Difficult conversations


08Sep 2013

Do You Communicate in Morse Code, FM radio waves or HDTV?

The fact that people have different communication styles in not news. However, I have found a “word picture” that seems to really help individuals get a better sense of how different they are from others, and also gives a clearer understanding on the challenges they have in communicating effectively with those close to them. There is a wide range in

22Mar 2013

Why “Everybody Just Get Along” Isn’t a Good Long-term Strategy for a Healthy Family

In working with family-owned businesses for several years now, I’ve seen one pattern of relating that consistently doesn’t work over the long term.  In many families there is a mantra that dictates the family members’ behavior, and that can carry over to the business as well.  It is: “Now let’s all just get along.”  While the “just get along” message

14Nov 2010

Common Concerns in Transferring Wealth — Confirmations from Princeton

Last week I had the opportunity and privilege of being one of three facilitators at an event at Princeton University entitled, “Conversations about Family, Wealth & Philanthropy”. With my long-time friend, Doug Bauer (CEO of the Clark Foundation, formerly of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) and my new friend, William Zabel (well-know estate planning attorney in NYC and author of The Rich

24Oct 2010

Reflecting Reality — Sometimes Means Telling People Things They Don't Want to Hear

When working with people in my role as a coach or counselor, I often tell them that part of my role is to “reflect reality” to them — to give them objective and honest feedback on how I see their situation, and what choices they actually have (versus the choices they wish they have). Some examples include: *Helping family business

28Dec 2009

The Problem with Trying to Be "Fair" With Your Children

In my role as a family coach for wealthy families, one of the common issues that arises is the parents’ desire to be “fair” with their children and grandchildren. (I put “fair” in quotation marks because it really is an unusual term that is defined differently by many people and is almost totally based on perception.) For whatever reason, and

02Sep 2009

Keys to a Long Term Relationship — Reflecting on 30 Years of Marriage

This week my wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  Neither she nor I can believe we have been married that long — part of it is that we just don’t feel that “old”! (To keep the edge of reality a bit less sharp, we usually comment that we were only 12 when we got married.) But as we

11Jan 2009

When Bad Things Happen: Times for Family Closeness

Part of life is the fact that “bad things happen” – a car accident, serious physical problems, death of a family member, loss of a job,  — all kinds of events are possible. Recently, I have had a number of family members and friends struggle with serious physical problems:  brain tumors, breast cancer, back problems, vertigo, depression, kidney malfunctions.  (I

24Aug 2008

What to Say When You Don't Have Anything to Say

I didn’t write an entry last week because I couldn’t really think of much to say. Nothing profound or new (not that my entries are typically profound.) So I decided to “think on it”. This week, I don’t necessary have anything new (again), but I have been thinking about those situations when you don’t have much to say — and

14Jul 2008

How to Create Problems in Your Life: Avoid Conflict

I have observed a common pattern across many areas that I work (and live) — people avoiding dealing with tense or conflictual situations in their relationships with others. And almost always, not dealing with the situation creates additional problems or makes the conflict larger and more intense (often involving more people than were originally involved). And it happens in lots of

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