In this holiday season, we've probably been spending a bit more time with family lately. And that makes me think about how farming is different than many other businesses – because many of us work each day in our operations with our family members.
At the Water Street Edge farm business seminar we held a couple weeks ago in Lincoln, Nebraska, one of the speakers asked the attendees to name some ways that family businesses are different from other businesses. One of the attendees said, "You spend the holidays with the people you work with."
It can be a great thing to work with family members – especially when communication is flowing well and trust is high. But if the opposite is true, there can be a huge gap between people who would otherwise be celebrating together joyfully.
The communication gap
Why is communication so hard to do well? That's a question I asked the Water Street Edge attendees in Lincoln, Nebraska to consider during my session on communication skills. Communication is something that seems like it should be so easy – but it usually isn't.
In farm workplaces and within farm families, poor communication really does seem to create issues, doesn't it? I believe it's the number one problem – not just in families or on farms – but in our country today.
Here's something that can create a lot of miscommunication and misinterpretation: I know what I said, but I don't know what you heard. Each person interprets what someone else says through their own filters and perceptions.
But it's also true that we can't change how someone else communicates, we can only change how we communicate. So I've found that it's important to continually build and refine my own communication skills, and I enjoy sharing what I've learned with others – especially with farm families.
Building new skills
When we choose to develop and improve our own communication skills, we see the benefits and results in all of our relationships, both at work on our farms and in our personal lives – in those family relationships that mean so much. During my session at Water Street Edge, I'm sharing four key communication skills that attendees can use in everyday interactions with others on their farm and in their families.
Done poorly, communication can create a lot of issues for a family or a business. But the upside of good communication is pretty much endless. The sky's the limit. There's a lot of joy, good memories and good times around the holidays that can come as a result of healthy communication – and it's all a result of the skills you build.
There are still three opportunities to attend a Water Street Edge seminar yet this winter: East Peoria, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; or Willmar, Minnesota. Learn more and build skills on topics like managing employees, navigating global economic uncertainty and communication skills – sign up for a seminar near you.