Conducting negotiations with family members

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John Broons

John Broons is a globally awarded family business expert. One of only three people in Australia to hold the coveted title of Fellow of Family Firm Institute (Boston, USA), John has dedicated his working career to answering the question: how do I guide and support families in business to a place where they’re thriving?

Negotiating with family members can be a delicate situation that only those in a family business truly understand. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to approach these negotiations with empathy, respect, and a shared vision for the success of your business and the harmony of your family. In this article I will share some insights and strategies that may help you navigate conversations.

Conducting negotiations with family members
Open communication

Firstly, remember that open communication is key. Create a safe space where everyone feels heard and valued. Encourage everyone to express their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Actively listen to one another, seeking to understand before being understood. Remember, each family member brings their own experiences and perspectives to the table, and fostering an environment of mutual respect is crucial.

Define clear objectives

It’s important to define clear objectives and goals for the negotiation. Be specific about what needs to be accomplished and why it matters to the business. By establishing shared objectives, you can focus on finding solutions that benefit everyone involved. This can help foster a sense of unity and purpose, reminding everyone that you’re all working towards a common vision.

Maintain professionalism

During negotiations, it’s common for emotions to run high. After all, this is your family we’re talking about. It’s crucial to maintain a calm and professional demeanor, even in the face of disagreement. Take breaks when needed to cool off and reflect on the bigger picture. Remember, you’re all on the same team, and finding win-win solutions should be the ultimate goal.

A trusted advisor

Consider enlisting the help of a neutral third party, such as an experienced mediator or trusted family business advisor, who can provide an objective perspective and help facilitate the negotiation process. Their expertise and guidance can prove invaluable in diffusing tensions and finding creative solutions that satisfy the needs of all parties involved.

Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your successes along the way. Being part of a family business is a remarkable journey filled with unique challenges and rewards. Take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the milestones you achieve together. This not only fosters a sense of camaraderie but also reminds you of the joy and pride that comes with being part of a family legacy.

Remember, conducting negotiations with family members requires a delicate balance of business acumen and personal connection. By fostering open communication, setting clear objectives, and embracing a collaborative mindset, you’ll be well on your way to finding mutually beneficial solutions that will allow your family business to thrive.

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