality to generate conversation, it might be advisable to use this indirect approach to stir the conversational matrix.

If this occurs, then even those less prone to direct expression may speak to the issue at hand and as a consequence illuminate their thoughts, which may differ from hard-sided stated positions as discussed earlier in the more positional opening part of a mediation.

The lessons from the sauna are twofold:

There are those who keep their thoughts to themselves. If their assistance or acquiesce is required, then it is necessary to have discovery and exploration of their very thoughts and the effect of how the illuminating of their inner needs and concerns will have on determining how to best serve their interests.

This can be accomplished in at least two ways:

The first is with direct contact such as open ended questions and direct but polite investigation as to their concerns and ultimately their interests.

The other lesson, is to let this information come from the discussion, and as conversation becomes more at ease to the parties, there is greater likelihood of insight into the underlying interests of the parties.

A few weeks ago I saw the same principle at work at the gym at The Semiahmoo Resort, where we keep our boat. Every morning, my friend Dan, a retired employee from Boeing who lives on his boat in the marina, is in the gym at 6am. Now you can imagine, that at that hour, there are a lot of quiet people working out. But not when Dan is there.

He has the gift that makes him a conversation hub. He engages people until we are all contributing to the conversation and learning a lot about each other’s disparate lives.

When I put this to him, he explained that at Boeing that was what he did. He engaged and liaised between different parties and organizations including government agencies to resolve matters and some to agreements on outstanding issues.

Sounds like a mediator’s job to me. For now I will appoint him Dan of the Gym.

This approach allows you to use the assets in the room to seek the information that is required to resolve disputes in a principled manner.

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.


Understanding the Decision-Making Process for Ideal Outcomes

Understanding the Decision-Making Process for Ideal Outcomes

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

The business world is full of them. The question is how do you make them?

Maybe the more important question is, how you make them in a manner that is positive for your business and you.

As a lawyer and a mediator, I must advise clients or guide them through the decision-making world every day, for they usually realize that in difficult matters of law or negotiation, outside advice is highly valued.

Decisions are based on analysis and application of analysis to our particular inclinations.

Do we want to make money, prove a point or respect a principle? Once we understand the process, better decisions can be made.

Star Trek the next Generation is the perfect metaphor for this type of situation. Captain Jean Luc Picard standing tall on the bridge in a tricky situation often called out to his first officer, “Number One –options.”

Advice is important, maybe even vital.

People say to me all the time, “I want to sue that person or company because they did…” The technical analysis would be, did they do anything which would allow you to have a civil lawsuit? Is there a cause of action?

Then, consider other factors that may be relevant: Do I want to be involved in a long lawsuit or is there a more mature and rewarding way of rectification?

Other ingredients that get in the way of good decision making:

  • Ideology
  • Taste
  • Short term considerations
  • Long-term considerations

The subjective influences of others that are influential on how we approach these questions is another ingredient.

We may be influenced by those we know, like or even dislike.

Decisions are complex and what is important for you may be immaterial to me.

Emotion, love it or hate it has a huge influence on decision making. Taking action while dealing with the biological effects of temper will certainly influence what you do.

I’m not saying that temper is wrong for it may help you escape from the malaise of indifference but I am saying that it must be managed.

E-mail responses are one of the best examples of this.

They are particularly dangerous because they leave a written trail. However, so can phone messages. I am working today on a matter where phone messages were e-mailed to me.

The important thing to consider is the impact and the permanency of your decision.

My advice would be to gather all information, formulate it in your mind and then consider the cognitive and intuitive signals that take you in a certain direction.

As a lawyer, I always stress considering options before problems occur for foresight avoidance is easier than extrication from a legal mess.

However, once you must determine a course of action, weigh up the reasons for a particular decision and consider its impact on various aspects of your business life. It may concern the returning client and therefore relations need to reflect this.

On the other hand you might be trying to make a point for other clients, so burning the bridges with one may not be negative.

So make your decisions, make them well and listen to the advice of those who are wise between the ears.

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.


What to Do When You’re Owed Money

What to Do When You're Owed Money

What do you do when you realize that your customer may not pay you the money due for your goods or services?

Aside from uttering an expletive to nobody in particular, you need to realize that this is all about cause and effect. We in the sale of goods and services industry need to understand that getting paid is a function of risk management.

Statistically, there will be some who won’t pay, either for circumstances that have snuck up and overwhelmed them or in the minority of cases because they are devious cheaters, prepared to take advantage of honest business owners.

What we can do to minimize the risk is consider the types of transactions, which we enter, and determine, which ones hold the most risk for non-payment.

Once that has been decided, then policies and processes need to be put into place to minimize the risk. Rules such as payment before delivery, bank drafts, verified credit cards might be necessary in these situations.

Let’s not forget that the most important determinant is whom are we dealing with. How do we feel about their “payment credibility”?

If the little professor says be careful, then listen and act accordingly for those are probably the problem transactions. Try not to lend money to friends as that may end the friendship. If you do, try and get some security, like a registered mortgage or at least a promissory note.

If all of the above has failed to prevent a debtor-creditor situation, the following actions should be considered:

  • Contact the debtor and try and work through a payment agreement. Do this as soon as you can so the debt does not get stale. Be prepared to discuss the situation with them and try to work through the problems that may be preventing payment.
  • Be prepared to negotiate. As long as you don’t set a precedent which labels you as a soft touch, negotiation can put you in a better position than if you become positional and stubborn. Therefore, a discount is better than no payment at all. Please remember, that once you try to collect money, your costs of lost time, lawyers and court fees will come out of your bottom line.

Yes, you can write a letter demanding payment but unless the debtor feels the pressure of a follow-up like court action or credit reporting they may stall and ignore.

This brings up the concept of litigation. It is great to use when necessary but also costly, time lengthy and stressful. Certainly if you are owed $50,000 plus then hiring a lawyer and starting action in the SCBC makes sense if you have a winnable case and there are assets which can be attached by a judgment so that not only do you get your claim paid but also a small portion of your court /lawyer costs.

For lesser sums or cases that may be difficult to prove, the costs of litigation may make it too expensive to consider.

In B.C., one of the best options is Small Claims Court where a Provisional Court Judge will have jurisdiction to award up to $25,000. You can reduce your claim to get under this limit.

The advantages of this process are, you can proceed without a lawyer and the court provides for mediation before a trial. The Court Registry will assist in providing the forms and advice for starting an action.

To avoid big losses, when dealing with future business transactions, consider where your vulnerabilities are, make processes to alleviate them and remember all your customers, even those having problems, may be the returning cornerstones of your business.

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.


Incorporating Story Telling for Business Success

Story telling with typewriter

Lawyers; love us or hate us, we are an important part of society’s free flow of business. We defend the rule of law and the interests of our clients including the right to conduct their business without unlawful interference.

However, in today’s competitive world, we must promote ourselves and our businesses as well.

Hopefully, reputation for good work is enough. Nevertheless, in an ever increasingly diverse world of communications, we find ourselves shoulder to shoulder with retailers and members of the service community, in a search for the most effective message.

As a provider of conveyancing services and wills, I find, surprisingly, that many people will make decisions on the use of our services based on price.

If you step back and consider whether you would make an important decision concerning your estate or the purchase of your home on whether you could save twenty-five or fifty dollars, you might say no. You might, instead of being overly price-sensitive, go to the practitioner of your choice, and the reasons for that choice, would include reputation and other salient criteria that suggest your work will be done to your satisfaction.

Nevertheless, price is what it is, and yes, one can always use it as a means to obtaining work, as we have a free market, and price freedom is an important part of a democratic society.

However, if you can charge reasonable fees and do not want to be looking over your shoulder to compete with price sensitivity as a grounds for work intake, do what all successful lawyers do at trial; tell a story; tell your story.

This does not exclude social media and other means of publicity, for telling your story in an empty barn, may as the old adage goes, be no noise at all. Therefore, with good taste, tell your story and hopefully the work will follow.

In court, the relating of what happened, will, if backed by evidence and a reasonable submission, receive favourable attention from the judge or jury.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Leask told me as much last week. We all like a story, particularly if it conclusively progresses before we lose interest, and if in an entertaining way, it leaves us more enlightened, either in our imaginations, or in the storehouse of our analytical minds.

If a bicycle retailer explains in their advertising their history, the kind of work they do and even any customer satisfaction comments, then they have provided a reasonable platform for a prospective customer or client to make a decision.

Story telling is bi-useful. We need to tell our story to get the work and then, for those of us in a persuasive or selling industry, we need to tell the story of our client or product to allow their rights to be protected or for our products to be well known and in demand.

All of us who are in business need our stories to be upfront, transparent and reasonable. Only then we can make a decent living and maybe vacation in Maui.  At least that the way it should work!

Bryce Jeffery

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.


When Ethical Business Decisions Require Your Little Professor…

Your Little Professor

Maybe we all know what this means or maybe none of us do.

I attended a discussion seminar last night about ethical business decisions in my profession as a lawyer/mediator. It got me considering how grey the topic can be, and upon listening to my colleagues wrestle with some example fact patterns, I came up with my own definition of what ethical conduct means to me:

“In my profession, as a mediator, I must sign off on a process that incorporates an ethical baseline, at least one that I am comfortable with.”

You may rightly say that this avoids the question.

You may ask, what is my ethical baseline? Good question!

However, what this accomplishes is the acknowledgement that there is a standard to which one should beholden to.

Next, is the determination of what that standard should be?

To assist in this quest, look to the sources that people rely on generally whether it be based in religion, philosophy, law or other disciplines.

Then, narrow your focus. What is it that your business colleagues say about the proper way of deciding issues that have some ethical content?

Perhaps your profession has a set of rules or a code to regulate conduct. Usually, these rules are based on years of experience in dealing with difficult issues. It is always a good idea to review them once in a while.

The situation that you face has probably been experienced by senior members of your business community and instructions as to the best handling of them may have been codified.

Okay, so now we know there may be some rules out there that can guide us.

Does this answer the question?

Well, maybe yes, maybe no.

I would suggest that information like this provides a good guide to ethical decision making.

However, the next and arguably most important step is running ethical decisions by your rational thought process and the “Little Professor.”

Rational thought is the logical process of analytical processing.

You may debate in your mind, the aspects of the situation, using all of the above information to come to a conclusion of where your ethical barometer should be placed.

Debate and consideration are always good ways to formulate a policy or decision, but we must not forget the “Little Professor.”

Well my use of the term is adapted and slightly modified from the reference to it in psychology. In my context, I refer to your inner intuitive self.

Most of us know what we think is right and what is wrong, with little need for research.

Our inner Little Professor sends us signals and provides us with guidance and warning 24/7. Some call it “our gut” sense.

Many writers suggest that these signals may in many circumstances be more reliable than long thought-out analysis.

While that point is still being considered by mind-masters, I would suggest that when looking for your ethical baseline, look inward, for the answer may already be resting in the chambers of your intuitive Little Professor self.

I guess I did answer the earlier question after all, for, if I feel uncomfortable about something in my business life, it may be a signal to then have a logical look at what is going on and see if there is an ethical standard about to be breached.

While ethics are in my view important in a civilized society, there are other positive things that we as business people can do to support our communities at home or abroad, but that is another discussion for another day.

Bryce Jeffery

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.


Negotiation: The Importance of Positive Business Interactions

Listening to clients via negotiation

As a lawyer and a mediator I find much of my time spent with the construct of negotiation. As an introduction, here are a few of my thoughts on this very wide and pervading concept:

All our businesses are interdependent with external forces and entities. Therefore, we as entrepreneurs need to be well equipped to have positive interactions with the outside world. Not many of us would have thriving businesses if all our energies were internalized with little regard for outside perceptions.

The reality is, that unless we have the most unique and sought after product or service imaginable, we must present ourselves to the world in a manner that brings business to our doors.

You might wonder what this has to do with negotiation?

Well, it has everything to do with negotiation, for this process starts way before most think it does.

We can all picture the iconic negotiation when buying a car or a piece of real estate. Images of salesmen running offers back to the manager or real estate contracts with crossed out prices and writing in the margin, come to mind.

However, negotiation really starts when you hang out your shingle.

It is a means of communicating with those who might be interested in using your products or services.
By putting a sign in front of your shop, you are presenting an invitation to the public to make offers to you. In law we have referred to this as an invitation to treat.

The process does not stop there.

All dealings with potential customers are a prelude to the final negotiation where an offer is made and accepted, rejected or counter-offered. From the point of initial interest, negotiation should be a seamless tool on the road to the conclusion of a sale.

One of the most important considerations is that the process is so multi-faceted that even small nuances in your business presentation are an understated part of this process.

Therefore; presentation, customer service, product quality and pricing all have their place in the eventual sale or non-sale. To consider that you don’t negotiate because there is no specific haggling over the stated price would be wrong.

You can view negotiation as the process that motivates and encourages the prospective customer to accept your invitation to treat, by making you an offer that you accept.

Negotiating is a tactical way of coming to a bargain and of entering a contract for sale of whatever goods and services your business deals in.

The tactical part of negotiating can often fill a book, but for right now, let it be said, that, an astute party will always consider process from a tactical or strategic perspective by analyzing their presentation, business relations, ease of accessibility, channels of approach and a myriad of other ideas that have the goal of assisting their sales and business bottom line.

By approaching these practices from a consumer’s mindset, you will make your business enticing and successful.

Aristotle once said,

Let’s also not forget that most businesses need to purchase goods and services in order to feed their own production capabilities so the shoe will often be on the other foot as we business owners bargain for those items or services that we require.

The epilogue to this short introduction to business negotiation is that we must remember that the next deal is just around the corner and how we conclude our business transactions will reflect how much return work we receive from the customer or those whom the customer will or will not recommend us to.

Happy negotiating,
Bryce Jeffery

About the Author, Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery

Bryce Jeffery has practiced law in BC for 28 years and been a commercial mediator for the last 14. Situated in Langley, he practices under the title, MB JEFFERY LAW and concentrates on conveyancing, mortgages, and wills and estates. Bryce's mediation practice makes him the most travelled mediator in BC with frequent stops throughout the interior, the north and Vancouver Island. He is also the author of Commercial Mediation, A Passionate Practice.

Visit his website at www.mbjlaw.ca to see how he can assist you and your business.