In Vietnam, we have a very famous proverb: brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet. Anyone who has a brother or sister will instinctively understand this.
Our siblings loom large in our lives no matter how often, or how little we see them. They not only share much of our DNA, but they are also the only people who truly understand what it was like to be brought up in the same way that we were.
This magnified for my sister Bích and I because we run a family-owned business together. We operate in each other’s personal lives and work lives in ways that few other siblings do.
I, therefore, think my father was very far-sighted when he called in family coaches shortly after my sister and I joined THP after university. He realised that the only way we could survive and thrive as a family and as a business was by deepening our understanding of family dynamics and developing positive ways to interact with each other.
I always highlight the importance of training in many of my blog posts. The one-and-a-half year family program that Bích and I undertook with our parents is arguably the most valuable training that we have ever done.
It was incredibly tough but equally worthwhile.
Firstly, we had to learn how to break down some of our childhood barriers. There is a well-known tendency for siblings to revert to childhood behaviours and pecking orders when they are with each other.
I am older than Bích, so in Vietnamese, that makes me chị (elder sister) and Bích em (younger sister). As a nation we like to understand where someone resides in any particular hierarchy.
But at work, my sister and I operate on the basis of equality so we learned how to create some professional boundaries. In our professional lives, she is Miss Bích and I am Miss Phuong.
Similarly, we have erased any lingering prejudices from our childhoods about what each of us is capable of, or what makes us who we are. Through our training, we learned to listen to the other fully and support each other, rather than feel competitive or sit there readying a retort.
As I said in my previous blog post about the art of listening, the key is to listen with a view to understanding rather responding. It makes us better people and better colleagues.
Today Bích and I share a tighter bond than ever. It is one that is reinforced by good communication.
As part of our family coaching, we were also taught how to define our inner selves so we had a good basis to interact with each other. What I learned about Bích is that for her the concept of organization has huge meaning, in the same way that country does for others like Ho Chi Minh.
Thus it was not surprising that Bích was the one who told my father that he had to consider the employees and their families when he was struggling emotionally following our mother’s stroke. Bích is in her element overseeing THP’s training and HR activities. She is a natural at it.
This April 10th is World Sibling Day and it makes me very proud to take this opportunity to celebrate my sister, just as I did during Vietnam’s lockdown when I created a special video to highlight her devotion, duty and dedication to THP at such a challenging time. Bích and I are warriors for THP and for each other.