Dynamics, Emotions in Family Business

When issues within the Family spill over into the Business domain, it creates difficulties. Since conflicts are very common in business families, members have to learn to resolve them before they get out of control.

When Family Members feel that their anger or hurt is justified, they feel confronted when faced with the situation of resolving the conflicts. It must be noted that by denying or avoiding conflict or carrying their resentment to the meetings

Family Members will only aggravate the situation.

Family Business is unique. However, the transition from a Family Member to a Business associate is fraught with pitfalls due to the frequent and severe conflicts they face.

The unique features of a Family System have to be understood in order to navigate the pitfalls successfully.

The following features define a Family System:

Boundaries: Has clearly defined boundaries and rules of membership and is often isolated from the outside world.

Informal rules: Mostly operates on an informal set of rules and procedures and interaction with fellow members. The system resists change as it is rooted in Family emotions.

Expectations: Many Family Members grow up with unrealistic expectations of what they should receive from their parents. These expectations become magnified in a Family Business where power, position and money play a pivotal role.

Hierarchy: The System has hierarchy and often gets transferred to Business.

Family Patterns: The family's business is unlike the Family system. If the Family pattern is not supportive of sound Business practices, it is dangerous to the Family Business. Problems develop when such pattern is transferred from the Family to the Business. At times of crisis, Family Members may behave in a shockingly similar manner to the way they behaved when they were young and often indulge in blame games rather than find a remedial solution.

Communication: When there is tension between two parties, Family Members often resort to what is called "Triangulation" Communication where one of them seeks out a third party to discuss the problem.

The third party in turn goes to the other party either to berate or ease the tension. This violates the boundary between Family and Business and shifts the Business disagreement to the Family.

Fairness: Many Family disagreements revolve around the issue of fairness. If the Family does not know how to bring these differences to surface and resolve them, conflicts can build and escalate over time.

As it builds, Family Members get more and more estranged and even minor issues cause for big showdowns.

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