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Harvest is a favourite time of year. As a combine driver I join the excitement of bringing in the crop as efficiently as possible. I enjoy long hours of solitude on the field, with lots of time to ponder what’s happening  in our family and life in general. This is the picture when the crops are evenly ripe, dry, and the weather is cooperating. There are also the loud “thunks” when the header plugs, or the frustration of catching a clump of mud, but usually things get back into flow.

Plugging the combine is a great metaphor for resistance. You can’t push too much too fast through the powerful machine. Farm people are going through tremendous changes again this year with new challenges, and we get frustrated when our family doesn’t want what we want.

Why don’t you want what I want?” is the title of Rick Maurer’s practical book on working through 3 levels of resistance: Level 1  “I don’t get it.”  Level 2: “I don’t like it” and Level 3: “I don’t trust you.”   Maurer believes we can muster support for our ideas without hard sell, manipulation or power plays. He encourages readers to stay engaged with the person…seek understanding, favourable reactions, and develop trust.

I’ve experienced resistance to change in farm families when I’ve tried to present too many ideas for change too quickly. Things plug up fast when people aren’t given time to see the same picture we see. “When people are afraid they will lose something important, when their fear response kicks in…their emotional brain takes over and limits their ability to stay engaged with us.” (Maurer).

Smooth combine operators make sure they feed the machine with a good consistent speed, checking the monitors. We need to check our understanding with our families, planting seeds of change gradually, and paying attention to emotional monitors.

Beeping in the cab alerts us to problems. What alerts us in our conversations that we are really getting it, and listening to the other person’s viewpoints?

Do they understand?

Are they reacting negatively or positively?

Is there sufficient trust between us for them to support us?

Maurer suggests 6 principles of engagement to help move through resistance:

1.Know your intention: Focus on issues instead of positions. The key  intention of combining is to put all the grain in the tank, and not leave a trail of grain on the ground! The issue is trusting the guy who sets the sieves, and checking the tank and the trail behind you.  If you are intending to make changes in your farm family, have you developed the trust you need for support?

2.Consider the context.  The focus of getting the crop off sets the context , other things are lower priority. Time your conversations well, consider where they are taking place, and the quality of the relationship. People in harvest are focused on that priority. Maybe you’ve been trying to make changes with people who are just too tired to think or change!

3.Avoid Knee Jerk Reactions.  Slamming the hydrostatic lever can put your face in the windshield of your combine. You need to know your triggers or “hot buttons” in conversations and avoid them. Your goal is to seek understanding and build commitment.

4.Pay Attention.  When a cutting knife breaks, you get a trail of heads standing…evidence that you need to stop and change the broken part.  Do you listen to others to be changed? Do you care about what the other person has to say?  Make time for feedback. Listen. Be willing to be influenced by what you hear.

5. Explore Deeply. Messing around with the concaves is exploring deeply into the guts of the combine. You hope you don’t have to do this in the field, but it happens. People are afraid of the unknown,  that is why farmers resist talking about a different way of working or living off the farm. Families need to find a safe way to talk and explore possibilities for common ground.  Maurer says you know when you have explored enough when the person shifts from “you to us”, and it feels like a weight has just lifted.

“Have I answered all of your questions?” “Is there anything I can provide for you ?”

6.Find Ways to Connect.  When my trucker comments that I am cutting too high, I make adjustments, and don’t steam with the criticism. The real concern is to do a great job, and not leave too much straw for the cultivation guy to handle. Maurer’s process for people to connect is to identify the real fear or concern. State what is important to you.

Then, turn that statement of concern into a statement of what you both want.

A farm spouse may say “ I am afraid that we are not making decisions about our life off the farm yard, and that is impacting our children’s decisions. It is important to me that we have a plan for our new home, and the way we will continue to work . We both want to stay involved, and find a way to live in harmony with our working children.”

As a Farm Family Coach ™ I am deeply committed to helping farm families work through the hard issues and choices that face them. Check out Maurer’s website at www.beyondresistance.com.     Have a great harvest!

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
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Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
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Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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