Tips for Managing Family Differences

I recently visited my roots, my family of origin.  We had a successful gathering.  We enjoyed being with each other, and also had to make decisions regarding our larger family goals, such as managing the family farm.  In almost every family, individual members often can have different views.  While this can give rise to potential conflict, it can also lead to stronger and more effective teamwork. The challenge is to stay positive, working in individual perspectives, while also looking at the best interest of the whole. Here are three tips for managing differences so as to create success.  

Focus on the Positive

Celebrate your strengths. We all have individual strengths and at the same time share deeper values and strengths with the people we love. Recognizing your character strengths, such honesty, love of learning, sense of humor, is important because it focuses on what you love to do that also serves the greater good. Family is a good place to discover and share them.   When you can use your strengths to serve a cause greater than yourself, it is deeply gratifying.  You can learn more about the power of the character strengths in my article, “The Hidden Power,”    http://www.lifetreesolutions.com/news/newsletters/2006/05/hidden-power

Express your appreciation and gratitude. It builds positive energy, broadens your perspective, and facilitates your productivity and creativity. It will help you become more inclusive, considering the views of everyone, rather than fighting over one solution or another. Over time, the positive is more powerful than the negative. When you express your appreciation, it brings out the higher positive power of life. 

Be Aware of the Ghosts

Every family has ghosts. These are old patterns from the past, not fully resolved, that threaten to destroy the family unity and joy. Suspect a ghost if you are picking up negative vibes, gossip, blaming, or a constricted view.   Be curious, is this really true?  Then work to take positive action. You cannot change another person, but you can change yourself. Facing challenges and choosing to transform them is deeply empowering.  A major success in any family is to keep the ghosts away.

Ask yourself, what can I do to create a more positive solution?  Often, negativity stems from false assumptions from the past.  When you release them, it creates a much brighter future and helps you to communicate more effectively.  Even better, the work of any one person in the family has a positive impact on the whole. 

If you are having difficulty staying positive, check out Barbara Fredrickson’s positivity website, www.positivityratio.com and take the online test.  Fredrickson discovered that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads people to a tipping point towards flourishing and resilience. Successful businesses have a positivity/negativity ratio 2.9/1. Successful marriages have a positivity/negativity ratio of 5/1. If you find your ratio is negative, then look for ways to raise it.  If you need help, call me.

Let Solutions Emerge

I have found in my family that decisions are much easier when we have short and long range goals.  Some decisions need to be made immediately while others can wait. Think through your priorities and sort out your short-term goals from the long-term goals. Then create a holding space for the longer term goals. When you are positive, this holding space allows for the goodness of life and necessary time for new solutions to emerge. It keeps you minds open, allowing for creativity and resilience, rather than fighting over one or another position. You will be surprised at the success of your ability to work together.