Turkey Talk: Discussing Family Business Issues at Holiday Get-Togethers - Blair Trippe

Image from Unsplash by Jed Owen

As the holidays are growing near, the impending doom of ill-timed get-togethers can be a concern for many families. Navigating the holidays is never easy, despite what Hallmark cards depict. I recently wrote an article for Continuity Family Business Consulting titled ‘Turkey Talk: Discussing Family Business Issues at Holiday Get-Togethers.’ It provides some insight into how the holidays can be made enjoyable while keeping important decisions at the fore. The article also mentions the kinds of conflicts that can come up during this time for families who may have certain business entanglements as well.

“When families work together or share ownership of significant assets, it’s hard to prevent business issues from leaking into family events. The comfort of the family get-together can often yield a false sense of security for discussing issues more appropriately left at the office.”

This can be hard on those members excluded from the business. Engagement between elderly family members and millennials adds another element of conflict to holiday time gatherings.

“Before confronting these situations, recognize that family businesses have conflict embedded in their very structure and your situation is not atypical. It’s also important to remember that families ─ no matter how unusual you may think yours is ─ are in it together. Don’t let the holidays pass without discussing your concerns in a constructive way with other family members. You may be surprised that some have similar feelings, enabling you to make some headway with a difficult family business leader.”

“It may be that there is no crisis and no imminent decisions to make. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t come up with a plan for how you and your family discuss the family business.”

“Remember that failing to plan is planning to fail. So, try to take some time with your family to consider where you are and what short-term and long-term needs you see going forward. How can personal and business responsibilities be shared? How can new roles be defined? How can changes or transitions be considered? How should decisions be made?”

These are some questions that can be discussed ahead of time to ensure a conflict-free holiday period. A third-party mediator is another option that I mention in the article. Each family navigates the holidays differently, and there are solutions available for each one.

“You don’t have to wait until the New Year to resolve to talk to your family members, especially when families find themselves in complex situations. Family relationships are too important to risk. Don’t wait for a crisis. Talk turkey now.”

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About Blair Trippe: Blair is a managing partner at Continuity Family Business Consulting specializing in negotiations and conflict resolutions. She co-authored the book “Mom Always Liked You Best — A Guide to Resolving Family Feuds, Inheritance Battles and Eldercare Crises,” a guide to help families communicate and negotiate effectively. Blair also co-authored “Deconstructing Conflict,” a book about understanding family business, shared wealth, and power. Blair combines her experience in adult family communication and conflict resolution with her business skills to provide clarity, insights, and directional advice to address complex issues that often face family-owned and operated enterprises.

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