Conflict can and should be a healthy ingredient of family business success. One of my clients said years ago that the ongoing conflict amongst its leaders was, “how we squeeze the most juice out of the orange.”
Most families don’t handle conflict well. They either avoid the conflict and and hope it will go away, or they engage in it with bad, ineffective behavior that has a negative impact on the family and the business. Successful families find a balance in between those two extremes.
5 Reasons Why Families Need to Learn to Embrace Family Conflict
- Challenging each other can make the team stronger and more resilient
- Conflict can help the brain focus
- Honest self-expression (done well) can be healthy for an individual
- Conflict left unaddressed can explode later and cause irreparable harm
- Modeling effective conflict skills builds the capacity and pattern for the next-generation
Challenging Each Other Can Make the Team Stronger and More Resilient
Let’s face it, business is a competitive sport and your competitors are going to be challenging you everyday in the marketplace. Learning to deal with conflict amongst your own team will help your whole team become stronger and more resilient in a variety of ways, all of which will help your overall competitive strength and mindset in the marketplace.
Conflict Can Help the Brain Focus
One of my clients was the captain of the Harvard debate team. You better bring your “A” game when meeting with him if you’re going to try to win an argument or influence a decision. Conflict challenges you to put together your most articulate and compelling case for your position. It’s good for you.
Honest Self-Expression (done well) Can be Healthy for an Individual
It really does feel good when you can learn to express your opposing opinion to someone. You need to do that in a way that takes responsibility for “how it will land” with your teammate. It’s okay to express an opposing viewpoint, and better physically and emotionally for you to learn how to do so.
Conflict Left Unaddressed Can Explode Later and Cause Irreparable Harm
Too often clients “stuff and store” their conflict only to have it blow up at a later time unexpectedly. Rather than waiting for the time bomb to go off, everyone needs to take responsibility for their own feelings and learn to express them at the right time and the right place sooner rather than later.
Modeling Effective Conflict Skills Builds the Capacity and Pattern for the Next Generation
A family is like a little ecosystem that generates and maintains certain habitual behavior patterns. As the family learns to effectively address and work through conflict, those patterns of acting and thinking get telegraphed onto the next generation. Think of getting good at dealing with conflict as a significant and important investment in the family’s long-term future.
Your team’s success will be directly related to its ability to face and deal with conflict internally and externally. Toughen up and lighten up – lean into the conflict!
To see more about dealing with family conflict check out my latest Facebook Live video. Watch here.