Holiday Conversation Do’s and Don’ts

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It’s coming! Whether you dread spending extra time with you family, or cherish every minute of it, the holiday season is inevitable and fast approaching. For families that work together in a family business, holiday gatherings can carry a certain kind of added stress: to talk about business or not?

Families that are used to spending time together in a business environment can find it especially hard to avoid talking about business when they are together, it’s kind of a natural reflex to dive right into business discussions. Moreover, uninterrupted and focused time can be hard to come by in the workplace and yet it seems so plentiful during the holidays. The conditions are ripe for critical business conversations. We suggest you avoid the temptation and use the holiday time to focus on nurturing other parts of your family relationships that can often be overlooked when you work closely with your family.

Here are some of the top Do’s and Don’ts for holiday family time which, if followed, should help you avoid stressful topics and help cultivate the kinds of close personal relationships that make family businesses so successful.

  1. Year-End Bonuses & Raises: Resist the urge to bring up money and promotions, you will often be putting someone else on the spot and it may feel manipulative to use the environment of good cheer during the holidays to ask for more from the business.
  2. Initiatives for the Coming Year: You’ve got great ideas, you’re excited about growth in the coming year, and you want to share the enthusiasm: don’t! While you may be excited about your ideas, remember that others haven’t had as much time to think them through. By introducing your ideas at a time when others in the business aren’t in the same mind-set you risk an undesirable reaction to your ideas that may negatively impact its chance for support.
  3. Vacation time request: Scheduling sufficient manpower through the holidays can be difficult and require extensive planning, by asking for time off at the last minute you’re putting everyone in a bind.
  4. Absent family members: As people hop around to different gatherings throughout the holidays to spend time with in-laws and friends, you may find yourself together with some, but not all, of your family members. Don’t use this time to complain about the members that are not present, it sets a negative tone for the entire family and makes others wonder what is said about them when they aren’t around.

  1. Gratitude & Thanks: Use the time together with your loved ones to talk about what and who you are thankful for, and remember to be specific. While it may feel unnatural or awkward, you may be surprised how appreciative others are to hear your gratitude. It could even set the stage for everyone to be more positive and thankful.
  2. Personal interests: Any idea what your brother likes to do for fun? How about what books your mom is reading? Have you told anybody that you are training for the marathon next year? Even though you see your family daily, it can be hard to find the time to connect on a personal level. Use the holiday time together to cultivate your personal bonds.
  3. Family: Family members who are not in the business can sometimes feel like they aren’t part of the same group as those who are. Use the time that you are all together to learn more about your family members who aren’t in the business and even the extended families of those who are. You’ll strengthen the core bonds of your entire family.


And last but not least…Do! Unplug, and Enjoy!

It’s the holidays, you’ve worked hard all year. Put the smartphone away and disconnect from the emails. Take the time to enjoy the wonder of the season and build some memories with those who are the most special to you—your family.


BCR has extensive experience in working with many family-owned businesses in all of our areas of services. If you have any questions or need advice regarding your family-owned business, please give us a call at (808)545-4111. Or reach out via our Contact Us page.


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