Family Time – Business Time

Friends and family sitting down for a rowdy lunch

It’s dinner time. The TV is off, food is on. The family gathers.

But it’s more than just eating. Meal time is a time for the family to come together after our respective busy days. It is a time to connect, tell the stories of the day, and share our thoughts feelings and experiences. It is a ritual and rhythm.

Some years ago, I took a lesson from my business and brought it home. What I knew in business was that – to communicate well – I had to have a process and a regular way in which to disseminate the information that needed to go up and down the line. This meant having simple tools like 1- regular times scheduled to convene and share, 2- agendas to guide our conversations, 3 – the right people in attendance and 4 – a time limit to the meeting.

Basically, we had a rhythm and flow – we all knew when we met, who was meeting and for what purpose.

Taking that ‘board room discipline’ home has been a fantastic and enriching experience for all of us in the family.

It began some years ago with my wife and I having a set of 4 questions. We asked these questions to each member of the family, and each answer opened up a wealth of sharing, stories, life lessons and laughter.

We originally felt concerned that the kids and my good wife would think it rather odd, stilted and contrived. Yes it certainly felt that way at first but, over time, this changed.

As the questions became ingrained into our nightly family dinner ritual and rhythm, what we noticed was that it felt natural – for all of us. So on the nights I was feeling tired, another member of the family would automatically initiate the conversation by asking the questions. Even more impressive was when my teenagers had friends over for dinner, they included their mates in the questions and conversations – without feeling embarrassed by it all.

So the transformation that occurred sounded like the difference between a monosyllabic “good” when asked how the day had been, to a fully rich conversation about aspects of the day that mattered the most to each member of the family.

The questions?

  1. Tell me about the best part of your day
  2. What was the most challenging part of your day?
  3. What did you learn from that? About the situation? Yourself?
  4. What or who are you most grateful for today?

So, could you ask these or similar questions in your businesses too? And if we are not getting the right answers from our staff and managers, perhaps we need to change the questions.

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