Family Business Mediation Video No 47. Emotional Trauma. By Jon Kenfield. Solutionist

• Psychology is the science of understanding how people think, feel, behave and learn.

• I’m not a psychologist – other than at the “chicken soup” end of the scale – however, more than 20 years spent working with denizens of business families provides many opportunities to observe how people do actually think, feel, behave and learn – and the consequences for themselves, their families and friends, and the people they work with.

• Personal emotional trauma sits quite high amongst serious causes of conflict in those business families.

• Sometimes causes were accidental:- unforeseen and uncontrollable events, such as a home or car accidents.

• Sometimes economic or political – recession, depression, or war.

• Sometimes environmental – fire, flood, famine, drought, pestilence.

• Sometimes domestic – violent or abusive homes; absent, broken, inadequate or misguided parenting; lack of emotional intelligence or support.

• All causes create trauma. All trauma can lead to disruptive behaviours and dysfunctional relationships and, while these can be countenanced in a family they don’t go down well in business.


• The first and by far the most important response is: take courage and be honest. If a family member’s emotional trauma is causing bad behaviours, somebody has to own the problem and help to create a solution – the damaged individual almost certainly can’t do it alone.

• Don’t hide reality due to personal guilt, embarrassment, or excess of protectionism – that only reinforces bad behaviours and eventually leads to explosion or implosion.

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