Most family conflicts begin with some sort of miscommunication between family members. Loss of trust rapidly follows. The parties' attempts to put things right will often fail, or even backfire, not least because we all tend to focus on the wrong that we feel the other person has done to us, and go into denial/defence mode when he, or she, accuses us of something.
The argument quickly becomes about why each sees the other as being unreasonable in refusing to address "the real issues", and the likelihood of meaningful dialogue diminishes rapidly.
I help people focus on what is most important to them, and why, and to build a dialogue which, ideally, allows them to restore trust and respect between them.
Ken and Margaret Scott fell out with their son, Alex, several years ago when he began pushing to take over the family bakery business.
Margaret in particular felt that Alex was simply trying to "get rich quick" at his parents' expense, and had no regard for his father's hard work over the years, or indeed for his parents' needs going forward. The result was that they had spoken little since, to the point that Ken and Margaret had never seen their only grandchild.
In confidential meetings with Ken and Margaret, it became clear that they wanted to reconcile with Alex, and that they very much wanted the business to continue as a family business into the next generation. They also began to accept that, whilst he might have handled the situation badly, his motivations were not necessarily wholly self-serving.
Alex also wished to reconcile, not least so that his son could get to know his parents as well as his maternal grandparents. He also recognised that he had caused his parents considerable pain, and that his sense of guilt over that might have caused him to make some poor decisions.
Over a series of facilitated meetings Ken, Margaret, Alex and Jean (Alex's wife) were finally able to talk openly about these events, and began to explore ways in which Alex could once again become involved with the family business.
Over time, family life also began to return to normal.