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How Profanity is Hurting Your Employee's and Your Farm

A young farmer sits nervously on the couch with his partner and tells me that he can’t take working with his dad anymore. He describes the “Boss” walking quickly across the yard, arms waving, with his voice increasing in volume and swearing the “F-bomb” at the young son. The profanity, he tells me, is common on the farm.

Does the son swear back at the father? Yes, it’s the pattern he’s learned well over years of turning wrenches and turning off his listening to the tirades. He is not so sure he wants to be part of the legacy, and he may soon leave, forever.

What I have just described is killing farm businesses, and I don’t see a lot of press about it. Profane language, which attacks the person without working at the problem, is costing you money.

How Profanity is Hurting Your Farm:

  1. Your approach is shutting down effective communication, and therefore, you are wasting time dealing with anger instead of acting on the tasks at hand. You are suffering from the effects of distracted management energy, and that costs you in efficiency and wrecked equipment driven by angry employees.
  2. Your wealth going forward depends on an income stream from a profitable farm pumping out great cash flow and a lack of labour shortage issues. Swearing drives people into despair and creates fuel for their exit from the business. “Why do I work with this guy? Life is too short to be in a miserable workplace!”
  3. A tour of Dawson Creek and other busy oil or gas work camps will show you that the next generation has other career options besides the family farm. If your adult children decide to come back to the farm, they understand different management styles from their former employers, and they expect respect.
  4. Being a labour magnet is a sweet position to be in when folks knock at your door looking for work because of your healthy workplace reputation. On our farm swearing and streams of profanity is not acceptable. We’ve had employees mention that this was why they wanted to work with us.
  5. As the mouth speaks, so is the heart. I listen carefully to what words are really reflecting as to the emotional condition of the farm folks I coach. A father who is swearing in frustration over a different work ethic in the next generation needs to evaluate why he is so stressed out, and de-stress before addressing the conflict in a calm, respectful, adult manner.

What is the cost of losing a successor who has been berated with bad language for far too long? I don’t know if you can put a dollar figure on family break-up and loss of a relationship and working partners. It is huge.

[Tweet “#Profanity is not only ugly, but it is hurting your #farm. Here’s how:”]

I am also concerned about the angst of farm women who are over 60. They no longer want to be the “pig in the middle” soothing the emotional wounds of their spouses in conflict with their children. The profanity directed towards them is unacceptable, and wears down their senses of self-worth. Some women I meet are telling me they are tired of being the family social worker, and ready to find a new life beyond the farm gate, whether or not their husband chooses to come with them.clean up your language or “potty mouth”?

So, how can you clean up your bad language or “potty mouth”?

Check what comes out of your mouth after you engage your brain. There are long term consequences for treating people badly on your farm team. You always get to choose your thoughts, beliefs, habits, and actions. You are responsible for your behaviour and your responses to others.

In conflict resolution, we encourage folks to be responsive, not reactive. This means asking questions like:

“What would you like me to do differently?”

“Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it now or later?”

“Have I done something to offend you? I did not intend to be late. Let me explain.”

“May I make a request?  Let’s get some coffee and food, and talk about this sitting down.”

“Are you sure those are the facts? I don’t want to gossip. If you have a problem with her, you need to talk to her directly. You can work it out.”

why profanity hurts

How about a fresh start in cleaning out your mouth this year, so that the words you speak actually direct, teach, and affirm those around you, rather than adding fuel to the conflict’s already hot fire?

By the way, I had my first audience member swear at me  last fall in ranch country when I mentioned that “divorce on the farm does not have to happen” and he responded with “what @%@%@ planet are you from?”  I was surprised and saddened when I saw the expression of his daughter in law who was sitting right next to the profane man.

I don’t like to be the recipient of foul language, and I suspect you do not either.

Choose your words carefully and reap the benefits of showing more respect on your farm this year.

Share with us in the comments below how you deal with profanity on your farm and what impact that has.

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
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
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
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
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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