Yes, I am emotional. l am your sister, brother, son, daughter, mother, father, another family member. We not only work together, we grew up in the same family. We share common experiences and emotional history–ingrained touch points that can trigger easily. Because of this familiarity, emotions can spill over into a family business much more often than would be acceptable in a non-family business.
In themselves emotions are not bad; they are valuable. Their energy drives the human psyche; they serve as social signals. When funneled properly emotional energy can be used to achieve significant positive outcomes. Unbridled, emotions can cause untold devastation.
Denying one’s emotions or discrediting those of others is destructive. It is important to cultivate an emotional intelligence to recognize our own and other people’s emotions; to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately. We are then better equipped to manage our thinking and behavior to maintain harmony in our families and success in our family enterprises, especially during times of increased stress.
Emotional intelligence is so vital to the success of family businesses that as part of my Family Business Management class at Baruch College, City University of New York, I have students assess their own level of emotional intelligence, and – since we can increase our capacity for emotional intelligence – develop a plan for doing so for themselves.