Creating a family code of conduct

“Codes of conduct bring families together to listen,” by Dennis Jaffe, Family Business Magazine, September/October 2012

A code of conduct is a list of rules (or expectations) for communication to which everyone agrees to adhere when they meet or interact as a family.

As your first step in developing a family code of conduct, consider asking each family member to list a statement that he or she feels the family must agree on in order to create a safe harbor for communication. The first things that inevitably come up are statements like "Don't interrupt," "Get everyone to talk, not just the people who always dominate," or "Talk about your own feelings without blaming others."

At the end of this process, write the principles on a large piece of paper and place it on the wall so everyone can see them during the meeting.

Reminding people about good communication behaviors or the family code of conduct should always be the first topic on the agenda of a family meeting.