Go to the Source 

Want to decrease the amount of drama and gossip in your family, business, or team?

Start talking to people instead of about them. Create a culture where people go to the source.

Let's say you have a disagreement with a business partner. It can be tempting to go to a third party, like a colleague, to vent, get it off your chest, and be understood. Sometimes this eases the tension so much that you don't go back to your business partner and have the conversation you actually need to have with them.

Sometimes when you go to a third party, they themselves get upset. They feel hurt for you. They feel angry at your business partner too! The conflict spreads.

Scenarios like these are why someone has likely encouraged you not to triangulate -- not to bring a third party into your conflict. But the ironic thing about that advice is a third party probably gave it to you -- a colleague,  coach, friend, or even a book. So a third party isn't always bad. It depends.

Whether or not a third party is helpful depends on how you use them.

  • Do you use them as a sounding board?
  • As someone to validate your feelings?
  • Are they someone who can also challenge you and ask if you've considered your part?
  • Can they help you consider alternative perspectives?
  • Encourage you to give your partner the benefit of a doubt?

The helpfulness of a third party also depends on the person that you're talking to.

  • Can they stay objective?
  • Will they help prepare you to go back to your business partner and talk about what happened?
  • Are they able to stay neutral while they help yo u-- and not get "infected" by the conflict?

If so, utilizing a third party can actually be helpful. If it prepares you to go to the source -- to the business partner who hurt you, disappointed you or let you down -- and have that conversation.

That's the other side to triangulation. It is not always bad, but it depends on what you seek from it and the skill of the person you go to.

If you want to have great relationships in your family, business, and team, go to the source and talk to people, not about them.

If you need a third party to help you prepare for that conversation, be wise in who you select and ask them for what you need -- to be a sounding board to help you prepare to go back to your business partner -- and hold you accountable -- to help you go to the source.

Consider this:

  • How often do you triangulate other people who get "infected" with the conflict?
  • What collateral damage is this causing your family, organization, or team?
  • Who might you utilize instead -- as an objective third party to help prepare you to go to the source?

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Melissa Mitchell-Blitch

About the author

A former CPA, my career started at a Big 5 accounting firm. As part of the Family Wealth Planning group, I saw the challenges of family business and family wealth. Those challenges often overshadowed the enjoyment of working with family. I was convinced there had to be a better way, but could not find anyone who could help navigate the intersection of family, business, and wealth. Determined, I left my career in finance and earned a Masters in Psychology.
In the almost two decades since, I have learned how families can thrive -- even when business is personal. Let me help you, your family, and its business thrive.

Let's talk about what matters to you.

I am based in Charleston, SC and serve clients across North American and abroad.

To schedule a consultation and see if we are a good fit to work together, please contact me directly via phone or email.