All posts by Deb Houden, Ph.D.

The Greatest Issue of Destructive Family Dynamics

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

In my last post, I shared the parallels I found between the marriage research of John Gottman, Ph.D. and how it applies to any familial relationship especially those who own/work together. Gottman dubbed the four most detrimental behaviors for a marital relationship as The Four Horsemen: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. (Criticism is discussed here.)

Defensiveness , says Gottman, is a way of blaming the other for the issue and blame has never solved any dispute. By accepting responsibility for at least your own part of the problem goes a long way in having a constructive discussion. Being defensive is like having a rubber wall around a person, never letting in any type of constructive feedback. The defensive person takes feedback and twists it to fling back at the person in order to protect themselves. Communication and problem solving get increasingly difficult with this person because attempts to better a situation are stalled from the beginning and the conflict escalates. Teenagers and young adults need to learn to graciously accept feedback and hone their own ability to change and grow. Defensiveness is an inherited trait.

The third part of The Four Horsemen is stonewalling: when one of the participants of a relationship withdraws from interaction. How many times do we see people go quiet and withdraw when things get difficult? How many times do people get flooded and not know how to manage the situation so they shut down? It happens a lot. People falsely believe that by not interacting in a time on conflict that there will be a better outcome than by confronting the negative, but the research shows that is not the case. It’s a death knell for a relationship.

Being able to talk with someone (or even argue in a constructive way) is better than shutting down. I have worked with more than a few families who have the culture of not “fighting.” The problem is that no one learns to manage conflict effectively. Stonewalling is a fierce form of control over the other person. There is no emotional connectedness with the person who is stonewalling because they have emotionally built an impenetrable wall around their psyche.

Finally, Gottman argues that the greatest predictor of divorce is contempt, and I argue it is the greatest issue of destructive family dynamics. Contempt displays include sarcasm, cynicism, eye-rolling, name-calling, tsk-ing, sneering and hostile humor. (There are more, and you know them when you see them).  Parents don’t understand how their children can act that way towards their siblings yet they demonstrate those same behaviors to their own relatives in the firm.

Contemptible actions are made to discount the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the other in such a way as to inflict incredible damage. To ignore someone who is doing that takes Herculean strength!  I have been the recipient of contempt and it is probably, to me, the absolute worst treatment anyone can do. I feel silly, angry, not valued, and completely turned off.

Imagine if that happens every day when you work someone who is related to you?  I have been in situations where parents do this to children.  What does that teach?  The parent is keeping the child one step below, always on the lower rung. How can we prepare a child to have good relationships, have confidence to take on challenges when they are made to feel inferior?  To me, contempt is akin to hatred. Who needs enemies when family members display contempt?  There is NO PLACE for displays of contempt.

I am not naïve to expect that none of the above will happen in even the most loving, respectful and constructive of relationships. Sometimes emotions take over and we become our worst self – especially with those whom we trust will forgive us. But the preparation of our children is such an important task that we really need to teach them emotional skills that help with relationships. When you find yourself behaving a little subpar (and that might take some reflecting time to let the anger subside), acknowledge your actions and admit that you are not your best self sometimes.

Gottman’s final word of advice to couples is to try to have a ratio of 5:1 in positive to negative interactions (over a long span). By conceding less than stellar behavior and combating it with some positive interaction, you will mitigate the damage from the Four Horseman. We can do that with our next gen, too. Try to remember the golden ratio to keep the Four Horseman of the Relational Death at bay. Then you will have prepared your next gen well.

For more information about next-generation development, read Deb’s article published in The Family Business Advisor: Introducing Teens and Young Adults to the Family Enterprise.


Leading the Next Gen by Example: Constructive Family Relationships

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

I was reading On Wisconsin, the alumni magazine for the University of Wisconsin, when I came across an article highlighting John Gottman, Ph.D., who graduated from Wisconsin in 1972.  I knew of Gottman’s research because I used it often when teaching an undergraduate course at Wisconsin on Interpersonal Communication.

Gottman has devoted his life study to the indicators of what makes a successful marriage. I was in the process of writing an article on preparing teens and young adults for the family enterprise and I thought this is the most important aspect of preparing anyone in a familial relationship, especially those who own/work together. A constructive family relationship is key to continuance of the family firm.

While Gottman is a noted researcher on marriages, I believe his research applies to any familial relationship, especially when preparing the next generation. Parents can teach teens and college kids how to have a constructive, open relationship with family members by treating their own relatives in the business in a healthy manner. Gottman suggests that the four most detrimental behaviors for a marital relationship are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. In fact, his accuracy in predicting divorce (when he sees these behaviors) is at 94%!

Gottman defines criticism differently than a complaint. A complaint focuses on the specific behavior, whereas criticism focuses on the character of a person. When I teach negotiations, I tell the students to separate people from the problem; focus on what the problem is at that time.  Don’t get caught up in the behaviors of the other person because that causes one to lose their most critical leverage piece: their ability to think clearly.

The same is true of familial relationships.  Don’t slay the character of the other family member.  Examples such as “He always needs to be in control” or “She is lazy” is a direct slam at their character. It solves no problems but instead exacerbates the downfall of the relationship. In some of my most conflicted family enterprise work, I see character slams repeatedly happen. The manner of character slamming becomes a habit and is passed down to the next generation.  Children mirror these types of habits and begin to believe that this is how we treat relatives.

Not good preparation for the future!

For more information about next-generation development, read Deb’s article published in The Family Business Advisor: Introducing Teens and Young Adults to the Family Enterprise.


10 (plus one!) tips for strong families (Part 2)

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

For the first five tips, see part one of this blog post!

6) Accept What Others Can and Cannot Give

Accepting what others can and cannot give is tied to being the change agent. Strong family members accept that others are different and may not be able to give what they can give. Not everyone is a great communicator. Strong family members recognize that and check in. Brother is uncomfortable talking on the phone? Text him. Sister has trouble taking on too many tasks? Ask how you can help her. Of course we can point and say, “They should. . .” but why? Strong family members accept what others can or cannot give by adjusting their own behaviors to meet their other family members ½ (and sometimes ¾) of the way.

7) Don’t Dwell on the Past

Don’t dwell in the past, either. Stay in the present and allow your family members the same courtesy. Enough said.

8) Cheer on Other’s Success (no matter how small)

A healthy family I know sends out text messages to others in their family when something good happens. A family member I know shared his son’s success in making it to the Dean’s List his first semester of freshman year.  Immediately, the brother texted his nephew saying “Great job.” This not only allowed the family member to share their success, they paid it forward by acknowledging the next generation’s success. It is a quick pat on the back. Strong family members find a reason to say to each other “Good job!”

9) Realize No One Owes Them Anything

As there is a distinct difference in feeling an obligation vs. an opportunity with the family business, so too is the belief that you have been blessed with the ability to do for yourself.  Entitlement is the poison of families and businesses. No one, not even our parents, owe us a happy family business. We owe it to ourselves. It is when individuals feel fortunate to have a family business that they strive to make it better. Strong individuals focus on what they can give, instead of what they are owed.

 10) Reflect and Adjust

The strongest leaders are those who reflect on their decisions and make changes. The strongest family members are those who review their behaviors towards their own family and make adjustments as needed. Did they hurt someone? Then they apologize immediately. Did they reach out to say, “How are you doing today?”  Did they share in the joy of their nieces or nephews triumphs? Did they keep their mouths shut and open their ears? What did or didn’t they do, and what do they need to adjust?  Strong family members reflect each day on their own behaviors and change what needs to be changed.

11) Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Strong family members understand that any relationship needs continuous attention.  It is not a one-and-done kind of deal. A family I work with continually addresses the challenges they face.  They realize that years of negative behaviors cannot change overnight and their family is now fixed.  They look for incremental changes and face each day knowing that they are working towards something years from now in which they can look back on and smile.


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.


Communication and family: What “should” we be doing?

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

In my last post, I talked about the importance of each generation defining what it needs in order to be an effective group for the family and the business. The operative forum was a family meeting. Family meetings can be tricky. I was facilitating a particularly tense family meeting recently when the patriarch asked me why these meeting were so hard when at the office, they just meet and go forward? He said, “We don’t seem to have as many problems with work relationships as with our family ones.” I asked him how often he talked with his employees. He said, “Every day. We have our meetings, or our visits, solve our problems as move on.”

As family members, we have a certain expectation that since we are family, we should be able to have these meetings, we should be able to talk to each other, we should be able to come to the table and work things out. A wise person once said the family should adopt the policy, “Quit shoulding on me.” The point is that the patriarch failed to accurately compare the amount and type of communication he had with his employees to how much and what type he was having with his family.

We assume as family members that communication should be easy, and when it isn’t, we can’t communicate with “them”. Families need to build capacity in their communication efforts as much as they do with their employees. Many times employers/employees have a filter on their communication before they proceed. How often do we do that with family members? How often do we filter what we say in a way that is constructive? How often do we listen to family members in quite the same way as we listen to employers/employees? How often do we search for a clear understanding of what the other family member said and what they meant?

Case in point, a large family was compiling some ground rules for future meetings. The very first rule the youngest brother said was “Don’t make it personal.” I immediately thought he meant let’s keep business issues business and family issues family. I didn’t think much more until a sister said, “Well, it’s all personal!” I thought, that’s not what he meant, but let it sit. We continued to go around the table, and finally got back to the youngest brother. I asked him to explain what he meant by “Don’t make it personal.” He said as family members, we all know the soft spot that each member has that we can poke at and it hurts. Don’t make your statements so they poke at the underbelly of each other just to hurt. Turns out I was completely wrong about what he meant. We all were but didn’t really understand until we came back around and asked.

Families would be well served to work on their communication with each other. They need to build their capacity! Keep it frequent, keep it constructive, keep on trying to understand, keep it gentle when needed and keep it from poking at the underbelly of the other. And then keep on — it’s never done! Keep building and getting better.


Defining what’s right for your generation

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

“We’re doing it that way because that is what Dad wanted. And for as long as he is alive, that’s how we’re going to do it. It was Dad’s dream, he built it, he gave it to us, and that’s what’s important. We have to honor Dad.”

The statement silenced the rest of the siblings who were trying to have a discussion around the development of a shareholders agreement. The agreement was a “last man standing” contract where upon the death of the shareholder, their shares were retired and the remaining owners had a larger stake in the company. The sibling group of eight were in their 50s and 60s, and contemplating their own future. Some of the siblings worked in the company but most did not. One of the siblings had been diagnosed with a chronic illness that had the potential to shorten her life, and she wanted to understand the consequences of her ownership for her children. She understood the children were to receive the financial gain for the sale of the stock back to the company, but one of her children also worked for the company and hoped to become part owner one day.

While there were many facets to the discussion, I stopped the conversation and asked all of the siblings to step back a bit. Why would their dad want the agreement to read like that? What would be the purpose of formulating such an agreement? The fourth child answered, “Because he wanted the decision making to be consolidated so no one who was running the company would have to ask anyone else for permission to do something.”

I asked the remaining siblings if that was true. They all nodded in agreement. I proceeded to ask why their dad would have felt so strongly about consolidating decision making. Then another sibling told me the story of their dad, his father and his uncles. It was a story of destructive work habits and entitlement that strapped the company and angered the siblings’ father. He eventually bought everyone out and turned the company around. Their father had a very compelling reason to have the shareholders agreement written in the way that it was. However, it was now time for the siblings to come together to decide what was right for them as a group and their families going forward.

Each generation must navigate their own waters. Each generation must decide what is right for them, and what to pass forward. Each generation must face the tension of what is right for their nuclear family, and what is best for the whole and come together to negotiate a decision. And the successful negotiation can only happen through communication.

Often as consultants we are asked to speak or write on best practices. We are asked to give advice on what works best. The problem with those answers is that in order to be a best practice we must answer, “It depends.” The best answer is that each group must come together to review, to communicate, and to decide together a path that moves the family and the business forward in a constructive way. What is best for one family enterprise may not be the best for another.

I was reminded of this the past week when I listened to a webinar on the next generation and how they need to individuate and differentiate from the family. They need to become their own person and understand their own identity, their own strengths and weaknesses. When they can stand on their own, make their own decisions in a healthy way, these children become an adult who can bring a lot of positives to the family and the business, regardless if they work there or not. It is the same with each generation of a family business. They must understand where they came from, appreciate the hard work of the older generation, but decide what their own strengths and weaknesses are, what they need to do for each other as a whole in order to put their own stamp on the family and the business.

The next time you are in a family meeting, work in individual generations to decide:

  • What are our strengths as a group?
  • What is a potential area that could make us unravel?
  • What do we want our generation to be known for?
  • What happens if we do nothing?

Honor your past and hope for the future, but don’t forget to make (as a group) your own impact on the family business.


How is as Important as What in Decision Making

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

Three siblings sat in a room discussing the details of a new shareholders agreement they wanted to create. Through a recent lawsuit with two other siblings, their current shareholder agreement, which had been put together by their father, had been helpful in defining settlement terms, but they knew it wasn’t comprehensive. The three siblings had gotten over the shock and hurt of the lawsuit, the dust had settled, and they were ready to proceed with a new shareholder agreement, but old habits had started to reemerge. They were stuck in a positional standoff. Eventually, after a year of building trust, they got to the point of having an honest and open discussion with each other regarding what they each wanted out of the shareholders agreement. They were (rightly) very proud of how far they had come.

They were also contemplating succession and their children were now employed in the business. One of the senior generation siblings suggested that since the three of them had come so far, it might be important for the next generation to sit in on the facilitated discussions regarding the shareholders agreement. They wanted the children to see that they could have tough discussions without being positional, judgmental, and/or defensive.

The meeting didn’t get very far through the parts of the agreement. There were a lot of side questions, a lot of meandering, but always came back on topic. Eventually, the three siblings went off on their own to discuss a few of the points on the shareholder’s agreement. After the siblings left, the next gen were asked what they thought of the meeting. A couple of them were confused about the lack of progress on the different points. Why was there so much discussion and meandering? Another was grateful to start hearing some of the terms that were used. He didn’t understand all of the different aspects of the agreement, so he was intrigued. And finally, the last one said he was happy to understand why they were making decisions about certain things instead of being handed a document and told “that’s how it is.”

The three siblings came back in the room and one of the next gen asked if they got anything done. One sibling answered that they got a lot done – they uncovered more questions. Two of the next gen were confused. They again said it seemed like the older generation siblings weren’t accomplishing anything. But the eldest sibling was excited. He told the next gen they accomplished so much more than just the points of the agreement. They gained trust and understanding and were enjoying the new found teamwork around the important document. They had come so far in their communication and were now enjoying solving tough problems together.

It was such an important illustration of how much the process matters when making decisions among family members. The next generation began to understand how to work together as future shareholders. It is incredibly important to teach the next generation many things, but most importantly, how to be a good partner. Next time you’re having an important discussion among the shareholders, keep these following points in mind:

  • Understand the process of making decisions is as important, and sometimes more, than the end product.
  • Exemplify what good communication and decision making can be for the next generation – they’re watching you.
  • Don’t hide difficult situations and conversations from the next generation.
  • Understand that the next generation wants to know WHY you made the decision you did.
  • Introduce terms that may be foreign, confusing, or misunderstood.
  • Don’t be afraid to veer off-topic for the sake of understanding. Just remember to come back to topic again.

Good decision making is so much more than good decisions.


We Have Two Ears and One Mouth for a Reason

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

A couple were driving home and the wife mentioned that she talked to her brother that day.  She said she was sad because her brother had confided that he was having a tough time at work and home. She was worried about him. The husband quickly started to solve the problem by suggesting how her brother should change and take charge of his life.  After a while (with no response from the wife) he stopped talking.  The husband knew the wife was now upset with him so he sheepishly asked what was wrong.

The same man was also unsure why he was having difficulty with his relationship with his son at work.  His son was bright and the father was proud to have him consider taking a leadership position one day.  But the son could be cranky and shut down around the father.  The father knew the son needed more training and experience. When he first started working there, he would ask his father questions but now rarely talked with him unless the father requested a meeting. In those meetings the discussions always seemed to be tense and one-sided.

Both of those situations could be helped by one thing:  the ability to listen better.  Listening is such an important skill to hone, but too few actually actively practice. It seems unnatural in this day and age of emails, texts, and quick phone calls.  Our minds are busy solving problems, thinking about the demands that life puts on us, and especially in a family business, receiving information from others through the lens that we have built up over the years.  We get stuck in positions of defending, explaining, knowing what they’re going to say (but do we?), and solving their problems that we forget to listen.

Listening with patience and an open mind can create the type of thinking that is enormously creative, build trust among those who do not have it and enhance that of those who do, build self-confidence among those with none, and instill wonderment for those who do it. It is so hard to actively listen with patience and an open mind.  There are so many demands on time that we get in the habit of responding quickly.   If we take too much time to think we believe people will get impatient.  We jump in and finish thoughts and take the conversation the way we view it. We solve their problems.  After all, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do for the people we love?

For just today, try this:

  • Pick one person and give yourself time to listen them.
  • Actively try to hear every word that person says to you.
  • Do not interrupt or answer until they are finished.
  • Look at them during the entire time they are talking.
  • Force your mind to not jump to what you think they’re going to say.
  • Do not begin to formulate your response until they have stopped talking.
  • Do not fix their problem, but ask a question instead.

The steps are basic, but hard to do with every conversation.  Just for one day, with one person, practice the most crucial component to communication.  We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.


You can reconnect after a cut-off

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

In my last blog, I wrote about the most important component of happiness and satisfaction was the connections a person has with others.   I have heard numerous stories of family members, who for one reason or another, have become estranged.  When working with family enterprises who have conflict, we often hear of a cut-off from one relative or another.  It might be children not speaking to a parent, siblings who haven’t had contact in years, cousins who have limited knowledge and communication with each other because of the difficulties of their parents or grandparents generation.  Whatever the case, the physical and emotional cut-off in the family invariably affects the business.

One story quite close to me involves two sisters who were very close.  Sometime in their late 50s/40s (respectively) they had a falling out.  Eventually, they stopped getting together with their families, and the space and silence developed into very strong negative feelings that echoed through the rest of the family system.

As time passed and they reached into their late 80s/70s, the elder sister started to develop dementia.  The younger sister heard bits and pieces about the health of the elder and decided enough time had passed and it was time to visit. Their time together was short, but they chatted and smiled at each other’s stories.  When the younger sister asked if it was okay if she could come back again to visit, a tear slid out of the elder’s eye, and she nodded yes and grabbed the younger’s hand.

My aunt died this past week, and my mother is very sad, yet so grateful that the connection was reestablished. There was a deep love there that had been hidden and uncovered.  Connections with family matters.

Cut-offs happen in families: physically and emotionally.  Many times as individuals we are completely justified in why we no longer speak.  An event, or a series of events happen that leave us deeply hurt and affect our lives.  We stop the connection with the other to protect ourselves.  Often, though, when we look back at our family tree, we see a pattern of cut-offs that really had nothing and yet everything to do with our own cut-offs.  We tend to inherit cut-offs as a way to cope with the difficulties of relationships.

Unfortunately, those cut-offs affect our satisfaction in life.  We may accept them as necessary, but in reality, they leave a hole. Time has a way of softening the edges and healing the wounds that led to cut-offs.  Sometimes, family members can’t even recall what led to the cut-off, it always was like this.

Look back at the relationships within your family and examine any cut-offs. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I cut-off with anyone in my family?
  • Why am I cut-off from them?
  • Is the event that happened still fresh in my mind or has time helped to heal the wound?
  • Have my parents or grandparents ever experienced cut-off?  Did I inherit cut-offs or am I going to pass them down?

Take the time today to examine a connection with a family member that may have suffered a break-down. If you can re-establish the connection in a healthy way, you will have added to the happiness in your life and to those in the next generation.




Finding satisfaction in life . . . lessons for a family business?

Deb Houden
Deb Houden

Recently, I read a short article that highlighted the findings of The Harvard Study of Adult Development (formerly known as the Harvard Longitudinal Study, and the Harvard Grant Study, but most widely known as the Grant Study).  This research followed a group of men for over 75 years to more fully understand what led to (potentially) healthy lives.  Oodles of research has been done on child development, but not so much on adult development (beyond leadership training). The study’s aim was to understand in a deeper way what led to happiness, satisfaction, and contentment. 

George Vaillant, one of the directors of the study, argued the most important discovery was that warm intimate relationships were the strongest predictor of satisfaction in life. A person could have a successful career, make a lot of money, have good physical health, but without the strong connection with other individuals, there was not happiness. The one thing that made the difference was connection.

  • Have family meetings that bring together siblings and cousins and celebrate what is unique about each member
  • Mix and match larger groups to foster connections with other branches so the next generation has an opportunity to develop their own relationships
  • Include in-laws
  • Make time to develop the relationships that make up a family
  • Schedule fun time at family meetings that foster interconnectedness

Satisfaction with one’s career also involved a connection: feeling a connection with one’s job/business.  This connection also trumped money, status, and power.  The most successful family businesses are built on the connection of the family to the enterprise. Wise family members try to cultivate that deep connection in the next generation.

  • Develop a book/story that celebrates the history of the business
  • Teach the younger generation about the business, including age appropriate activities that focus on fostering a deep understanding of the products and markets of the company
  • Introduce key non-family members of the business to members of the family who do not work there
  • Have family-wide communication that celebrates milestones of the company

Another point of the study revolved around the ability to face and overcome challenges by making lemonade out of lemons, and overcoming them in a way that moved from thinking about oneself to thinking of others.

  • In family meetings, have older generation members talk about one of the most challenging issues THEY faced and overcame successfully.  This gives younger generation members permission to make mistakes, too.
  • Don’t shelter children from experiencing difficulties in life.  Instead, have them come up with potential solutions to challenges, discuss pros and cons with you and let them make their own decisions.
  • In family meetings, celebrate challenges that family members may have faced since their last meeting and how they overcame it, no matter how small.
  • Acknowledge and candidly discuss how overcoming challenges, in their own way, are one of the keys to happiness.

Relationships matter.  They matter to your bottom line of your business, and they matter to the bottom line of your family, and they matter to the bottom line of your life’s happiness.  A family business is at its best when the business and the family are healthy and are connected to each other.  Work on each.  Life’s happiness is all about connections.