How to Embrace a Positive Perspective for Farm Transition - Elaine Froese | Canada’s Farm Whisperer | Your go-to expert for farm families who want better communication and conflict resolution to secure a successful farm transition

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How to Embrace a Positive Perspective for Farm Transition

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Communication, Farm Family, Farm Family Coaching, Grainews Articles

Imagine this is the day you’re hopping out of bed with a new spring in your step as you anticipate the life-changing transaction taking place this afternoon. You, your spouse, and your folks are headed to the lawyer’s office to officially sign shareholder agreements. You’re excited to finally have some certainty for your future. How are your parents feeling?

The ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes is called “perspective taking”. This skill is a key proactive conflict resolution behaviour. It’s a place where you don’t make assumptions, you learn to ask deeper questions to seek to understand the other person’s perspective, interests, and concerns. You want to understand the other person’s point of view.

For some young farmers waiting longer than expected to get some equity in the farm business, taking time to understand the other person’s point of view could be frustrating. It is necessary.

Imagine what the other person is trying to accomplish. Older farmers have heirs to the farm business, and non-farm heirs to consider. They also are dealing with latent health issues, communication strains in the family dynamic, and possible limiting beliefs. As the leaders of the farm, spouses may be in friction due to conflicting visions of the next chapter of their lives. There is a lot going on when you start to unravel all the challenges.

I have a tool called the “key challenge audit.” Click here to download have each person in your family fill this out, and then you’ll know what the important first conversations need to be.

Why bother trying to seek the other person’s point of view?

Once you can uncover the reasons why your folks are thinking in a certain direction, then you’ll have clues to continue increasing your knowledge base and ask better questions.

What is their desire for income streams for family living? Do they need to purchase new housing? What does fairness look like to you?

What is Dad’s desire for his new role as you take on more management? What roles are going to change for Mom? What does she want to continue to do, and what does she want to stop doing? Is there a conflict between what mom wants and what dad wants to do with his time?

Making the other person feel you are taking their concerns seriously results in the other person feeling understood. This is a great breakthrough position for families who are longing for clarity of expectations and certainty of timelines for transition agreements.

What steps can you take to be more open-minded and curious?

Can you imagine how it feels for the founder to consider transferring wealth and decision-making to the next generation when there is fear of failure or fear of loss of wealth?

You are wise to share your intention not to cause hurt in the conversations, yet the bigger picture is framing the “HOW” you will create solutions together for the good of all.

Consider the following “Outcome Frame Questionnaire” from Shelle Rose Charvet, NLP Author of “Words that Change Minds.” (NLP stands for neurolinguistic programming)

Differences between Blame Frame and Outcome Frame:

Problem to Objective (vision, business plan, desire to communicate).

Why to How ( Can we seek an understanding of how we want to grow the farm?).

Limits to Possibilities (With positivity, let’s create solutions and make no assumptions).

Failure to Feedback (This ongoing conversation is for the success of all, so keep evaluating).

Prejudice to Curiosity (Let’s ask deeper questions with genuine curiosity and no judgement).

No Movement to Movement (Let’s keep taking the next step as action creates more action).

Here are some helpful phrases as you are practicing your sharing perspective.

“I’ve been thinking…”

“It is not my intent to cause hurt or more frustration, I am wondering how you would like to proceed on this transition journey. What’s helpful for you to understand?”

“What do you think are some limiting beliefs we are hanging on to?”

“We learn from our mistakes, so failure is not a bad thing. Can I give you some feedback on where I see we might be stuck?”

“I’m just curious, what are you having a hard time understanding or letting go of?”

“Tell me more…”

Remember your perspective-taking skill has a lot to do with your mindset. Follow these tips:

  • Be curious as you are committed to the discovery and transition process.
  • Recognize your impact on the culture of your farm: What you believe, how you behave, and how you make decisions.
  • Choose your response carefully. We all get to make choices with our approach to others, our intent, and the options we create.
  • Build a team of trusted advisors and seek out new support with free discovery calls.
  • Create an abundance mindset that enhances a fair exchange of value for great advice and good processes.
  • Be proactive, not reactive (I feel like throwing in the towel today!!)

Mindset tips for young farmers:

  • Know the numbers, income, debt loads, and fair compensation.
  • This is a journey, not an event: have perseverance, patience, positivity, and be outcome-focused.
  • Block time for the process, be the driver for your equity goals.
  • Challenge advisors and make sure there is accountability to keep to timelines.
  • Protect working capital and have good debt.

You are responsible for making choices for your own life. Accept that solving problems is up to you. Take responsibility for improving the level of skill in sharing your ideas, thoughts, and feelings in the culture of your farm business. Take charge and act. You’ll get nowhere if you continue to guess what the founders want.  Don’t expect the communication problems to fix themselves.

Let’s work on walking a mile in the shoes of others on our farm team. A perspective shift can get you to that lawyer’s office sooner than you believe possible.

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Elaine Froese and her coaching team create possibilities for farm transition while decreasing assumptions. Visit here to find out more about affordable group coaching for your farm family to get traction for your transition.

Did you enjoy How to Embrace a Positive Perspective for Farm Transition? You might want to check these articles out too:

Insights and Advice for Farmers and Ranchers
Help! My farm parents don’t want to take responsibility for family conflict
How to get those tough and tender conversations started in 2024?

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