Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I am beginning to wonder if I have set myself up for disaster.
I just launched a new company. Things are starting slow but the sales are beginning to build.
After serious thinking, I decided to quit my job, give up my apartment, and move back to the family house in order to have more time for the business. I am sharing the house with my brother, who is a partner in the business.
I have a realistic plan, a good product, and I have laid the groundwork with intelligence and perspective. What’s the problem? My brother!
Where I am serious, hard working and conscientious, he is flighty, head strong and easily frustrated. He seems to be in a permanent contest with me and if I say white, he says black. He refuses to discuss business decisions- if he’s doing it, he’s doing it HIS way. There is constant friction.
One of the reasons I started the business was so he could have a chance to establish himself- he’s 45 and can’t hold a job, although he’s talented and bright.
Don’t suggest I move out or get rid of him. This is a family business. But how can I cope?
It is always easier not to get into a situation than to try to get out of it. There is a reason your brother is 45 and can’t keep a job. Perhaps you thought you could fix him; but statistically, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.
I suggest you hire a third party negotiator. Formulate a contract with specific concrete roles and expectations. Ambiguity can be the death of a new startup. Some people need everything spelled out.
If your brother were in a position where you, and the business, needed to depend on him, could you? My guess is no.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: it’s a nice idea to introduce a third party to mediate, but if your brother is in a serious rivalry with you, a mediator isn’t going to help because your brother will never agree to it. Fifteen years or so of family therapy are recommended first.
Granny isn’t sure that any attempts at reason are going to help this mess. If you refuse to get rid of your brother, I suggest that you find something with which to blackmail him…something he is afraid of. People who will not listen to reason often respond very well to fear.
Granny admires your desire to help your brother, but she predicts you are going to want to hang yourself if this continues.