What causes love/hate relationships in family businesses?

Business Leader Post, July 26, 2013

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

Family relationships never truly end. They are either constructive or destructive, but the emotional connection and the influence of family history remain in how we see others and how we function in the world.  Most family members are not in business together.

Consequently they have more freedom of choice as to how they deal with one another in terms of frequency of communication. If there is stress in a relationship, they can ignore it or not. It can affect the quality of the relationship or not. But either way, there is probably not going to be a consequence to their professional /financial lives.

When family members are in business together, there is no “escape.” They can ignore the issues for only so long. Inevitably the consequences of the stress/tension in those relationships will catch up to them. It is that feeling of being “chained” to one another that fuels the frustration and drives the feelings to the extreme. It is those feelings of being trapped and tied to one another without a vision for getting out that creates the love/hate relationship.

It is easy to become a part of the family business, but lifestyle and the lack of an impressive resume can make it difficult to get out.  Be cautious before you enter. If you choose to enter, address any presence of discomfort quickly.