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The Secret To Resolving Conflict In The Family Business

By Kyle Danner

When we disagree with someone, we tend to dig in our heels.

We’re right and they’re wrong. If only they saw our side, they would completely understand. It would seem so logical and so rational. But they don’t.

Instead, we keep throwing facts and figures at the other side assuming something will click. They’ll see how right, smart, and valid our argument is.

But they don’t.

So we throw more facts and figures assuming they haven’t heard the right argument yet.

But to no avail.

Then it turns ugly. It gets personal, and we question the other person’s competence. We question their intelligence.
We question their morals. Since they’re "too stupid" to listen to our brilliantly crafted argument, we write them off.

Then we’re left with nothing.

Both parties are exhausted because they’ve been beaten to a pulp. Demeaned. Degraded. And nothing gets accomplished.

So what can you do about it? The next time you find yourself in an intractable debate in the family business, when you’re sure the other side can’t see how right and brilliant you are, switch sides.

Switching Sides: The Hardest but Most Effective Way to Approach Conflict

You've probably heard of "putting yourself in someone else's shoes." It's a powerful sentiment, and it can help you build empathy in even the tensest of situations. Switching sides takes this a step further.

Don't just imagine how someone else feels. Become your own devil's advocate.

Here's what that looks like:

  • Make a good faith effort to argue against yourself.
  • Make a good faith effort to challenge your own thinking.
  • Come up with your own reasons as to why it can’t be done.
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Challenge your own request.

Just taking that first step shows you’re willing to listen and try. It’s a tiny effort for building trust between both parties. It’s a sign that you’re willing to listen and work to find a solution. And, it can change the way you see yourself in any given situation.

Switching sides doesn’t feed that short term need to show that you’re right, but it does feed the long term need to build a relationship.

What If the Other Side Doesn't Reciprocate?

If the other side refuses to switch sides with you or fails to understand your perspective, do it anyway.

While your goal may be to get your way, we rarely get everything we want. That’s just life.

Take each conflict you face as what it really is: an opportunity to learn. Perhaps in the process you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the problem and even come up with mutually acceptable solutions.

If switching sides isn't enough to resolve the issues inside your family business, you may need to dig a little deeper into the root of the problem. My family business book, Is There An Elephant In Your Family Business?, is a great way to do just that. This book will help the family:

  • Identify the root cause of conflict within the business
  • Discuss the conflict in an open, positive manner
  • Resolve conflict before it tears the business & family apart
  • Prepare the family & the business for what's next

Click the button below to get your free copy and help make your goals for the business and the family a reality.


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