Farm people transferring the farm business are going through tremendous challenges. We get frustrated when our family does not 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:
HEAD: “I do not get it,”
HEART: “I do not like it,”
GUT: “I do not trust you.”
Maurer believes we can muster support for our ideas without the hard sell, manipulation or power plays. Stay engaged with the person, seek understanding, favorable reactions, and develop trust.
I have experienced resistance when I have tried to present too many ideas for a change too quickly. Things plug up fast when people are not given time to see the same picture we see. Maurer says, “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.”
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?
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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. If you intend 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 offsets the context; other things are a lower priority. Time your conversations well, consider where they are taking place, and the quality of the relationship. Maybe you have 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. 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. 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 discuss and explore possibilities for common ground.
Maurer says you know you have explored enough when the person shifts from “you to us,” and it feels like a weight has just lifted.
Ask: “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. 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.”
Look to see if the resistance is coming from a misunderstanding, deep emotion, or a lack of trust. Is it your head, your heart, or your gut? Then talk about what you really want.
What would happen if you start using the phrase, “I think, I feel, I need, or I want,” to explain your intent? Try it!