The winter is cruising by and you are wondering if you are ever going to get a communication breakthrough to figure out “the Plan” for the future of your family and your farm. You might be the aging founder, the frustrated successor, or the curious non-farm sibling. Whatever role you play, this scenario is impacting all of you.

Last month I presented “How to Get Parents to Talk” as a “Virtual Kitchen table” online presentation, but few of you came. Disappointing. Another confirmation that discussing the Undisscusabull™ is not comfortable so you procrastinate and avoid conflict.

From my experience here are the key things farmers want:

  • To have their hard work appreciated
  • To be respected and heard
  • To keep their land base intact and growing
  • To have a profitable business
  • To have harmony with the siblings, including non-farm heirs

That list is achievable but you have to be intentional in your behavior and your decision-making. You need to pay attention to the glue that is holding your farm and your family together, the farm’s culture.

  1. What do you believe to be true?
  2. How are you behaving?
  3. How effective are you in communication so you can make collaborative decisions?

Ouch. Take a few minutes for some self-reflection here.

Why are folks shut down?

  1. Fear. They are scared for many reasons. Perhaps their last good idea was not even considered and was blown off without any real conversation or opportunity to explore creative solutions.
  2. The emotional tank is empty. The negativity and poor behavior, in some cases toxic, is dragging everyone’s emotional bank account into the red. They feel unappreciated, disrespected, and only good for hard labor. Yikes.
  3. Overwhelmed. Succession planning is the transfer of labor, management, and wealth. It can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be hard. What is the story you are telling yourself? You’re a farmer! You’ve taken many years of risk and you’ve managed a lot of storms. You have been resilient in the past! Check out why you are anxious and overwhelmed. Do you have a low-grade depression enhanced by all of the stress of “The Great PAUSE” or the cattle markets?
    Do not ignore your physical and mental health. Get checked out!
  4. Embarrassed. Many aging farmers still are carrying high debt loads. Their balance sheets are out of whack and that was not the plan. The lack of financial transparency between generation one and generation two stops now. You need data to understand the current reality of the farm, and the more eyes and brains processing that information the better. You also need to have great trusted advisors that can help you interpret the benchmarks. My heart goes out especially to the beef producers who are struggling with low-profit margins and continued setbacks.
  5. Avoiding fights. Where is it written that conflict is bad? Unresolved conflict is not good, but conflict resolution is a great business risk management strategy. When you get really good at conflict you are unstoppable. I suspect the real fear here is the fear around managing the inheritance expectations of your heirs. It’s the FAIRNESS issue. Hop over to “Elaine Froese Farm Family Coach on Youtube to watch “Finding Fairness in Farm Transition”. My definition of fairness is “helping everyone be successful.” Your farm is not a piece of pie to be quartered off! This is a hard reality as land prices incite greed and unrealistic expectations. In order to manage the generational expectations, you need to be able to talk about tough issues.

So how do you open the doors of communication?

Figure out first what it is that you truly want on all fronts, self, marriage, family, farm.

Write out your expectations and desires in a letter. Computers can help you delete, edit and craft what you truly intend to say, and give you a great script. You can deliver the letter and if you need tips read my blog article, “The Power of a Heartfelt Letter”.

Identify your top 5 values, I use a values cloud and you can get yours by asking for it here. IF parents value independence and wealth, they may be hanging on tight until death, where you might value the transfer of wealth with a warm hand, not a cold one. If you have not been able to talk about money and financial pressures, you need to start.

Share your intentions. “I am just curious if we could have a conversation about what a good day looks like to you on the farm Dad.” Dads fear being “pushed off the farm” when really you expect them to provide insight and labor well into their late sixties, but when you don’t communicate you can make up all kinds of stories in your head! Intent, action, the effect is basic conflict resolution. I cannot read your mind until you talk, share ideas, and show me your actions. Then I get to tell you what effect the message has on me.

Navigate resistance. No one likes to feel dumb. Advisors who use complex language can sometimes make you push back because in your head you do not understand intellectually what they are meaning. Head, heart, and gut are the places you need to check out with your farm team and advisor. Say “I don’t understand, can you tell me in a different way? If emotions are running high, ask for time to ponder and reflect, say “This doesn’t feel like a good idea to me, I don’t like it.” When you have been emotionally triggered things shut down quickly. If you get a sick feeling in your gut with what has been presented you are having a trust issue. Likely you are thinking “ I don’t think this idea is going to work.” Rick Mauer’s book “Why don’t you want what I want” is a great place to understand the 3 keys to resistance.

Elaine Froese, CAFA, CSP helps farm families find harmony through understanding. Book her to empower your group with her virtual events and zoom coaching. Act now!

Register for the upcoming Virtual Kitchen Table event at Arlan Academy and sign up for the Because I love U list. This month’s topic – Dealing with Entitled Siblings.

Did you enjoy “Shut down” Insights to get folks to the transition table to talk, you might want to check these articles out too:

How to pitch pride to get transition traction!
How to Get Unstuck in Your Farm Transition Plan
Farm Transition Planning: 19 Ways to Change Your Mindset

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.


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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