One of my favourite Irish sayings is “Every front door looks beautiful!” You never really know what is truly going on in someone’s life until you get to the kitchen table and develop a relationship. The skill to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is called “perspective taking”.

Recently during a family meeting as we passed around the talking stick (my beanie baby bull) a family member said, “You really don’t understand what it is like to be me do you?”

The talking stick is a tool I use to help folks share their perspectives without interruption. You may laugh and think it is silly, but I have a dairy farmer who grabs an empty plastic water bottle out in the barn when he calls a decision-making meeting on the fly.

When you can respond to conflict by trying to put yourself in the other person’s position and understand the other person’s point of view you will have many insights:

  • You may become aware of new information
  • You might have new ways to interpret information that you would never have perceived otherwise.
  • You will increase your knowledge base
  • You will make the other person feel you are taking their concerns seriously which results in the other person feeling understood. (Daughter in-laws would love this!)
  • You will often be seen as agreeable, open-minded and an effective farm team member.

How do you get better at making the other folks on your farm feel understood?

  1. Identify the weaknesses in your own position or approach. Prepare folks for meetings without interruption. Don’t try to have important conversations when you are intensely trying to get farm work done. Block time for a meeting in a quiet space. Approach the conversation with “I have some things I would like to get your input on. When can we sit down and figure this out? What time would work for you. I’ll need an hour.”
  2. Imagine how and why the other person came to hold their position. Farm dads are aging in place and may have some unspoken fears. They also carry stories about how things should be in their heads, and you may have to ask some powerful questions to pull their thoughts out into a conversation you can unravel. Are they afraid of failure? Do they have a scarcity mindset? Do they have very low emotional intelligence and are not aware of their poor listening skills?
  3. Imagine what the other person is trying to accomplish. Many farm dads and moms just want family harmony. Unfortunately, they have not taken responsibility for showing favoritism to one farming child while shutting other farm partners out. If the family is just trying to show the community how wonderful they are without doing the work of resolving inner family conflict, the pretense will not hold. Ask, “What is it you truly want? What are you trying to accomplish?” From my perspective, you are making assumptions about what I want because you have not listened to my want and needs, and you have not asked me what I want! “The ebb of flow of conversation needs to go both ways. It also helps to re-frame or re-cap what you thought who heard the other person saying and get them to confirm you caught it correctly.
  4. Imagine what the other person thinks you are trying to accomplish. “What do you really think about what I want? Are you perceiving me as selfish and entitled? Are you aware your inability to step back and give up the reins of control for this farm are keeping us stuck, and in turmoil? I just want to have some degree of control to make management decisions and ultimately to have a plan for our future equity as partners in this farm business. I want to accomplish a better way of communication in a more formalized setting with regular meetings. I don’t want the uncertainty of our future to continue. I want to celebrate being a family without your demands around how we all should be behaving. We are all adults here. We need to be accountable for our bad behaviour and choose to be curious about what other farm team members are wanting and needing.”

Give the other person your full and undivided attention when they are speaking. Do not turn your back or sit sideways. Observe the eyes and face, as the eyes are the “window to the soul”.

The mouth, eyebrows and forehead give you clues about emotional states.

Instead of offering your opinion quickly, dig deeper, asking questions that invite the other person to explain the reasons behind his or her position. Be curious. “I am just curious what you meant when you said…. tell me more!

If you don’t understand, admit it, and ask for further explanation.

Acknowledge the other’s position without agreeing with it by saying “That’s an interesting point of view” or “Many people have that same position.”

Never interrupt. Use the talking stick to hold the floor and pass it on with you are finished sharing your perspective.

As a Hudson Institute trained coach, I use the age and tasks map to help families understand the various perspectives of different decades.

  • In your 20’s you need to become independent and experience the management styles of other farms.
  • In your 30’s you need to master success and navigate your exhaustion raising your family.
  • In your 40’s you need to own equity to have power and control over your destiny on the farm.
  • In your 50s you need to simplify your life to pay attention to the quality of your life.
  • In your 60’s you start over again as the “helping labour” and work on new roles, shifting management to the next generation. Pay attention to health issues.
  • In your 70’s you focus on mentorship and stepping back without stepping away.
  • In your 80’s you have done wealth transfer and earn respect as a wise elder.
  • In your 90’s you appreciate your legacy and enjoy seeing your impact and influence because you let go decades ago.

Work on walking through the front door of your conflict and seek to understand the other person’s perspective. Sign-up for our in-law event here.


Elaine Froese and her team of coaches are here to serve your farm family. Reach out at Invite Elaine to speak in the fall at your event.

Did you enjoy The Power of Perspective? You might want to check these articles out too:

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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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