At the Alchemia Group we are helping our clients think & act differently in regards to their wealth and its impact on thier family - because we know it is more than just numbers and plans, it's the Balance of Art & Science with Pragmatism and Vision.
At most meetings I attend information is presented in one way, the way the presenter chooses to present it. In business settings this is, while not the most effective, ‘the standard’ simply because most people don’t realize there are other options available. This lack of understanding or realization, in a family setting, can be destructive.
Jakob von Uexkull (1864-1944), a Baltic German biologist, pioneered thinking around the idea that we each have a personal view or environment, an omwelt (pronounced ‘oom velt’) that causes us to perceive the outside environment uniquely. For example, if a wealthy developer and a restaurant critic are walking down a New York City street together, they will each process the physical surroundings differently. The critic will note the new restaurant and the smells emanating from it. The developer will see opportunity in the slightly tired, but architecturally interesting, pre-war building. Both will follow their own thought trails with, perhaps, very little commonality despite the fact that they are walking together down the same street. Only when one comments to the other and has his comment respected will the richness of the street view be increased. The developer might say to the critic “Isn’t it fascinating the way the cornices are set on that building?” As they are friends who respect each other, the critic will begin to appreciate another part of the street scene, one which his omwelt would ordinarily not take in.
When family members gather to talk about areas of common importance (even that may be a leap) they each bring their unique omwelt to the conversation. Family members with vastly different omwelt, as in our example, can often feel left out or marginalized. If you take time to appreciate and respect differences in individuals the conversations can be richer and more robust. When the youngest sibling questions the ‘greenness’ of a particular business rather than saying “That isn’t important”, more space can be created in the conversation for different perspectives with the response “Tell me more about your concerns.” Allowing each individual’s omwelt responses, reactions and questions into the conversation can lead to some surprisingly positive results.