My apologies to Ringo Starr.  In case you’ve never heard of him, he played drums for the Beatles during the 1960’s until that family business came undone.  Wait a minute, you say, the Beatles were not family members.  Well, perhaps not by the traditional definition of family; but remember, we define a family business as two or more people together for purposes other than making money.  Whether you’re family, friends, or strictly business partners, personal and professional partnerships are a lot of work; and they require the eternal vigilance of the night watchman.

So, how’s the harmony in your family business or partnership?  Is everyone moving in the same direction?  Does everyone share the same vision?  If the answer to either of these questions is anything other than an unequivocal “YES!,” then there are some unpleasant and squeaky moments ahead.  However, a few relatively simple actions on your part can avoid the breakup of the group.

Let’s start with the hardest part first.  Listen.  Listen to family member employees, to non-family member employees, to business partners and to stakeholders.  Listen for understanding and increased awareness. Listen.   Most of us are pretty good at pretending to listen.  Then we take action and/or make decisions that cause people to wonder why they even bothered to share their thoughts.

Does listening work?  Shakespeare thought so.  He often had kings dress up as commoners and hang around campfires to learn what people really thought.  The idea has even caught on with reality TV shows featuring an undercover boss.  And, of course, contemporary marketing gurus often promote the concept of mystery shoppers as a way of learning what customers and clients actually think.

Strange, isn’t it?  Such a simple thing as listening to others seems best done in disguise, under cover, or shrouded in mystery.  By taking the wraps off and becoming a good public listener, you can:

  • Become known as a brilliant conversationalist;
  • Become an exceptional interviewer;
  • Achieve a level of sales you may never have imagined possible.

To become a more effective listener, remember that words create a variety of pictures based on the personal experiences of those hearing the words and picking up on the non-verbal cues.  Unless you name is Abraham Lincoln, people are more likely to remember the intensity of your words than they are the words themselves; so be as passionate in support as you are in opposition.

Listening.  A vital competency in becoming a highly effective person, regardless of your station in life.  So simple, but you know it don’t come easy!

It’s pretty difficult to motivate when there is a lack of harmony. 

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