Building better family communication means building a toolbox of resources

Effective communication in a family business means being able to talk about anything — but only after you’ve defined the parameters.

That’s some of the advice offered by Steven Moyer and son Aaron Moyer, family business consultants at SKM Associates in Harleysville, Pa.

The Moyers were the featured speakers at Thursday’s Small Business Development Series titled, “Communication in the Family Business: It Can Happen.”

 “It takes hard work, it takes wanting to hear what the other person has to say,” said Steven Moyer, who has more than 35 years of leadership, coaching and management experience.

The Moyers said that changing communication tactics begins with a careful self-evaluation of one’s own communication habits; modeling good communication behavior for other, younger family members; and understanding factors that make communication difficult. These could include everything from taboo topics to fear of conflict and misaligned expectations.

But one you’ve decided to address communications issues, the Moyers recommend building a toolbox of tips: Watch your tone of voice and body language, demonstrate an openness to feedback, and avoid reactive behavior.

For families that work together and must regularly talk business as a team, the Moyers suggest a communication code of conduct:

  • Establish the rules of the game.
  • Enlist the commitment of the group to abide by the rules.
  • Create individual and group awareness.
  • Empower each individual to give feedback on the effect of communication.
  • Model effective leadership to those in the family and the organization.

“This should be written by everyone,” said Aaron, who works with family businesses and organizations, “so that everyone has a chance to contribute and set the parameters.”

The event was held at the University & Whist Club and hosted by the Small Business Development Center and Delaware Business Times.

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