The Traits Of A Great Conversation
In families and family businesses, the art of conversation is the cement of relationships and unity. It is about connection, empathy and engagement, leading to belonging and then contribution. Many of us are not good at meaningful conversations, but as with all arts, there are basic skills that can be mastered.
Out of 10, how would you score the level of meaningful conversations that occur in your family?
Part 1 — The Art of Conversation
It may be the one time of the year in which all your family are gathered together in celebration. It is the perfect opportunity to renew and revitalize connections and to seed conversations that may continue for many months to come.
In many families, the one barrier to meaningful conversations is the hierarchical structure that exists from parent to child and elder child to younger siblings. And with those differing years of experience, the desire to speak into people’s lives to guide them and offer them the benefits of experience.
But meaningful conversations typically start with being approached and actively listening while maintaining silence. The urge to jump in with the immediate solution can often be overwhelming, but you must await the invitation to offer advice, which may not come.
Conversations are about listening, not just to the words but to the whole person and hearing what is really being said. Unpacking and understanding what is being communicated and allowing them to set your role in the conversation — listener, supporter and maybe advisor.
Conversations are firstly about sharing with a hope of empathy from the listener — empathy being the willingness to be fully attentive to the conversation.
And of course, sincere enquiries can open the door to meaningful conversations. But that requires authenticity in your willingness to listen.
Creating relationships where meaningful conversations are the norm can take time. It is about building that authenticity — an acceptance and respect of who each of you are as individuals. And from this foundation being asked for and able to offer support and advice, in both directions.
Families, and family businesses, which are founded in two-way ‘meaningful conversations’ are enduring, unified in purpose, and compound their strength across generations.