Family business conflict creates tension and stress not only in the workplace, but at home and during the holiday gatherings. I know firsthand after working 16 years in my family business.
For most people conflict brings up an automatic reaction of defensiveness and justifying their position. Taking a defensive posture is counterproductive to solving conflict. When we become defensive our brain gets into a fight or flight mode and loses access to the creative region of the brain. Conflict is inevitable in the family business.
Curiosity is the key. We work with family business clients and train them to take on a curiosity mindset.
Even when you use the word curiosity it creates a different energy in your mind and body. When someone is truly being curious they can have a much more open-minded approach to listening and understanding what the other person wants.
Learning to bring a curious mindset takes practice. Think of it like learning to hit a new note while singing or learning how to walk on a balance beam. It takes time and commitment to developing the new skill.
For most people the obstacles to taking on a curious mindset are:
- getting control of their own emotional reactions
- letting go of past hurts and events
- seeing a possibility for new behaviors and relationships
- having acceptance and compassion for the other persons point of view
I’ve personally worked with families over long periods of time. It’s really fascinating to watch as family members struggle to find a balance with curiosity but eventually begin to master the skill.
Being curious won’t entirely resolve the issues but being curious will provide the right tone and open-mindedness to explore new ways of working together in the family business.
This week start building the muscle of having a curious mindset! Let me know if we can help accelerate your skill building.