Telling Your Story

Pump Up Listening Skills for the Holidays

Use family dinner conversations to communicate shared values

Most of us will attend family dinners over the next few weeks with extended family.  As you know, food and farming are popular topics among pretty much everyone right now. 

Do you believe that all of your family and friends understand what you do on your farm?  Do they understand the importance of where your farm fits into the food supply? 

My challenge to you is to consider how you will react if an uncomfortable comment comes up about where food comes from.  Are you willing to add something that you know about farming or ranching into the conversation that might leave the speaker with a more positive image of where their food comes from? 

If you hear a negative comment towards agriculture, try to really hear what the bottom-line concern is.  For most of us, this is really difficult. We just want to jump in and tell others why they are wrong. The problem with jumping is that sometimes we completely miss their point, and leave the other person with an even worse impression than they originally had. 

Perhaps a better approach is to be proactive by sharing something that you are doing on your farm that you would like others to know about. For example, share how you use automatic row shut offs and section controls to reduce inputs costs and overlap.  For your technology-loving nephew or niece, show them your yield monitor, and explain why you use it. You don't have to go deep into these topics, just give them a snippet of why these things are important in your farm. 

If these conversations are difficult among the people who should love us the most, how much more difficult are they with people who don't care who we are or already have a bond with us?

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