This post is inspired by a recent lack of communication between my wife, Gwen, and me. It reminded me of how we had to manage communication with Joshua, our young entrepreneur. At first, we didn’t realize there was an issue, but a couple of confrontations identified the problem. We had to figure out how to talk to each other all over again.
I was Joshua’s parent, business adviser and educator. The problem was that the conversations on all these topics would run together and get very convoluted. I found myself praising him for a great pitch to investors in one breath and chewing him out for his room being a mess in the next. Gwen was not always in on some of our business conversations, which was another issue we dealt with, and would expect Joshua to be responsible for some school or family task without knowing Joshua and I had agreed on some other prioritization of his time. It was confusing and frustrating for all of us. We had to do something different. We were all living two different lives, the normal one with school, family and friends, and the business one with product development, meetings, pitches and investors. It was challenging, tiring and incredibly exciting.
Here’s what we did. We treated business conversations like a business meeting. We had certain times of the day devoted to business discussions, and planned topic focused conversations just like any other business meeting. When casual conversation morphed into business, we had to all be conscious of what was happening and decide whether to table it and schedule a business conversation. Gwen limited our business conversations during our family dinner. She said that was a family activity and she was absolutely right. She helped us set boundaries and priorities.
Yes, it was weird and a bit hard to get used to. However, without compartmentalizing and organizing our conversations, chaos ensued that had a negative impact on our family. With faith and family as top priorities for us, this was an unacceptable consequence.
THE TAKEAWAY: Good communication is critical for businesses and families to be successful. It is important that communication issues be recognized and dealt with immediately. Allowing poor communication to fester will undermine our friendships, families and businesses.