When did you last really talk to your family?

Picture of John Broons
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?

In the hustle and bustle of daily operations, it’s easy to neglect the power of regular conversation within your own families. Yet, it is through heartfelt discussions that we build trust, extinguish ghosts from the past, and strengthen the very foundation of your family business.

Family members walking on their plowed field discussing their family farming business
The power of conversation: nurturing communication in your family business

In this article I delve into the importance of regular communication, drawing inspiration from your own experiences and the wisdom shared in having real and honest conversations with your family. So, when did you last truly speak with your loved ones, with your business partners? Let’s dive into this important topic and discover how meaningful conversations can lead your family business to even greater heights.

Unearthing important conversations

Reflect on the conversations that are waiting to be had within your family business. Are there unresolved issues or uncomfortable topics that linger in the shadows? Whether it’s succession planning, business decisions, or personal matters, these discussions are the cornerstone of a thriving family business. Acknowledge that no matter the excuses or reasons for avoidance, if a conversation is important enough, it needs to be initiated. It’s time to take the lead and instigate and open the dialogue.

Considering mediation and third parties

In some cases, bringing in an external, objective third party can facilitate constructive conversations. This could be a trusted advisor, consultant, or mediator who can guide discussions and ensure fair participation. The presence of a neutral person can ease tensions, create a safe space, and facilitate a more productive dialogue. By seeking outside help, we can navigate sensitive topics with grace and ensure that all perspectives are respectfully heard.

Creating neutral grounds

Territorial rights can cloud conversations, inhibiting openness and cooperation. To foster productive dialogue, consider setting aside time and meeting in neutral surroundings. By doing so, you create an atmosphere of equality where no individual holds dominance over the conversation. This approach encourages everyone to contribute freely, fostering a sense of unity and shared responsibility for the family business success.

Breaking the silence: the perils of withholding communication

Just as a small pebble in your shoe can lead to discomfort, withholding communication can have serious consequences. What may start as a minor concern or unresolved issue can grow over time, becoming a rock, a hill, and eventually a mountain too massive to overcome. As family business leaders, it is your responsibility to address these matters promptly, for the sake of your business and the well-being of your families. Embrace open-hearted conversations and prevent the accumulation of emotional baggage that can hinder growth and harmony.

Regular communication lies at the heart of successful family businesses. By daring to engage in meaningful discussions, we lay the groundwork for unity, trust, and shared vision. Let’s not forget the joy and pride that comes from being part of a family business that thrives, not only financially but also emotionally. Through open dialogue, we navigate the challenges, cherish the triumphs, and build a legacy that will endure for generations to come.

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