Boost Effective Communication Among Family

Managing Talent

Lots of talking without clarity is a struggle in any family business

Published on: April 18, 2013

We know the gratifying joy and pride working on the farm with family. We can also share vibrant stories of struggles and pain. When asked how to make those stressful times less common, "better communication" is the best advice you will ever hear from a consultant.

Okay, you say. It's a great concept on paper, but have they ever worked in our world with high stress, long hours and extreme curveballs like the weather and fluctuating markets?

It's intense, to say the least. But yes, I get it, because I do help manage a working family farm. Despite those stress-filled times, you can have more successful meetings, more conversations that lead to well laid-out actions and clearer expectations with less wheel-spinning. How?

Lots of talking without clarity is a struggle in any family business.
Lots of talking without clarity is a struggle in any family business.

Be transparent. You may think you are communicating ideas and no one is listening. I challenge you to re-examine your communications efforts. Could your ideas be lacking clarity and conviction when expressing them to others?

Often, when speaking with family individuals, people utilize passive techniques to get their point across. They're passionate about their view, but passive in delivery. They rely on brief one-liners in the field, jokes, indirect communication and a list of other non-impactful habits.

That's not going to work, even when you're talking to family members who work with you. It takes constant effort to speak more distinctly and candidly to your family. Express thoughts fully, be serious, add details and ensure timing is appropriate for delivery.

Take your emotions out of the picture and use logic. This one takes extra effort and a forced mindset. Individuals are often tied to their ideas; in a family biz, there is typically more emotional attachment. You have to speak as if you were presenting to a co-working in a corporate environment.

To develop all-star communicators on the team, utilize pre-established management meetings as the platform for presenting ideas, concerns and upcoming projects. This should be the table where healthy debate takes place, ideal solutions are agreed upon and the group speaks openly.

By the time those meetings conclude, everyone should be on the exact same page with who is doing what and how tasks will be accomplished.

We are human and habits are hard to break. At the end of a conversation reflect on how you spoke. Were you able to express fully what was on your mind? Did you deliver it in a serious, logical manner? Or were you passive?

Start taking small steps to improve your communication technique, and great things will happen.