What Does “The Shrink” Think about the Role Emotions Play in Family Businesses?

Business Leader Post, March 28, 2013

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

During the last 30 years of consulting to family businesses, my clients have come up with a variety of nicknames for me; but mostly they call me “The Shrink.” I wear the name proudly. By referring to me as such, they are telling me that they are aware of my training as a psychologist; and they are implying that they have bought into the reality that emotions play a role in the family business.

They are also letting me know that at some level they are going to be asked to deal with the emotions and the underlying family issues that are interfering with the family business. Emotions are scary. Using the term “The Shrink” is a way to distance themselves from those emotions and to feel safer in the process of addressing them.

The best nickname of all was when the “guys” found out I was from Boston and referred to me as “The Strangler.” You don’t have to be a psychologist to figure that one out.