Character: Build It Here
Resolving Family Conflict
Holidays give us a chance to spend more time with family and friends. All this extra time with one another can be stressful. When we are together around the dining table, or watching television, or playing games, uncomfortable situations can arise: Uncle Harry drinks a little too much, Aunt Loretta gives too many details about her latest surgery, and Grandpa gets cranky at the kids running around. Sometimes arguments ensue. That’s normal. But how do we handle it? Holiday stress comes and goes. But conflict can remain in any family year round. Finding new and better ways to resolve conflict brings peace - and - who among us couldn’t use a little more peace?
Fast Company had a headline last week that caught my attention, “Difficult Conversations: Death of the Family Farm.” I thought the article would be about the economic reasons why family farms fail, but it was really about deteriorating family relationships as the destructive factor.
As you begin to read the story, blame takes front and center. The father states that the son “had a breakdown” and the son states that the “old man has dementia”. I thought about how it has become so common in our society to ‘diagnose’ one another with serious mental disorders, as if we are trained professionals. This practice simply shows our inability to cope with the difficult work of maintaining healthy relationships. Slapping a label on someone puts them away in a box, where we don’t have to deal with the issues - theirs or ours.
The article goes on to discuss the issues of running family businesses. The Family Business Institute is cited as a resource for help. Here is some information from their website and the services they provide - which will be useful for anyone getting through the holidays - and all those other times when we find ourselves facing family strife:
Conflict is a fact in family business life. How common is conflict in family and closely held businesses? According to the Family Firm Institute, 20% of family businesses report weekly conflict, another 20% report monthly conflict, and 42% report conflict three to four times per year. You can draw your own conclusions about the 18% who report no conflict at all! It’s worth noting that not all disagreements rise to the level of conflict. Disagreement is a difference of facts, perceptions, beliefs, or expectations. Conflict is a higher level of disagreement; it’s the belief of two or more people that their positions are mutually exclusive.
When two or more individuals must act upon or implement their needs, values, or interests, and they perceive others are blocking or opposing them, conflict arises. In life, and especially in families and businesses where values and interests are deeply held and tied to future happiness, conflict is inevitable and, potentially, positive.
Rather than mask or deny inevitable conflict, conflict resolution brings deeply held differences to the surface and creates a comfortable space and set of skills to successfully move forward while enhancing the relationships involved.
Family Conflict Resolution
Husband/Wife, Parent/Child, Brother/Sister, etc. Family is all about togetherness, but togetherness is impossible without differences… thus family conflict. Family conflict resolution uses the positive emotional bonds of the family to facilitate decisions and actions in the face of conflict that has persisted and poisoned the family and the family business.
Conflict resolution is a skill that can be learned and developed for use in multiple settings with employees, vendors, and customers. Training uses the specific real life conflicts inhibiting success and offers improved communication skills to break through barriers and to speed and deepen learning.
Family councils provide families with a vehicle to entertain family projects and resolve family issues. Some of these include developing Entry Criteria for new family members to enter the family business, chronicling the family history, and ensuring that family fairness is considered in family business or wealth management decisions.
Formal, scheduled family meetings provide family members with information about the status of the family and the family business. Family members can re-connect with one another, and family issues can be discussed rather than left to fester into larger issues.
Family retreats are conducted over two to four days at an off site location. They provide a neutral venue to discuss family and family business.
The Family Business Institute Difference
Our commitment to helping you achieve breakthrough success is absolute. Drawing upon our unparalleled experience in working with family enterprises across virtually all industries and business functions, we educate our clients about the need to utilize a comprehensive and integrated approach for the benefit of their family business system. The Family Business Institute differentiates itself by addressing not only the typical financial side of the family business triangle, but also the other two sides which deal with operational and/or interpersonal issues.
Ready to Learn More?
In addition to the services listed above, the Family Business Institute can also assist you with many more services in the area of Conflict Resolution. For more information, call (877) 326-2493.