Published by

When tug-of-wars threaten 



family business . . .


call TIME OUT!

Not to act is to act… Not to stop the roller coaster long enough to raise the issues (and question yourself), puts you out of control!


Conflict is inevitable in any business. But eliminating conflict can destroy a business overnight because it pulls away the blanket of trust and blocks the path to innovation all in one fell swoop.

The goal needs to be to manage conflict productively, not chase it away. Properly managed conflict can breed creative thinking, mutual respect, and boost business growth.

If you want to get technical, some organizational development experts and behavioral scientists would insist that the inability to manage agreement is a far more critical issue to address than the inability to manage conflict.

Experience with hundreds of family businesses though seems to dictate that where conflict is present, manage that first. It’s hard to agree to much of anything once fists are flying.


Start by questioning yourself >>> What do I need to do when a conflict issue is critically important to me but not to others? >>>Am I inflating or accelerating an issue and making it worse than it really is? >>> How important is it for me (and for me to help others) to speak up, and not “hint”? >>> For issues that are critical to others but not me, can I mediate better with active listening and questioning?


Here are some quick-fix rules of thumb that can lead you out of the dark tangles and into the sunlight:

1) Be willing to listen more. Ask the presenter(s) to slow down so you can write down a bullet list of items he/she/they want to deal with (When you do this, you slow down the attack potential and reduce the odds of getting overwhelmed with a bombardment of unrelated issues. When it’s agreed that the list is complete, ask for help prioritizing it, then focus on #1 only until it’s resolved, before moving to #2, etc. Divide and conquer the issues.

2) Stay 100% focused on the issues and on behaviors, not on the individuals themselves or their personality defects or character traits.

3) Resist being defensive or attacking back. Rebuttals only stimulate more rebuttals. Even if you’re right and win the battle, you can lose the war.

4) Be pleasantly direct about expressing what you want and feel. Use assertive language that respects others and their rights, that is objective and clear. More use of words like “I” instead of “you.” If things get heated, call TIME OUT! and follow with statements like “I came here to discuss, not argue” and “I want to know your feelings about this” and “I want to hear your position on this.”

5) Practice substituting the word “and” for the word “but” when trying to work through differences [“I agree with your thinking that we need to increase sales, but I think how that happens should be the responsibility of the sales department” is NOT as effective as “I agree with your thinking that we need to increase sales, and I think how that happens should be the responsibility of the sales department.”] Words like “but” (and “though” and “however” which are simply polite “buts”) serve to discredit…whereas “and” suggests a process of building on a mutually agreeable idea.

To deal effectively with another person’s anger, you must –above all– not get hooked by it.

Second, accept it as belonging to the other person.

Third, affirm the other person’s angry feelings as real, and that you hear and understand them.

Fourth, acknowledge that you may or do feel defensive, and state clearly how you feel about having any anger directed at you.

Fifth, ASK for clarification, for examples, for diagrams; diagnose the cause — take it apart piece at a time.

Sixth, renegotiate the relationship.


And remember what grandma used to say: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

(or call or email Hal -see below- for some free pointers)

Resolving conflicts? It’s always worth doing. It’s your business.



302.933.0911 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

One comment so far


  1. […] off tasks tends to be for entrepreneurs and in many family settings . . . and especially in family businesses. Q: When does a delegator step in and take charge, take back, or take over? A: When ultimate […]

Please Feel Free to Leave a Comment Below


Tag Cloud