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Communication in a family business is crucial to the longevity of the organization. Communication has many different forms and elements including strategy, verbal and nonverbal, grapevine, and an organization’s constitution. In this stub article I will discuss these topics and more that have to do with communication inside and outside that family business. By communicating, people exchange and interact in many different ways. Communication is an essential attribute of human life, which is why we spend most of our time receiving and requesting information. Lack of communication creates tension and can destroy personal and business relationships. The ability to exchange information and converse with others is crucial to the success of an individual, family or business organization (Tho, Effective Communication).
A constitution in a family business can help with the relationships between managers, family members, and shareholders. These are usually more relevant in larger corporations, but they are very useful in smaller family ran enterprises. The primary articles contained in constitutions are:
1. The family’s vision and the nature of its commitment to the firm and its continuity.
2. The family values that have successfully guided the firm in its relations with customers, employees, suppliers, partners, competitors, and the community.
3. The desired behavior of the family toward the firm and its management.
4. Employment policy
5. Next-generation family-member development.
6. Ownership policy.
7. Family bank and/or family venture capital fund.
8. Dividends and family benefits policy.
9. Liquidity policy.
10. The board of directors and advisory board.
11. Family meetings and/or a family council.
12. Shareholder meetings. (Poza, 281)
Communication strategy is a vital part in any business strategy. Getting your product to where people know about it and buy it can take many different forms including mass communication, point-of-sale promotions, direct marketing, and direct selling. Barriers in culture make it difficult to communicate messages across different cultures. Cultural differences can be a problem if a family business dabbles in international business, which isn’t the case in most instances. Things such as values, norms, mores, folkways, and religion can determine communication barriers and form different communication strategies.
The oldest form of communication in a business and one of the fastest ways of moving information is through the grapevine. The grapevine is an informal and unstructured form of verbal communication used widely in most business atmospheres (McShane, 183). This can be a bad thing for companies because rumors that are spread through face-to-face contact are usually only partially true and are disregarded by many employees. Information technologies have brought the grapevine communication channel to another level. Things like twitter, aim, and facebook allow individuals to communicate quickly in any work environment. This could also lead to a decline in performance and productivity if not handled correctly.
The mix of verbal and nonverbal communication can make or break a deal when dealing with small business organization. Factors such as posture and tone of voice are very important elements to consider before communicating with clients and employees.
Computer-mediated communication has seen a rise in recent years, especially the use of e-mail. The use of e-mail has exploded onto the scene because messages can be received and sent at different times, allowing individuals to communicate at their convenience. E-mail is preferred by many companies for tasks such as posting schedules and communicating deadlines. With every form of communication there are downsides, and using e-mail is no exception. There are four common complaints when dealing with e-mails which include: Poor medium for communicating emotions, reduces politeness and respect, poor medium for ambiguous, complex, and novel situations, and contributes to information overload (McShane, 172).
Nonverbal communication can include things such as voice intonation, facial expressions, physical distance between respective peoples, and silence. There are two major differences when it comes to verbal and nonverbal communication. The first would have to be that we are taught our entire lives how to speak correctly, but we are not taught the different nonverbal communication cues and signs. The second difference is that most verbal communication is done in a conscious state of mind, while most nonverbal communication is done automatically or without previous thought. Things such as breathing and walking are done unconsciously (McShane, 174).
Communication is the platform for all information exchange in the business and non business world. This is especially prevalent in small family businesses due to their high reliability on communication between customers and suppliers.


1) Poza, Ernesto. Family Business. 3E. Cengage Learning, Print.
2) McShane, Steven, and Mary Glinow. ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR essentials. 2nd. ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. Print.
3) Hill, Charles. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS competing in the global marketplace. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. Print.
4) Tho, Ashish. "Effective Communication - A key to success in business." Ezine Articles 01, 01, 2010: n. pag. Web. 28 Feb 2010. <http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ashish_Tho >.
5) "Types of Communication." msdn.microsoft.com. 1998. Microsoft Corp., Web. 28 Feb 2010. <http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa480463.aspx>.

Article Contributor
Hervey Fisher