If you go to bridgesmj.ca, and click on "About", you'll learn more about Moose Jaw's John Seargeant and his business, Bridges Communication Group.
John Seargeant, Q.Med, (qualified mediator) owns and operates Bridges Communication Group and is taking time to get the word out to the community that he's here and ready to assist you.
As he states on his website, "Conflict occurs daily. Bridges Communications Group seeks to navigate ways to bridge the differing views to a common solution. Our business helps facilitate conversations for when it matters. We exist to help the community face conflict differently. We use mediation processes to help uncover priorities, expectations and assumptions for our clients. We specialize in family mediation. This includes discussions about parenting schedules, child support and property division. We can help address conflict in your community, group, workplace or religious institution. We also offer relationship consulting services for dating, premarital and married couples. Our staff has managed conflict within businesses, churches, families and workplaces across Saskatchewan."
John is looking forward to helping you with your challenges as mediation has been gaining momentum as a preferred method of resolving conflict.
"We are putting the decision process back in the parties' hands instead of asking a stranger or, in this case, a judge, to tell us what's going to be imposed on us. What is happening across the province, in the family court system, is that they are mandating families...to be required to see mediators, arbitrators, collaborative lawyers as well as parenting coordinators before they would be able to proceed into the court system," John explained.
"I think it's 28% of families are still in the court system four years after they start an application for divorce. Usually, the average is about 22 months that the court files are taking whereas in mediation, in 6 to 8 weeks, we can complete the whole divorce proceeding," John said.
John says when you go to mediation at Bridges Communication Group, it's straight-up conversation that digs into your issues head-on.
"Absolutely. These are decisions people will live with every day. These decisions will impact their family's future...we make decisions today that we can come back to in two years' time if they like. We have that opportunity to change the plan whereas in the courts, we're going to get back in the queue to try to resolve what should be resolved in simple conversations."
John says a big focus in mediation is unpacking assumptions, concerns and fears that many people have.
"Every relationship has those unique qualities to them. There are challenges that come up and fears - sometimes we don't even know how to address what's bugging us...we don't know how to talk about our value system and, sometimes in a conflict, we don't know how to slow down and look back...We need to look for hope and move the family forward because we can't change the past, but we can change the future."
John has experience with a number of different scenarios, including conflict in the workplace.
"Yes, in the workplace, what we sometimes find is that people are missing work and when employers look at it, they see there is a conflict that is affecting their health and so, because it's affecting their health, if they don't get it resolved, their productivity is impacted...When we stop and take a look, we can address the concerns, fears and the assumptions that could be limiting productivity."
Bridges Communications Group also specializes in parent/teen conflict.
"I work with families and, of course, there are intact families that are having issues with their teenagers...We can discuss the issues including conflict from the teens' point of view. We've found some teens listen to their parents' stories of their youth and find, when they try to do the same things, they feel like their parents are limiting their ability to do those things. The reality is the parents have learned from their experience, but some don't know how to address that and have those conversations about why it matters about the decisions that are being made within the family," John explained.
John says it's most rewarding to sit down with a family and find solutions.
"Most of the time, it's just that lack of communication. When we stop and parents say, 'You know what? This is important to me', it creates a better future for the parents and their kids as well."
And, while John enjoys working with families, he says most of his cases deal with separation and divorce.
"Yes, that's usually the main part of my business, taking those families that were together and trying to untangle the mess that's been caused by the breakdown of the relationship. There are different elements that are always going to be tied together. Families don't end - the marriage might have ended, but the family doesn't. The family structure needs to continue forward so you're still going to be dad and you're still going to be mom but then there are the property concerns and who's going to have the kids? Who's going to take the kids to soccer? All those elements are questions that some families need help to address."
John says he knows from experience, having a mediator in the room can open up the lines of communication.
"We can talk all we want but unless somebody is hearing what you're saying - in my world, it's listening to understand instead of listening to reply. It's understanding why the person feels the way they feel. It allows us, not necessarily to agree with it, but to understand where they're coming from. That's what mediators are. We don't impose decisions. We look at situations. I like to think of it as looking down from the balcony and watching a play develop. Then we report back and say, 'This is what I see in happening in this situation' and then the parties can see where there might be some misunderstanding happening in their relationship."
John says doing business with Bridges Communication Group will open the doors to a network of supports.
"I'm looking at a present and future focus with what I do but you may need counsellors to be involved in the relationship. We need real estate agents to help us when it's time to sell the house and they need to understand the unique situations the families are in. We need the insurance people and financial advisors to help us understand what can and cannot be done. I have the overview of what happens, but we need all these people together, to network together, to help our families have the best future here in Moose Jaw."
And while digging into the past is an important conversation as you seek a resolution to a conflict, John says when he goes into a mediation his main focus is on the present and the future.
"I like to think of it as like driving a car. We have a rear-view mirror of where we've been, but ultimately, if we focus too much on the past, we're not able to look and see what's developing in front of us - the potholes that are still going to come up in the future and the detour signs that are there. If we're focused on the past, we're going to cause a lot more damage. It's important to look at the past but, what we do in mediation, is look at the present moment and decide what we need to do today that's going to help us in the future. So, for example, when birthdays or certain family events are occurring, we decide what our strategies are going to be and if it doesn't work, we can come back to the table and we can look at another strategy," John explained.
And while mediation sounds like a simple process, John says it does require patience from both parties because it is exactly that - a process.
"Oh, absolutely. There are different elements we walk you through. We prepare the foundation of what we're going to do in mediation and then identify the issues that are there and explore the issues further and then start creating the solutions after we ask, 'What are the things that are possible to solve this situation?', then we do some reality testing and ask, 'Is it actually possible that these solutions are going to work in the future?' We meet one-on-one with the parties to explain what it is we're doing and then from that point, we then have joint sessions to go through the different elements...the mediator is going to ask you to help create the agenda," John said.
John says he's finding mediation works very well in certain situations and for certain families because you can take time to address a diverse range of areas that may be impacting you or you and your family.
"Yes, from family relationships to employment, accidents, banking and financial situations, instead of going to court, it's an alternative. And since 1997, the family courts have been able to use mediation as one of their processes and it's going to be mandated, federally, in the near future to attempt a family dispute resolution process before being able to continue with any further court proceedings."
John wants local people to know, bringing a conflict to him at Bridges Communication Group can save you time, stress and money.
"Oh, goodness, yes! It saves us time and how can you put a price on what our mental health is worth? So, it takes quite some time to go through the courts and then, you finally have a court date, and the other party isn't ready to meet...in mediation, you're sitting down in an informal setting - you and the other party with a mediator, sitting together, saving so much time and so much money...sometimes legal bills are costing $25,000.00 whereas, in a mediation, our bills can be around $3000.00 to $5000.00 collectively."
Another consideration John says is important when you're deciding on how to solve a conflict is privacy. What goes in mediation stays in mediation.
"Confidentiality. Yes. In mediation, it's a private, informal situation. You're dealing with your family business behind closed doors and it's not out there for everyone to see. A lot of people are not aware, when they go to court, the court records become public. Later on in life, you can go and Google your parents' divorce and see how the property was settled. I wouldn't want everyone to know my business...that's something that should be private. In my world, in mediation, we have private and confidential conversations."
And what's more, in mediation, it's not the mediator making the decisions. It's people coming together to find their own solutions to their dispute.
"The parties are creating the solution and writing their own agreements up with the help of the mediator. They're finding the way to move forward...instead of having somebody tell you, 'This is what you have to do', the parties are able to follow the way that they see best."
Bridges Communications Group can also assist local families with elder mediation to help you have conversations about the conflict that can occur as we age.
"Yes, all those things that we don't know how to talk about with our kids so when we're ageing, what's going to happen with the estate? All those conversations, while we have the legal capacity to have them, it's important for us to look at them as a family. It's having that conversation as a family that helps us to lay out those plans that we have while we're still able to...for a lot of families it's a grief journey but they're also looking at the estate and how the property will be settled, and they may not understand why."
Whether it's a workplace issue, parent/teen conflict, separation or divorce or other family issues, John Seargeant from Bridges Communication Group wants you to know he's here to help you find solutions.
You can reach John by phone or text at 306-513-8235. You can email at [email protected], follow Bridges Communications Group on Facebook and Instagram and you can learn more by going to the website, bridgesmj.ca