10 (plus one!) tips for strong families (Part 1)

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

Many of the families that we work with use their strong relationships as a competitive advantage for their business.  The underlying trust and goodwill towards each other are distinct benefits when individuals know their family has their backs and are there for them. The workplace is a pleasant, productive environment where employees are confident in how decisions are made.  However, there are also families where the relationships are a distinct disadvantage for the business. The tension between members makes the environment uncomfortable; the employees are not sure who to please or are getting direction from multiple members who disagree with each other.

Inevitably, when the relationships are troublesome, there is blame: “If I could just get my brother to stop meddling in my department;” or “She micromanages every action in her department.”  I call it the “If I could just get them to…” trap.  The finger pointing goes outward instead of inward. Strong families are made up of individuals who point the finger at their own nose and challenge their own behaviors.

Here are 11 behaviors that individuals from strong families do to keep their competitive advantage:

1) Don’t Waste Time Playing in the Pity Puddle

Life is full of challenges; it gets rough. Blend family and business together and it can be a tempestuous storm. Strong family members don’t waste time by thinking woe is me. They get themselves out of the Pity Puddle by focusing on their gratitude list. And they really focus on it.  When I work with families who are having trouble, their homework assignment is to focus on what they are grateful about each other. And sometimes it’s hard! Strong family members don’t stay in the Pity Puddle long – they focus on gratitude list and add to it every day.

2) Laugh at Themselves and with Each Other

Strong family members realize that they are human and subject to some not-so-pleasing behaviors themselves. They fight against being defensive and are able to laugh when others point out their shortcomings. Laughter is a wonderful elixir. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins and produces a general sense of well-being. When we can laugh at ourselves, and with our family members, we can produce a shared sense of feeling good. Strong family members look at reasons to laugh at themselves and with (not at) each other.

3) See their Family through Rose-Colored Glasses

Strong family members look at their family and see the good, not the bad. We all have a choice in how we want to view the world; we all have a choice in what we see in individuals. Strong family members choose to look for the positives in their family, not dwell on the negatives. It is easy to say that your family is dysfunctional. Our own worlds are all about our perceptions of them. Strong family members tend to view their families as a source of strength and good.

4) Don’t Let Others Have Power over Them

Strong family members believe they control their own emotions. They accept that it is their choice to be bothered by someone else’s behavior. Strong family members rarely believe other’s drive them crazy. They are able to walk side by side without reacting. They check and control their emotions so they can interact instead of react.

5) Be the Change Agent

Strong family members don’t repeat negative messages about each other. They don’t keep their family stuck in the same place by waiting for someone else to change. They accept that if they keep doing what they’re doing, they are going to keep getting what they’re getting. Strong family members accept that they need to be the change that they seek in the situation. By being the change agent, and staying the course, others will be able to change, too.

Our next post will share six more tips about what strong families do to keep their competitive advantage.

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