Family Business

The Risks of Not Listening


2 min




Listen to David as he defines well developed communication and its importance in a family business. Family business owners often have numerous ideas to share but underestimate the value of true listening. In addition to creating common goals, it is also important to effectively communicate within the business to avoid frustration and encourage cooperation and success.


David Bentall


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David Bentall (2)

I immediately think about a family that I had the privilege of working with where things did not end well and what happened with this family, and I’m thinking now of some co-owners who were second generation owners of a retail enterprise, and they had what I would describe as very modest communication skills. Not well developed communication skills. And what I think about in terms of communication is, what is communication? It’s two things, a sender and a receiver. It’s a speaker and a listener. And I think what many family enterprises struggle with is they have lots of ideas they want to communicate. These two co-owners, 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 the capacity, or didn’t have a well-developed capacity to listen to one ... View More another and as I think about it, what I’ve discovered is if families have a lack of empathetic listening skills, then they have a difficult time really communicating. If they have a difficult time communicating, then they have a difficult time understanding each other. A lack of understanding leads to a lack of collaboration. A lack of collaboration leads to divergent paths. Divergent paths lead to frustration. When people become frustrated with each other they become angry. Then they become hostile and pretty soon you have enmity, and 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 in this retailing enterprise both had common goals, but they were unable to communicate.