Resolving Family Disputes and Upsets

Despite what you might think, the upsets and disputes that periodically occur between family members don’t represent the biggest threat to family unity. Instead, the inability to diminish or resolve these inescapable disputes is the single biggest threat to continued family unity.

In their book Preparing Heirs, authors Roy Williams and Vic Preisser identify some of the key causes of wealth transition failures. The authors conducted a 20-year study, involving several thousand wealthy families and discovered that 70 percent of inherited wealth is lost in the generation immediately following those who created and passed on the wealth.

A full 60 percent of these wealth transition failures occurred due to a breakdown of trust and communication within the families. In other words, an inability to resolve conflicts caused irreconcilable problems that destroyed unity in these families, leading to a rapid and tragic loss of inherited wealth.

The DMG Family Unity Program

Our proprietary program works to resolve conflicts within a family – or, any group of people, actually. We start by educating participants about a number of key factors involved in disputes and conflicts within a family. Our team explains:

  1. How the brain processes information. Our brains constantly process massive volumes of information. We condense that information into useful chunks by doing three things: we distort, delete, and generalize. This process gives each of us a unique view of the world – our own personal reality. The first step to effective conflict resolution involves asking family members to accept the possibility that their perception associated with an upset or dispute could be due to the brain’s natural tendency to distort, delete, and generalize certain information.
  2. Why we believe we are right. The next step toward learning how to effectively resolve conflict involves understanding the part of the brain known as the Reticular Activating System. Simply put, our eyes and ears see and hear what our brains tell them to. At this point we behave toward those we perceive as wrong in one of six ways (none of them productive). We either: declare ourselves right; declare the other person wrong; dominate others; avoid their domination; justify our own position; or invalidate the position of others. If you start to pay attention, you’ll see that most statements people make during an argument amount to positioning themselves in one of these six ways.
  3. Reactive behavior patterns. Next, we make each member aware of reactive behavior patterns. Each family member has his or her own particular behavior patterns that resulted from past traumatic events they’ve experienced, that emerge when they’re involved in a current upset with others. They lack self-awareness about these reactive patterns and as a result our negative emotions and feelings take over, placing their behavior on autopilot. Typically, these reactive patterns are so ingrained within a family that only a trained facilitator can spot them. Once identified, family members become more self-aware, allowing them the opportunity to reject their typical behaviors and choose a different response. This immediately changes the dynamic within the conflict and paves the way for positive resolution.
  4. How to mindfully diminish or resolve a conflict. Families must allow each member to fully communicate his or her perspective. We facilitate this process by providing families with a structured conversation that enables each person involved to completely deliver their thoughts and to feel validated and truly heard. Understanding one another’s perspectives is the starting point for forgiveness and resolution.

When families work with us, we provide the tools, techniques, and experience necessary to accomplish the vital task of resolving conflicts that weaken familial bonds and threaten to tear them apart. We designed the Family Unity Program as an interactive process, one that can often provide solutions to conflict within the first day.

We’ve experienced astonishing successes when families and organizations commit to using these tools and techniques each time a conflict arises between them. When each family member uses them diligently, it opens up entirely new opportunities for closeness, collaboration, and alignment as they work to create a thriving family experience for themselves and their loved ones.

If your family suffers from unresolved conflicts that get in the way of experiencing the close relationships you crave, we promise you, there’s hope. Don’t give up. Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help.