Nothing kills communication and collaboration quicker than a family member who refuses to shut up and won’t listen to others! We’ve all experienced coworkers or family members who can’t seem to give other people sufficient airtime to express their opinions.
There are a variety of reasons why some people won’t shut up and let other people speak— I’ll go into all of those in another blog, but for right now, we need to focus on changing this behavior.
In our “Vital 7 Communication Skills” exercise we simply call it “talk to listen ratio“. We teach participants to keep an eye out for their talk to listen ratio in every conversation. It’s really that simple.
Working with family businesses for the past 15 years, it’s so amazing and predictable to see the same cast of characters in the families we meet. The extroverts (big talkers) tend to dominate every conversation which will frustrate and eventually wear out the introverts.
If the family allows that situation to continue, it can virtually kill any hopes of collaboration and teamwork. Somebody in the family (or even an outside facilitator) needs to firmly remind the big talkers to make room for the introverts or less assertive team members.
The big talkers need to be reassured that everyone values their opinions (we get enough of them J) but at the same time made to realize that they need to shut up and let other people’s ideas get in the room.
We need to get the big talkers to shut up first — next week we’ll work on getting them to not only shut up but to actually listen to the other people in the room! At first when we get the big talkers to shut up they spend most of their quiet time thinking up what they’re going to say next!
Sincere and effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy family business. The family needs to learn how to practice monitoring the talk to listen ratio if they are going to create genuine teamwork and sustainable family business success!