The Hardest Thing About Being In A Family Business
May 11, 2020
It is just starting to get warm outside. The sun is shining, and there is a breeze. The warmth feels really good. Suddenly, the wind picks up, black clouds roll in, there is lightning, and it is pouring rain. The next morning, the sun is shining, and I could not feel more grateful to be where I am. This is what it sometimes feels like to work in my family business.
I have had some of the best and worst days of my life while working in our family business. I have learned so much. One thing I know for sure is family means love and when you love someone and you work with them, it becomes easy for everyone involved to naturally be emotional and sensitive.
There are high expectations; even light conversations become really hard. No one wants to say anything that will upset another person. Since it is family, ego is often a player, and whether intended or not, simple requests are perceived as judgemental criticism. Suddenly, the expected conversation has taken a turn for the worst. The next time a conversation should happen, fear gets in the way. No one wants a hard conversation.
It is important to remind oneself you love each other, and ultimately, want the same things in life. I do not know anyone who makes mistakes on purpose. We are all simply human beings. This understanding takes the pressure off trying to make everything perfect. The key to working through our feelings, is simply knowing that it will be hard sometimes.
That is all. It will be hard sometimes.
This reminder helps me. The next time a hard conversation needs to happen, and it will, fear will not get in the way. It is critical to make sure your communication does not stop. If that happens, anger and resentment will take over.
Understanding where everyone “fits” in the business and how each person prefers to communicate is important. For example, I am a visionary; a big picture thinker. I have new ideas and different ways to do things all the time. I tend to move pretty quickly when these thoughts and ideas come up. My brother, on the other hand, likes details and a clear map of how things will play out. He is not fond of unnecessary change.
You can see how we might not work well together, right? Luckily, the exact opposite is true. He understands that the best way to talk to me about something new is to make sure he himself is ready to move on it. I understand the best way to talk to him is to go in easy and explain the steps first. This is what works for us. Our communication skills are a direct result of understanding that ego will not serve us. Like I said, it can sometimes be really difficult, but we remember, or remind each other, that our business’s success stems from having fun and trusting each other.