To celebrate sibling week I thought it would be a good time to learn a few important skills to create stronger sibling relationships.
Sibling relationships seem to be more complicated than they should be. It’s your sister, your brother – right? Should be simple, yet most sibling relationships I see have all sorts of complications like:
- Unresolved baggage from childhood
- Different personalities/styles
- Lifelong competition in everything
- Spouse/significant other issues
I’ve watched sibling disagreements cause major issues for both the family and the business staff. When siblings aren’t getting along, the tension can be palpable in the room. It can lead to significant dysfunction in the business or be a roadblock to succession or sustainability.
Whether your sibling relationship is rock solid, a little weak or a total train wreck, here are a few simple practices to help create a healthier, more sustainable relationship.
Accept the fact that you and your siblings have differences. Stop fighting it. Start realizing your differences are a part of life. Practice seeing the others as legitimate human beings. Everyone has flaws, including you — so stop wasting all of your energy on judgment, anger or resentment. Accept the situation.
Practice Communicating Your Wants and Needs
In order to have happiness or a healthy relationship, you need to be able to tell people “what works” and “what doesn’t work” for you. Be willing to set and hold your own personal boundaries. Do it with calm, clarity and compassion. Be real, reasonable and realistic. Let the other person know what you’d like from them.
Practice Giving Feedback – Both Positive and “Responsible Complaints”
After you let someone know what you want from them, make the effort to acknowledge the right behaviors to reinforce how important it is to you. Conversely, when they miss the mark, learn how to give them feedback in a way that is mature and not attacking. Say something like, “when you do that, here is the impact it has on me.”
While I know firsthand how difficult sibling relationships can be, I also believe most people would really rather get along than be at odds with each other. Most of the time they just don’t have the skills and discipline to build new patterns.
Pick a couple of these new practices and build a stronger, more effective relationship with your sibling. Who knows, by this time next year “sibling week” might be a source of pride and celebration. You can do this!
Pete Walsh is a demanding, courageous and playful Master Coach in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the founder of Peak Workout Business Coaching and the Family Business Performance Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.