A Convoluted but Useful Conclusion

Last week we looked at the various types of skill sets that people who work with families might need in order to provide them with the whole breadth of service they require.

See Liberal Arts Vs. STEM Skills to Serve Families

As I openly shared then, that idea and concept came to me from a colleague during a Zoom call with peers, which is nothing new.

We ended that post with another peer-inspired idea, that of thinking of this as a “left brain / right brain” dichotomy.

That one came from a different call, one that I’m part of locally in Montreal, that meets in French.

We’ll get to yet another bilingualism-inspired post soon enough, don’t worry.

Although this week’s idea is a bit convoluted, that has nothing to do with language, and more to do with the way my brain is wired.

You Can’t Have Too Much Education

During that call with my francophone colleagues, one of our leaders made the point that education is always her first “go to” when beginning to work with any family.

Heads were nodding across the screen at this, as it’s difficult to argue against.

But let’s look at that a bit longer here, to consider the context she was speaking about.

When a practitioner enters a family system as an outsider, we need to quickly try to establish some common ground on which we can then firmly stand.

We want to show that we are knowledgeable and trustworthy of course, but also able to communicate with all members of the family.

Most families suffer from a serious case of “information asymmetry”, as I like to call it.

That’s just a fancy phrase to say that some family members typically know everything about what the family owns and manages, while others are very much in the dark.

Bringing everyone up to the same level on some subject(s) with some education is an important first step for all of these reasons.

Assessing a Family’s Learning Orientation

Some part of the general agreement of our group around education naturally stems from the fact that when we get to work with a family that has an appetite for learning and education, such mandates are typically much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Working with people who are “learners”, as opposed to “learned”, is very different, as anyone who has a “know-it-all” in their midst will readily appreciate.

When we start with any education content, we can begin to assess how hungry the family members are to learn together

Why Were We Called In?

Later on during this same call, a colleague shared his view that learning usually only happens in response to some level of discomfort.

Hmmmm; I needed to think about that one a bit.

Is discomfort a necessary pre-condition to my being able to learn? I suppose that it will increase my motivation, assuming that I am trying to learn how to ease my discomfort in some way.

Certainly the fact that a family has invited us in as an outsider to be a resource for them, there was some discomfort somewhere in the system that prompted that reach-out.

So somebody was suffering from some discomfort somewhere.

Now to the Prescription Angle

Somewhere along the way during the 2-hours we spent together, the idea formed in my head that education is always useful, and if it is to try to settle some discomfort, we could think of it as a prescription.

If education is a go-to solution to instigate some learning, and learning is a solution for discomfort, then this makes sense.

Like I said, it feels a bit convoluted and yet it might be useful, if it can remind us of these two ideas in our work.

Clarity Is More Comfortable Than Confusion

Education is almost always used with families in order to increase clarity, and to find places where every family member better understands what the family owns and how they are planning to transition that to the next generation of the family.

Educating for more clarity is always useful, because increasing clarity enables better understanding.

Ideally we want to get to the stage where everyone agrees with whatever plans are put into place, and if the family members aren’t able to comprehend the plans, it is difficult for them to agree to them in an informed way.

We’ll pick up this idea again next week, please come back!