This article was posted on Thursday, Oct 01, 2015

IT CAN SAVE YOU MONEY!  The court system is difficult to wade into when you find yourself having to file an unlawful detainer against a tenant.  Between the time it takes to serve the 3 day notice, file the unlawful detainer, get a court date, possible delays, time in court and the final lock-out by the sheriff, it can end up costing thousands of dollars.  The expenses are even more if you have to hire an attorney to represent you. 

Mediating these cases before they get to court can save time, money and stop issues from escalating.  Mediation can be used immediately, and is most effective before you file the unlawful detainer.  Many disputes start as misunderstandings and escalate to the point of a tenant withholding rent or calling the health department or worse.  These inevitably force the landlord to move forward with an eviction.  Using mediation can bring a more peaceful solution to these situations and ultimately save a tenant or possibly help to get a problem tenant to move without using the eviction process.  Creating a neutral atmosphere to talk through solutions that will benefit the landlord and the tenant is a great alternative to going to court. Mediation allows solutions that are not possible within the judicial system and therefore leads to more satisfactory solutions for all parties involved. 

In the mediations that I conduct at court, it is clear that there is a disconnect between the tenant and landlord that could have been solved if they both had taken the time to listen to each other.  By the time the parties are in court, the mediation is about when the tenant is going to move and how much money they are going to have to pay or in many cases, just getting possession of the property as soon as possible with no money being collected.  All of this could have been solved in a more peaceful way and could have also saved everyone time, money and stress.

The next time you have a problem tenant, take the time to hire a skilled mediator, it could save you thousands. 

Is Your Open Door Policy Creating  More Disputes Then it Solves?

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Over the years I have heard many small business owners and managers say that they have “an open door policy”.  Simply stated, an employee is encouraged to come in and talk with the owner/manager anytime there is something bothering them.  But many managers are ill equipped to handle the feedback that they receive from their employees, and their “open door”, could ultimately create more conflict then their good intentions were meant to alleviate.

Whether you have an MBA or a Bachelors degree in business management, a class in conflict resolution is not part of the curriculum.

The fact is that the lack of conflict resolution skills can cost a company time, money, customers and valuable employees. There are many things that an employer can do to make there “open door” a success:

  • Make sure you have time to listen to your employee.  If they have come to talk when you are in crisis mode you won’t be able to give them the attention that is needed to solve their problem.  Let them know that you appreciate them stopping by and that you want to talk to them and be able to listen, then schedule a time for them to come back for the meeting.
  • We have all been in a situation where we felt like we were not heard, understood or recognized. Learn to practice reflective listening so that your employees know they are being heard.  In its simplest form, reflective listening is to hear what the other person has said and then parrot back to them what you heard them say.  The goal is to see if you truly have heard what your employee has expressed to you and make sure that it is accurate so you can help solve the problem.
  • People tend to see what they want to see. In trying to help them solve their problem you must be able to help them see that there are two sides to every problem.  People tend to focus on their point of view; they will pick out and focus on those facts that confirm their prior perceptions and disregard or misinterpret those that call their perceptions into question. They may see only the merits of their case, and only the faults of the other side’s.
  • Ask what they would like to see happen as a result of the matter they have brought to light.  The process of working out an agreement that works for you and the employee produces a mutually satisfactory agreement that will be lasting.  It creates a working relationship that builds understanding, confidence, and respect over time that can make future meetings more fruitful.
  • Make an agreement to follow-up on how the solution is working and make changes if necessary.

    When you create a positive experience for your employees, you help create a culture within your company of openness and cooperation.  Your open door is a model for all your employees to see how to solve problems that creates an atmosphere of trust and ultimately a more profitable and peaceful organization.

    FREE* SEMINAR:  Be sure to attend the seminar which will be held on Wednesday, November 18th in the AOA Van Nuys office.  Reserve your spot by calling 800-827-4262 or sign up online at  *AOA Members and their guests may attend free – all others $39 each

Sally Patchen is with Win-Win Succeed, LLC. For more information, please visit