There’s a Huge Step Along the Way

Last week’s post ended with me teasing this week’s topic, so if you’ve been waiting, thanks for your patience. (Insert Wink Emoji here!)

See Education as a Prescription for Discomfort

We were looking at how important it is to educate everyone in a family to a certain level of common understanding, so that they could then come to important agreements on a fully informed basis.

All that is of course still true; AND it’s almost always easier said than done.

When family members need to come to agreement on important matters, there’s often a history of emotions that gets stirred up that makes it a bigger challenge than it would be in a similar situation involving unrelated parties.

Outside professionals who only occasionally deal with families are often surprised by this, and can become disappointed and disillusioned when they learn that seemingly simple decisions on the surface turn out to be anything but.

Acceptance: Coming to Terms with a Reality

So while increasing clarity to promote better understanding is a necessary precondition to coming to agreement, it’s usually insufficient.

More often than not, at least one family member will need to come to terms with some reality for the first time, and learn to accept it.

For example, agreeing that one of my siblings will now be in charge of something, may require me to accept the fact that I have not been chosen for this role.

This may be very difficult for me to accept, and can take time to sink in, for me to consent to.

And the more anyone tries to rush me to agree to it, the more I may actually dig in my heels to try to defend my position.

Revisiting Consent and Consensus

This brings up another key element that families must deal with when trying to establish important parts of their governance.

Governance is a word that makes a lot of sense in this context, even though most people (myself included) don’t love the word and the connotations it sometimes has.

For me it’s mostly about communication and decision-making, and that’s exactly what we’re talking about here, i.e. the challenges families face in making decisions and coming to agreement.

My suggestion for families usually involves concentrating on making most of their decisions by consensus.

I wrote a couple of posts about this in 2016, after having an A-Ha moment when I finally realized that the word consent is at the root of consensus.

See Putting the Consent into Consensus Part I of II and Part II of II

You Don’t Need to Love Every Part of It

Most of the decisions that families need to make are something far from being crucial to survival.

One of the reasons I encourage families to begin working on governance early on is that they can practice working together and coming to agreement on matters of lesser importance.

That gives them opportunities to practice how they need to be when they come together, and get used to giving their consent to decisions that they may not love entirely, but can certainly still live with.

What’s Good for ME, What’s Good for WE

It’s important to have all family members involved in making decisions that will affect their future, and too many families avoid that because they worry about any disagreements that may arise in the process.

Groups of people can learn to make collegial decisions for their own good, but this requires leaving your selfishness at the door.

As workplaces and organisations progress in society, it feels like more of this is happening, and that’s a good thing.

For families, there’s another layer of possible complications present, thanks to the decades of history they have together, where not all of it has typically been perfectly rosy for all family members.

Playing to Win as a Family & Kissing Your Sister 

All of this falls under the heading of learning to play to win as a family, as opposed to winning for myself.

I wrote about this four years ago in Kissing your Sister – Playing for a Tie in the FamBiz.

The good news is that once you have established the type of culture in a family where the needs of the family come before anyone’s individual needs, it gets easier.

Education and clarity lead to understanding, and then giving everyone the time to accept whatever reality the family faces, are all important.

If you try to rush through acceptance to get straight to agreement, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.