At BFF we asked David Bentall to share a story about enterprising families and communication skills:
I immediately think about a family where things didn’t end well. The two second-generation co-owners had modest communication skills. They each had lots of ideas that they wanted to communicate to the other but what was lacking was empathetic listening. They didn’t have a well-developed capacity to listen to one another.
If families lack empathetic listening skills then they have a difficult time communicating and understanding each other. This leads to a lack of collaboration, which leads to divergent paths, which leads to frustration. When people become frustrated with each other they become angry. Then they become hostile and soon you have enmity.
In this case the family business was torn apart. Why was it torn apart? Very few people recognize it’s because they just couldn’t empathetically listen to each other. These two folks both had common goals but they were unable to communicate.
To reinforce what’s meant by "empathetic listening", which of the following responses is a model of it?
Speaker: “When I think about how the family business is having to lay people off, it’s really not great.”
Response 1: “I find that tough situations like this can stimulate personal growth. I think that, for some people, it will open up new opportunities.”
Response 2: “I totally agree it’s not great. That’s why we must revise the redundancy plan. Immediately!”
Response 3: “It’s very tough on everyone.You are taking this personally, aren’tyou.”
Among the three responses, only the last one doesn’t include the word “I”. Also it doesn’t contain advice on what to think (response 1) or a proposal for action (response 2). Response 3 is the one that shows empathetic listening.
BFF subscribers can find out more by logging into www.businessfamilies.com and watching our video The Risks of Not Listening.
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