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Having the Right Conversation

January 18, 2016, 5

Two children glaring at each other.LegacyConnection

Kevin Spafford, CFP®

The success of planning is strongly influenced by the quality and the quantity of communication within the family. A family with good communication channels can overcome the seemingly impossible, whereas a family who can’t speak candidly will face nearly insurmountable challenges.

Five keys to good communication include:  

  1. Clearly define your objectives or the intent of each interaction. Before you engage in a conversation, write an email, or make a phone call – know the purpose. Conflict is often based upon misunderstandings, so making goals and agendas clear can avoid major missteps.
  2. Seek common ground. Even in the midst of a dispute, try to determine what the parties can agree on. That starting point (i.e.: “We agree we want financial security for our mother”) helps clarify priorities, and reminds everyone of the goals they share. 
  3. Be open to alternatives. Remembering that there may be multiple ways to achieve a common goal can help everyone avoid becoming defensive or argumentative when an alternative idea is presented.  A compromise solution may turn out to be best for the owner, the family. and the farm.
  4. Acknowledge that it takes complementary qualities to create a world class operation. Misunderstanding may be based on someone having different motivations, abilities, skills, and/or vision, yet those differences may serve as the balancing characteristics necessary to build a business bigger-than-self.
  5. Know that it’s okay to disagree. Conflict is both normal and healthy, and some level of disagreement should be expected in every conversation. Make it clear that conflict is acceptable, and listen to the other point of view. Any attempt to silence dissent can lead to unspoken resentments and a broken communications process.

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Note: We also invite you to follow Legacy by Design's company page on LinkedIn, highlighting a new succession-related topic each month.

Have questions specific to your family?  We’re always happy to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your family’s succession objectives, review potential next steps, and determine how we can help.

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