Newsletter No. 11 – March 22nd, 2024
Written by a human. 

Dr. William Ickes is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington.

He is best known for his work on empathic accuracy (i.e. being able to read other’s thoughts and intentions).

Through his research, Ickes found that two strangers, upon meeting and talking, were able to accurately predict what the other person was thinking only 20% of the time.

Not great.

Ickes also found that family members were only able to predict what another family member was thinking 35% of the time!

In my engagements with clients, I will often hear a family member say something along the lines of “Well…I’m sure my [brother, sister, mom, or dad] is thinking [this].”

Are you sure?

If your family hopes to build a stronger family enterprise, you have to start with dialogue. I cannot stress enough how important it is to communicate with your family members, especially if you work together. Even if you think you know what someone is thinking, show them the most profound respect imaginable by asking them explicitly:

  • what they think about a topic, especially when tackling a sensitive matter. Then, go a step further and ask them to describe
  • why they think what they think.

The reality is, we all have our own unique lived perspectives in this world and from day to day our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions can change. Isn’t it better to know than to assume?

After all, to assume something often makes an a_ _ out of you and me (but usually more me than you).

– Josh Gentine

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