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How To Stop Your Spouse From “Splaining” How To Run Your Business

Avoid the power struggle that can create serious problems for your business.

Dear LiisBeth,

I can’t take it anymore! My spouse, who has no formal role in my business since it was founded before we met, will often show up to my work and talk to staff, specifically my VP of operations, about how to run the company and he’ll commiserate with his concerns. Then, he’ll “mansplain” to me about how I should handle it. How can I get it to stop?

Smouldering Volcano

Dear SV,

Sadly, you are not alone. We know it happens a lot. And it’s super frustrating! The kicker is that he likely means well and thinks he is actually helping. But his actions create serious problems for you, your relationships with your direct reports, and the power balance among staff. If you don’t nip it in the bud, your staff will start to think that they need to talk to your spouse, not directly to you, if they want to be heard.

Tell him to stop. Then set clear boundaries. Let your spouse know that while you appreciate his interest in learning about your business, he is effectively undermining your leadership, which is not good for business—or your relationship.

Also, tell your spouse to limit his conversations with staff to pleasantries like the weather when he’s at the office or at a social gathering. In no way should he engage in discussions related to decisions on how to run your company. If someone tries to engage him in that way, he should politely respond, “I think you should talk to Jane about that,” and move on.

If he still doesn’t stop, bar him from company events or visits to the office. The damage created by his behaviour can seriously affect your company’s performance, and hence your ability to create value or even draw a salary.


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