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Positive Thinking in a Family Business

In times of crisis, emotional dynamics play a major role in our decision-making process, particularly in the way we interact with family members. Although it can be a challenge, maintaining a positive mindset during difficult and stressful times ends up being extremely beneficial for the overall well-being of the family business. Below are some situations commonly experienced by family businesses that highlight the benefits of positive thinking.

Truth and the NxG
During family conflicts, the complete truth is sometimes concealed from younger family members who are seen as too immature or ill equipped to deal with difficult issues. While the intent here is to protect them from emotional distress, the effort often backfires. Younger family members ultimately feel patronized and deceived because they believe older family members view them as incapable of handling the truth. They see themselves as excluded from important family matters. Rather than protecting younger family members from family conflict, realistically communicate with them about what’s happening. Positive thinkers use this opportunity to model how to cope and deal with situations in a healthy way. Treating the younger generation as present and meaningful family members builds trust and mutual respect between generations.

Embracing Change
A willingness to accept change is a trademark of positive thinking. When a new generation enters the family business, they often bring with them fresh ideas and innovation. They may, for example, propose changes that, at first glance, seem drastic or out-of-the-box. In situations like these, change can be met with skepticism, resistance and unease. Positive thinking allows for open discussion and listening. Rather than dismissing ideas, hear them out. Embracing change can lead to further innovation, increased profits, efficiency, family harmony, and so on. Keep an open mind; view change as a positive force, one that can lead to more productive ways of living and working together.

“Me” vs. “We”
People who practice positive thinking are often supportive by nature. Maintaining steady communication, sharing common values and goals, and respecting family members: these are all examples of showing support within a family business. Time itself is a particularly important way of showing support for family members. When do you dedicate time to helping family members? When do you provide guidance or mentorship? When do you provide counsel about work or family issues? Spending time with family builds mutual respect, strengthens bonds, and develops a culture of “we” (rather than a culture of “me”). A “we” mentality promotes collaboration, which in turn builds family unity and creates a healthy emotional dynamic within the family business.

How do you interact with your family members?
What steps can you take to become a more positive thinker?

  • By Eric on 9.11.2014 at 12:32 pm

    I’ve never been part of a family business, but know what it’s like to have much of my family in ONE business. The majority of my family, based in St. Louis, work at Boeing. I’m the wacky one for NOT following that career path, and going into marketing. Interestingly enough though, I’ve been looking into their in-house marketing department for future ventures, who will hopefully further my desire to travel abroad to Asia, again. With increasing business ventures in China, who knows? Maybe I’ll end up there after all.

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