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What’s More Important: Being Right or Having a Relationship?

Posted by Scott Lynett, Esq. | Jan 12, 2024 | 0 Comments

When facing tough conversations with loved ones, especially about sensitive topics like estate planning, the way we approach these discussions can significantly impact our relationships. As an estate planning attorney, I've seen many families navigate this delicate balance. I want to share some insights and strategies to help you maintain strong family ties while discussing important matters.

 Understanding the Delicate Balance

The saying "You can be right or you can have a relationship" highlights a common dilemma. It means that insisting on being right can sometimes harm your relationship. When it comes to estate planning, which includes making decisions about wills, trusts, and end-of-life care, emotions can run high. It's not just about the facts; it's about feelings, family dynamics, and the legacy someone wants to leave.

 Why It's Hard

Discussing estate planning is challenging for several reasons. First, it forces us to confront our mortality, which is uncomfortable for many people. Second, it involves talking about money and assets, topics often considered private or taboo. Lastly, it can bring up unresolved family issues or conflicts. All these factors can make these conversations highly charged and emotional.

 The Choice Between Being Right and Having a Relationship

Imagine you're discussing your parent's will, and you have a different opinion than your sibling about how to handle their property. You might be certain that your approach is the better one, but insisting on it could cause a rift between you and your sibling. Here, being "right" might win the argument but at the cost of your relationship. So, the question is, what's more important to you? Proving your point, or maintaining a strong, loving connection with your family?

 Strategies for Navigating Sensitive Conversations

1. Listen First: Start by really listening to what the other person has to say. Understand their perspective and feelings. This doesn't mean you have to agree, but acknowledging their feelings can go a long way.

2. Focus on Common Goals: Instead of concentrating on where you disagree, try to find common ground. Maybe you both want to ensure your parents are cared for or that the family home is preserved. Focusing on these shared goals can help guide the conversation in a positive direction.

3. Use "I" Statements: Express your thoughts and feelings without blaming or accusing others. Say things like "I feel" or "I believe," instead of "You always" or "You never." This reduces defensiveness and opens up space for understanding.

4. Seek Professional Help: Sometimes, bringing in a neutral third party, like an estate planning attorney or mediator, can help facilitate the discussion and keep things on track. Please feel free to contact my office using the below link. We are happy to discuss ways in which the essential topics can be addressed:

5. Know When to Take a Break: If the conversation gets too heated, it's okay to pause and come back to it later. Sometimes, a little time and space can make a big difference.

 The Role of Empathy and Compassion

Empathy and compassion are your best tools in these discussions. Try to see things from the other person's perspective. Remember, this is likely as hard for them as it is for you. Showing understanding and care, even in the face of disagreement, can strengthen your bond.

 Long-Term Impact on Relationships

The way you handle sensitive topics like estate planning can have a lasting impact on your family relationships. By choosing to prioritize the relationship over being right, you're setting the stage for a more harmonious family dynamic. This doesn't mean you should never stand up for what you believe in, but rather that the way you do it should foster respect and understanding.

 Final Thoughts

Navigating sensitive conversations with family members is never easy, especially when it comes to estate planning. However, by focusing on communication, empathy, and the bigger picture, you can ensure that your relationships remain strong and resilient. Remember, at the end of the day, the relationships we have with our loved ones are some of the most valuable assets we possess. They deserve our care, attention, and respect, just as much as any material wealth we might discuss.

In the realm of estate planning, sometimes the best legacy we can leave isn't the assets or money, but the example of love, understanding, and unity we set for future generations. So, next time you find yourself in a tough conversation, ask yourself: What's more important in this moment, being right or nurturing the relationship? Your answer to that question could make all the difference.

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