I can still remember it. The entire family is together for a holiday meal, and I’m stuck sitting at the little kids’ table.
For crying out loud, I’m 12 years old. I’m old enough to sit with the adults. Have you ever felt that way? The funny thing is, I don’t know if we ever really get past feeling 12 years old when we’re around family, especially older family members.
Even as we get older and develop an opinion of our own, it’s sometimes still hard to speak up. Your children and grandchildren may feel exactly the same way. They have opinions. They have things they want to say. But they feel reluctant to speak up.
Oftentimes, if they do choose to speak up, it’s when they feel very passionate about something. That’s not always the best time to have a discussion. What if it were possible to create a family structure that allowed everyone to have a voice and give feedback?
Consider the opportunity to give everyone a voice, but not necessarily a vote. What this means is that you’re willing to hear them out. You’re willing to understand where they’re coming from. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that they get to be a decision‑maker.
Through working with families, we have found this to be incredibly empowering and key in helping families. How might you go about doing this in your family?
First, it’s important that the family decides when and how they’re going to conduct family meetings. Most importantly, the meetings need to happen on a regular basis.
Most busy families plan to be together at least one time a year. Setting aside an hour or two where you can talk about important things that are going on inside of the family would be a great place to start.
If you can’t be together, consider hosting a virtual family meeting. There are several incredible software options that have been developed over the last few years, allowing you to do this efficiently and cleanly. You would also be able to record the meeting for those who are not able to attend.
Second, it’s important to prepare your heirs to lead. You can do this is by allowing them to help set the agenda and giving them the responsibility of leading certain portions of the discussion.
For example, a family member could present the family’s core values and talk about why those core values are important to the family.
This gives that family member an opportunity to lead and show their capabilities. It also reveals their personal viewpoint on how the family’s core values have brought the family together. It gives you an opportunity to see things from a different perspective.
Third, and most importantly, you need to create a space where you can hear their voice and prepare them to lead. You must be open to listening to their opinion. Every voice is important, and every person has a different opinion because of their experiences.
Consider how much it would unite your family if you each took time to understand why each person believes what they do, without judgment or criticism. Through truly listening, you might find that their perspective provides a different way of seeing the situation and might even affect the way that you think about it.
How many times has it been important to you to simply be heard? Inside of a family, communication is one of the most important elements, but also one of the most challenging. It doesn’t come easy, but it is essential.
Where in your life can you and your family come together, to make the time for everyone’s voice to be heard?
At Paradiem, we’ve enjoyed helping families find their voice. It’s been powerful to watch the transformation that happens as each voice in each family is given the opportunity to make a contribution. These are not conversations most families have. Let us help you start down this path. Give us a call at (985) 727-0770 or email [email protected].