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Can We Talk? Opening the lines of communication

By Patricia Schiff Estess

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How well does your family communicate? Consider thesesituations: 1. When you and a family member have tension at work,do you communicate your feelings directly to one another? 2. Whenyou have a business discussion with your family, do you spend moretime presenting your own viewpoint than listening to others? 3. Arethere some family members whose overpowering manner intimidatesothers? 4. Do you or other family members have difficultydisagreeing with each other? 5. When talking to another familymember about a business issue, do you sometimes feel there'smore to the discussion than the issue at hand? 6. Are there"undiscussable" topics you and your family never talkabout because they stir up unpleasant memories or are too"hot" to handle (such as someone's substance abuseproblem)? 7. When someone does something well, do you and otherfamily members make it a point to compliment each other? 8. Do youand your family members often laugh together?

If you answered yes to questions 1, 7 and 8 and no to theothers, read no further. You have reached a communicationspinnacle. Much like the four Shooster "kids," who overseeoperations at Communications Service Centers, a call centerspecializing in distributing information and fulfilling productorders for a variety of clients, you probably learned the art ofcommunication early on.

"We don't go through a psychoanalytical process when wetalk to each other," says Stephen Shooster, president of theMargate, Florida, company founded by his parents. "We learnedhow to get along from the time we were in the playpen. By now, weknow which buttons to push and which to stay away from."

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