Discussing Complex Family Business Issues, the Right Way
Summer months often mean vacations with family. Family may be business partners, employees, or those who influence business decisions as a life partner, husband, or wife. The difference between a productive dialogue and a blowout conflict often boils down to choice and awareness on both sides. Timing, environment, preparation, and other dynamics influence an interaction’s positive or negative outcome.
Juggling work, relationships, and personal time makes life busy, so it can seem like there isn’t a good time to bring up important topics. It is natural to think it may be a good time to broach particular issues during downtime, but the timing must be suitable for both people. Chilling on the beach, talking about the weather, and then suddenly switching to something more complex involving family and business can catch someone off guard. Everything is fine, and unexpectedly, relationship fireworks go off, and you think, “what just happened?”
Family business balance requires awareness and setting up a win, win, win for you, the other party, and the focus of discussion. We encourage intentionally scheduling time to discuss complex topics to ensure both parties are mentally and emotionally prepared, but sometimes “things come up.” If you find yourself in this situation, below are a few clues that will help you identify if the conversation is going off the rails.
Body Language: Can you observe any tension or defensive posture in the other person?
Tone: Is the tone of voice becoming louder or more elevated?
Breathing: How is your breathing? How is their breathing? Is it becoming shallow, or is it deep and calm?
Tension: Are you feeling tension in your body, fear, anxiety, or anger?
Depending on how you observe the other person’s behavior and tone, checking in on your stress level will let you know if you are navigating safe waters. If anything seems to move into an intense feeling, check in with yourself and the other person to evaluate if picking up the conversation at another time is better. There is no business gain worth a family (or relationship) loss.
Contact Us and we can help you with insights, and other resources, and see if it makes sense to work together. At the very least, in 30 minutes, you may get some ideas you can apply to your business right away.
Family and Business alignment is hard to find when business issues liven up family dynamics.
However; with proper process, governance policies, and mutual respect built over time, a Family Business can thrive through multiple generations. Click the following links for more drill-down resources on Family Dynamics and Family Governance.