Communication is essential and all around us. It is at work, at home, with friends and strangers, it is the foundation for success in all relationships and nearly every aspect of life. Yet, despite our constant communication, we often struggle to do it effectively, especially with those closest to us. Why is it so hard?

Lack of communication

Consider this: When I asked some of my family business clients family members who were not involved in their family business why they were not involved, their responses varied:

  • “I was never asked.”
  • “I didn’t know it was an option.”
  • “It was a male/female dominated business; only the boys/girls worked in the company.”
  • “I’m not interested in sales, trades, trucking, etc.”
  • “I want to have my own business.”
  • “I couldn’t work with my family.”

I have heard it all. It really comes down to the lack of communication in any form. Many of the answers caught other family members off guard. When this information surfaces it can trigger a whirlwind of emotions, everything from anger to sadness to regret.
In my view, the primary reason family members don’t participate in the business is lack of communication within the family. Avoiding difficult or sensitive conversations is a common barrier to growth. If you aim to pass on your success and maintain a family business legacy, embrace communication—don’t fear it.

How to embrace communication in your Family Business

Open and honest communication is the cornerstone of thriving family businesses. It’s about sharing both positive and negative information openly, building trust, and involving stakeholders in decision-making.

  1. Hold family meetings: Have regular family meetings with an agenda to discuss ideas, updates, values, goals, vision whatever it is that should be shared. Consider it a same page meeting. Avoid the “ you didn’t tell me that” comment.
  2. Understand each other: People have different styles of communication, ways they do things and underlying motivations for why they do what they do, Look into doing a family assessments to better understand each other. It is also a fun exercise.
  3. Communication Style: Communication is 55% body language, 38% tone and 7% words. Be mindful of all three. An eye roll can set the tone without saying anything.
  4. Listen: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” So said Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher who lived nearly 2,000 years ago, and his ears would be ringing due to the lack of real communication that exists today.
  5. Be open and honest: Being open and honest will reduce conflict, avoid miscommunication, build trust and credibility. All this leads to better decision making and successful transitions.

Remember, communication really does matter, it strengthens your family bonds, hand helps you truly connect. Remember we are all different and we need to be appreciated for who we are.