For the most part, people prefer to have a life of peace, happiness and harmony. It sounds good to think that everyone is your friend. However, at some point, reality sets in and we realize that someone does not like us. You mave have figured this out when teams were picked on the playground or by who was invited to birthday parties.

As life goes on nearly every area of life includes some areas where differences could arise, whether that’s farming neighbors, church relationships, athletic competition, or workplace promotions. Some people will view those differences as just that and they are only differences of opinion, while for others, some differences will migrate to the enemy status.

There are several choices and questions that a person has when a difference arises. One choice is to remain firm whether you are right or wrong and not budge an inch. A second choice is to cave in and be a push over to avoid a conflict.

Another option is to do a self assessment and ask yourself some questions. Do you realize you’re wrong and change your decision to maintain a friendship? Do you know you’re wrong, but still not admit it because of pride? Do you stand your ground because you know you’re right and you have principles and standards?

Winston Churchill once said, "You have enemies? Good, that means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life." For me, in the estate planning world, which by nature has some tension, I realize I am sometimes in a unique position and I may not be liked by everyone, even though that may be my goal. My clients know that I like transparent conversations because that helps us get to solutions faster. They know I need a better understanding of what is actually going on, so they offer good information to me, which helps me make the best possible recommendation.

Sometimes I may need to make a suggestion that protects the farm and holds it together; other times I may suggest splitting things up. Sometimes they need to hear their farm is in trouble and cannot pay another family member a salary because there is too much being paid out for a farm this size. Sometimes people need to be aware of how adverse actions can paralyze a farm.

I don’t find joy in saying tough things or making recommendations that are tough to hear. To be honest, there are times it takes on ton of courage to say some things because I like people and I like people to like me, but am I really doing what is right for the family if I don’t tell them what they need to hear?  Sometimes people need to hear some advice that is true even though it may sound harsh.

When siblings are fighting or a farm is facing financial challenges or a couple is getting divorced or brothers are at odds or an in-law is creating problems, are these fun things to deal with? Not one bit. Not everyone is going to take recommendations and advice real well. In fact, the only advice that sounds good to some people is the advice that favors them. 

During the last 20 years I have heard a few times that a certain family member either didn’t like me or didn’t like what I said. I then have to analyze why they felt that way. Did I say something incorrectly? Did I say something that was true but hurt their feelings? For myself, I would prefer not to have enemies, but if I do and it’s because I stood up for something, then I’m OK with that. For me, if I have ememies because I stood up for my faith or families or farms, then so be it.

I have a question for you: Have you made someone your enemy because they said something that was right but it hurt you? Is your unwillingness to accept that truth hurting your faith, family or farm?

Standing up for something is sometimes hard. So is admitting when you are wrong. But both are the right thing to do.