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Sitting on my stool in front of the third farm audience of the week, I should not be surprised to receive the same question for the third time by text: “Elaine, how do we stop the conflict on our farm? “

Don’t stop conflict. Change your mindset about fighting. Fight differently.

Conflict that is resolved is a beautiful thing. When farm families get clarity of expectations, certainty of agreements, and timelines, and they make decisions that get things done.

Conflict that is continually avoided by slamming doors, yelling, and then running to the shop or barn is not helpful.

What will set your next family meeting to a more helpful zone is to dissect the conversation into intent, action, and effect.

[Tweet “Conflict and constant fights are just distractions! Start adjusting your view and learn the 3 keys to manage conflict as part of your daily farm life.#farmbusiness #conflict #farms”]

Intent

Your intent is hidden deep inside your overworked brain. Love does not read minds. You need to write out your thoughts on paper to give yourself a working script to explain your “why” to the farm team. Why are you so afraid to tell others, especially family, what you are honestly thinking, feeling, needing, and wanting?

Is it because you have hit a wall of frustration, and you are deciding to move on, thinking about moving away from the farm because you are sick and tired of things that sabotage the certainty for your future?  “Either things start moving in our direction, or we are moving away from this hotbed of frustration !”

Action

Do actions really speak louder than words? Perhaps you are making wrong assumptions regarding your dad’s silence on transition issues. He could be paralyzed by the fear of “not doing it right the first time,” so he chooses to just do farm work rather than work “on” the farm business.

My new hashtag for agriculture is #healingstories4ag. It’s time to grab the bull by the horns to create a healthy, transparent forum for fierce yet courageous conversations. If the thought of this sends your heart racing, settle down. Write out what you truly want for your family, your farm business, and your land ownership and wealth. These are the three circles of decision making to help you sort through all the thoughts and angst clogging up your tired brain.

Effect

Our words and actions can cause hurt or harm. Hurt erupts when someone is unintentional towards hurting us. They won’t have a clue about the pain unless we share the effect they have had on us.

Harm is a different animal.  Harm is toxic as it is the result of someone intentionally wanting us to suffer. These are the sad stories in agriculture that need to stop now.

When you witness anger on your farm, ask the angry person if they are hurt, afraid, or frustrated. Displaying yelling, crying, or walking away is a secondary emotion likely due to fear of the uncertainty of the future.

So how do you decrease the anxiety over the uncertainty of your future?

  1. Talk with yourself first. Figure out very clearly what a good day on the farm looks like to you in 2020, 2021, and 2022—one year at a time. You may have heard that at the end of 2021, I will be spending more time playing with grandchildren and less time facilitating private farm family meetings with my beloved Beanie Baby bull and flipchart. What do you want for yourself, your marriage, your family, your workplace, and your friendships?
  2. Visit a quiet place that gives you and your spouse joy and energy. Talk about what you see in your future vision for your family and your farm. Figure out the pinch points where you strongly disagree on the vision and work towards a picture that you can both happily live with.

Many families are stuck because the founders have conflicting visions. No plan will be executed until Mom and Dad can create solutions to appreciate different perspectives. Remember, “different is not wrong; it is just different.” I’d like to spend a month on Vancouver Island visiting siblings and friends, but my spouse thinks two weeks might be long enough. We’ll keep negotiating!

  1. Talk to each of your adult children privately, along with their partners or spouses. I see couples as a unit. You create respect and trust when each family unit hears your vision and dreams at the same time. There is nothing lost in translation when you have transparent, respectful conversations, listening intently to all of the voices at the table. A farm widow wept when she realized that keeping her daughters-in-law away from the decision-making table likely had caused more mistrust and showed huge disrespect.
  2. Set a date for a 3-hour family meeting, which includes the farm and non-farm members. Starting the conversation is the hardest part, but once you start the ball rolling, you’ll have the joy of taking the next action step. A family who tried this meeting on their own was disappointed that it “went off the rails” quickly. Why are you afraid to invest a couple of seed canola bags worth ($1400 or so ) on a facilitated family meeting? My farmer says, “You get what you pay for!”

It’s time for family fighting to become conflict resolution as a business risk management strategy. Visit www.cafanet.com

  1. Do what you promised you would do. Walk the talk, and get your business plan going, the communication plan, your lifestyle plan, and update your estate plan. Then you can tweak your contingency plan and talk about your future employment strategy for working on the farm as the “hired person or part-time employee.

Call your lawyer to update your will. Seek out a financial planner to make sure you have enough income stream until you’re 102. Share decision making with your successor and ask them how they would like you to mentor or teach them the skills they need.

  1. Celebrate your new mindset in 2020. We all have 20/20 vision for the past, but yesterday is past, and tomorrow is a promise, we just have today, the present.

Strong families celebrate. Be strong!

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

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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+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

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