Man with hands in his ears while adult son hollers next to him. Koldunova_Anna/ThinkstockPhotos

This is why emotion trumps logic in farm decision-making

Emotional issues can ruin a good business plan on your farm.

Mike wants to move part of the farm production from traditional row crow to a specialty crop. The plan looks promising and Mike has worked hard looking at all angles.

Mike was asked by his uncle and father to come up with a business plan and present it. Mike researched everything and created a business plan that included staffing and financing needs. But when it came time for Mike to present his recommendations, his uncle got up and left the room as soon as Mike started talking.

What just happened?

Mike’s uncle refused to even hear him out. When he got up and left the room the entire conversation died, along with the proposal.

Mike asked me how he could get his uncle on board with his recommendation. While we can never be certain, I believe the reaction had little to do with the logic of Mike’s proposal but rather other issues that are unresolved. Mike couldn’t move ahead because the logic of his presentation was being trumped by other, most likely emotional, issues.

How often on your farm do you wonder why people blow up, clam up, or in Mike’s case, walk away?

Butting heads

When Mike asked me how to get his uncle on board, I asked if things always went smooth between his father and uncle. Mike admitted that things haven’t gone smoothly between anyone on the farm, and lately even Mike and his dad had been butting heads. There wasn’t anything Mike could finger as the cause of conflict.

Conflict comes in many shapes and sizes from daily annoyances to fist fights in the farm yard (this actually happens). Unmanaged conflict tends to accumulate, with layer upon layer of conflict built up over time. Sometimes the farm and the family grind to a halt in conflict gridlock. That is where Mike is today.

Conflict occurs when people feel they cannot satisfy their needs due to the interference of others. This produces a host of emotions such as anger, fear and rejection. Our brains are wired to react to emotions much faster and stronger than logic.

This goes all the way back to the caveman fight or flight response and though they are rarely needed today, those reactions are still active.

There is a great maxim that fits here: “Deal with emotional issues before emotions become the issue.” Right now Mike doesn’t have a challenge against his logic as much as he has a challenge with the emotions surrounding a history of unmanaged and emotional conflict.

Mike is stuck and will not move the business forward until he is able to defuse the conflict. Since most conflict is rooted in the emotional part of our brains, Mike will have to deal with the emotions before his dad and uncle will be open to hearing his logical presentation.

Mike’s first goal is to create candid, open, and calm discussions around, not the specialty crop issue, but rather the root needs of both father and uncle. When the emotions are no longer the issue, logic will be heard.

Our next post will delve into various avenues Mike can take in managing his conflict.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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