Whether you run the family business together, have clued in a cousin about a great job opportunity or spent an ill-fated summer running a babysitter’s club with your sister, a lot of us have worked with a family member at one point or another. My sister and I are no different. We admire each other and each other’s work. We are both writers with communications experience, so when people in our field ask if we know someone who can lend a hand, we always do.
Working with family can make for some funny personal vs. professional situations. Here are some of the things I’ve learned working with my sister.
You may say “I love you” when signing off a call that has otherwise been 100 percent business talk.
As you say things like, “I can get you that by 3 p.m.” or, “I read it and I have a few edits,” the woman beside you in the coffee shop’s eyes glaze over as your voice is one of many in the work from home/café hum. However, when you sign off your call, with an “I love you too,” you can get some funny looks.
You mix up your personal and professional email accounts a lot
When you send too many puppy pics, you’re sister/boss has no problem telling you to cut the crap and switch onto your other email … until she finds a hilarious video too.
You can separate what you need from them with family things and work things.
When you’re late sending in a spreadsheet, your aunt/boss can still be thankful you brought a side dish to Sunday dinner.
You just know they will get the work done
Not to sound sinister, but you know where they live. You know that you can bug them at all hours about it.
You have to set limits on your business hours
Business calls at 9 p.m. aren’t welcome with co-workers you don’t share DNA with, the same rules apply with family.
People may not realize you are related, especially when you have different last names
When fellow co-workers/clients do figure it out you two are related, they usually like to be in on the family fun. My sister and I shared a co-worker that chalked up our similar appearances and voices to us being from the same city. When my sister told him we were related, you could see the light bulb illuminate above his head, “Oh, I thought everyone from New Orleans talked like that.” Nope, we really are sisters.
There is an office you and a family you, and they don’t really intersect.
Everyone has a work self and a personal self — and probably a few other selves. Working with family can be a way to get to know people better that you didn’t think you could possibly know any better, and bond in a new, non-family situation.
[Image courtesy Warner Bros.]