NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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In Succession Planning, Silence is Not Golden

SilenceThe words we use when we communicate with others are only part of our message.  Equally, if not more important, is the tone, facial expressions, gestures, and body language we use.

When we are silent during a conversation or discussion, our silence may communicate something entirely different than what we intend. 

We can’t expect the other people in the conversation or discussion to read our mind.

Talking through succession planning issues is vital, but not necessarily easy.  For this reason, many families agree to adopt “Silence equals agreement” as one of their ground rules for succession planning discussions.  With this ground rule in place, if someone is silent and does not provide input during discussion, the family is allowed to interpret that person’s silence as agreement with what is being planned.

In a meeting or discussion, each person needs to be observant.  When you notice that someone is silent, encourage him/her to speak.  Ask what his/her opinion is, or ask if he/she has any thoughts on the matter or issue.  Sometimes just being invited to speak up will give that person a sense that his/her thoughts and opinions are welcome and wanted.

If someone has real difficulty speaking up, provide another way for him/her to provide input.  Perhaps they could write their thoughts, or voice record them, or speak in a one-on-one conversation to a family member who then shares it with the others.  Another option is to vote on issues when you are trying to determine if everyone is in agreement or not. 

Sometimes it helps to have a different seating arrangement.  Rather than sitting around a table with everyone facing each other, sit around the table with everyone facing outward.

Participants in Design Your Succession Plan program workshops learn how to have family business meetings.   Contact your local county extension office or visit https:///www.ag.ndsu.edu/succession/events to find a DYSP program that is offered at a place and time that fits your needs.

Photo Credit:  Photo by Maik Meid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. (Downloaded 10-14-16)



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