About Dear Abel and Sofi: This Alignable column gives our small business owners an outlet to anonymously share the kinds of frustrations, fears and private struggles few people express openly. Father-daughter duo Abel and Sofi co-author the column, bringing diverse perspectives to both professional and personal problems. A serial entrepreneur and counselor, Abel, 65, is known for his empathy and his uncanny understanding of many issues. Co-owner of a salon, Sofi, 28, has a younger, more candid approach to life’s challenges. Beyond appearing on Alignable’s Q&A Forum, now this column in syndicated in outlets including the Focus Newspaper in NC and The Yankee Xpress in MA. To submit your anonymous questions to Abel and Sofi, please click here.
Dear Abel & Sofi,
My daughter and I work together. Our personalities are quite different, as it appears you two are, as well. I opened my business in 2002, and my daughter, Lily, has been with us for almost 5 years. We’re in HR and we’ve been struggling with technology over the last few years. Everyone has a system, including ourselves, but I’m not sure we have the right one. Ultimately, I end up deferring to Lily, as she’s more of a techie than I am. But she gets impatient when I ask so many questions. She wants me to simply trust her decision and leave it at that. Down deep, I know she’s right. But that kind of response makes my blood pressure rise. So that leads to my overall question: How do you handle each other’s shortcomings and some of the drama they can create?
Thanks, Daddy-Daughter Drama
P.S. — This is so cool that you are doing this column. Thank you very much!
Dear Daddy-Daughter Drama: First, thanks so much for that great note — especially the P.S. message! We’re having a good time writing this column, and ironically, it helps us dial back our own drama.
Regarding your situation, it’s perfectly natural to have some generational tension between a dad and daughter, especially at work. But one way around that is to acknowledge her strengths and yours.
If you’re more of a sales expert and she’s more of a techie, let her run with more of the tech issues, sending you updates and her reasoning for decisions she’s making. Then just limit your questions to the most important ones and be sure to praise her process when you like what you’re seeing. I’ve been in the workforce for 40 years and I have yet to find anyone who really enjoys being micromanaged, especially if your manager is your father!
But here’s what your daughter probably doesn’t realize: as a parent, you just want your kid to succeed and you think part of that process is monitoring everything she does, so she doesn’t make a mistake that you could help her avoid.
You’re just being protective (of her and your business), but she’s probably insulted that you don’t appear to have confidence in her.
At the same time, she probably cares a lot about pleasing you, but perhaps, you never seem to be all that happy. She doesn’t know that you’re likely concerned about 1,000 other things small business owners worry about and, frankly, you might be too distracted to acknowledge everything good that she’s doing.
So do yourself and your daughter a favor and work hard to try to look at the situation from her perspective. You’ll thank me later, because you might actually learn something new that really helps you drive your business further and faster. And be sure to credit her with helping you to look at things in new ways, whenever you can. After all, that’s something a small business owner should be doing more often than not to keep moving ahead.
I’m sure you two will work it all out eventually. As you noted, Sofi and I have our share of differences, especially when it comes to working together. But we try to address them openly and we never want misunderstandings at work to carry over into our personal relationship.
That Dad-Daughter connection is unlike any other in the realm of human experience, and it needs to be cherished and preserved no matter what. The fact that you wrote that note asking for help is a huge step in the right direction! As a fellow father, I’m proud of you for sending it in the first place.
All my best,
Hey Drama Dad: My Dad hit the nail on the head here when he said the Dad-Daughter connection is what you need to preserve. And I, too, really like it that you wrote us about the situation you’re in now.
What it really comes down to is understanding. She needs to do more to help understand you, and you need to do the same. It’s on both of you!
How do I know? Because Dad and I had a similar issue about six months ago, when I thought he was being too aloof with me.
We were at a nice restaurant and I asked him for advice about my salon and about a boyfriend at the time. He just keep eating his dinner, telling me he’s sure I’m doing the right thing and to quit worrying about it. And that’s all he said!
I got pissed off and headed to the bathroom. It took me a few minutes to get my composure back, but when I returned, I told him that he’s acting like he cares about other people’s problems much more than mine. (Hint: If your daughter wants to really get your attention, she should use that line).
His eyes popped behind those thick glasses and he thanked me for telling him that. Then he said, “Honey, while I care about a lot of people, there’s no one I care about more than you in the whole universe. But I also know I’ve probably given you all the advice you’ll ever need — almost every day for the last 28 years!”
I shook my head and told him I still want him to give me advice, especially as I stumble over new problems at my salon like hiring (which really sucks, by the way!). “And Dad, anything you can ever say to help me understand men better would be good to hear, too,” I told him.
So from that point on, he has been very attentive and has given me all sorts of advice, whether I wanted it or not!
Please take your daughter out to dinner and make sure she knows how important she is to you — at work and as a huge part of your life. Then do your best to ensure you’re communicating openly and helping each other to overcome your issues together.
Thanks again for writing,
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