Do You Have a Pet Peeve?

Business Leader Post, May 23, 2013

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

I have been getting positive feedback on my weekly blog. Consequently, I have the confidence to risk talking about something that I find irritating at best and disturbing at worst.

Everybody I talk to who works in the world of family owned businesses talks about the need to be part psychologist. I totally agree. The most effective practitioners establish a level of rapport through their capacity for empathy that allows them to work effectively with their clients. Empathy is the single most important ingredient in successful therapeutic relationships.

However, too many professionals believe that if they have taken undergraduate psychology courses or have majored in psychology, they are able to understand human behavior. They mistakenly believe that their basic knowledge of psychology, along with their expertise and experience in their given field, gives them the right to interpret the motives and desires of family members in a family business system.

I have never met, nor do I expect to meet a professional with a background in business who can interpret correctly the drives or the feelings of others. They have no context or experience in clinical work to give them the permission to do that.  I have witnessed too many catastrophic situations come about because professionals allow their unrealistic assessment of their abilities to interfere with their intelligence.

Fortunately, most professionals with whom I have worked respect the boundaries of their knowledge.  For those who stretch their expertise into the area of psychology, please stop it!  You are practicing without a license.