All families have rules for fighting, but very few families make them explicit. Even worse many families have highly unproductive rules for fighting that leave heavy blast zones and bullet ridden bodies littered on the ground. For business owning families serious about working together effectively, the unwritten and unspoken need to be made explicit and the family needs to craft and agree on methods of conflict resolution that will allow continuous learning and successful resolution of the issues causing tension.
Some common approaches include:
- We speak for ourselves and do not blame others for our behavior or emotional reactions.
- We own our individual emotional reactions and practice managing our hot buttons and triggers.
- We seek to understand rather than rush to judgment.
- We put one issue on the table at a time and make a list of new or unrelated issues that emerge during the discussion, coming back to them when there is time.
- We state our goals in working with each other before we jump into conflict mode.
- We behave as though there are cameras in the room and the videotape will be shown to future generations to judge how effective we were in caring for each other and resolving issues.
Ownership groups that agree on how they will address conflict and then put it into practice will benefit from strong alignment on how they handle sensitive issues.
How effective is your family’s plan for dealing with conflict?