Just converse: it feels so good to talk! - 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


Just converse: it feels so good to talk!

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Communication, Farm Family, Farm Family Coaching, Grainews Articles

Being able to talk freely with your farm team and feel they understand what you need is a huge gift! Accept you can’t make other people change, but you can change how you respond and handle things.

Talking is the work.

Decide today that you are going to become more self-aware and self-controlled around the way you communicate with your farm team. I strongly believe that good communication is the foundation of successful farms. Talking and listening well is the ultimate risk management tool.

Your communication toolbox:

  • Accept that solving problems is up to you. Take responsibility for your level of skill in sharing your ideas, thoughts, and feelings in the culture of your farm workplace. Take charge and act. You’ll get nowhere if you expect the communication problems to fix themselves. Begin with the end in mind, what do you truly want to accomplish in your conversation?
  • Know your communication style. You might be action-oriented, very direct, and brief. You might like to think things through and process the ideas before giving a quick answer. People and relationships may be your focus of discussion before you attack the problem-solving agenda if your style is more relationship-based. Then again, you might be a “dreamer” idea style who likes to innovate with a discussion about the big picture of your farm, and you need time for folks to listen to your tangents, without judgment. Email me at elaine@elainefroese.com with “communication styles” in the subject line for a free 20-minute assessment.
  • Accept that different is not wrong, it is just different. Ask for what you need to have a better understanding and talk it out. “I need you to look me in the eye when we are talking so that I am sure that you get my message.  Observe the eyes which are called “the window of the soul”. The mouth, eyebrows, and forehead are especially revealing of emotional state.
  • Curtail cell phone interruptions: “I need 15 minutes of un-interrupted time to get this settled, so please put your cell phone away! “

Have a cell phone basket at the door for everyone to drop their phones, and come to the table for a “real-time” conversation with no interruption.

Be open to learning what the other person’s communication style is so that you can make room for their style. If verbose talkers are driving you crazy, ask for a timeline for the conversation and put some boundaries around it.  “We have 15 minutes for this item, and then we need to make a decision.” Some folks use pennies, where they have 3 pennies on the table and submit one each time they talk. When the pennies have been spent, they are to listen!  I use a talking stick like a soft toy passed around to be held by the speaker. When that person is finished sharing their thoughts, then the talking stick is passed to the next speaker. Talking sticks stop interruptive behaviour.

Be aware of your communication hot buttons. I have trouble with the “strong silent types” who say “I don’t know “when I ask them a question.  Farm coaches are wired to ask tough questions which can cause discomfort, but the outcome of knowing what everyone is thinking, feeling, and wanting is a HUGE benefit to courageous conversations.

Think about what makes you defensive or angry when you are communicating with your farm team. You have the power to change your response. A good response might be, “What would you like me to do differently?” Just practice that one line for the next week and see what happens. Folks may be shocked at first that you are willing to change. This is not a manipulation game. This is creating new habits that help you reach a better understanding.

How do you know when you are getting better at talking through problems?

Ask, “If this problem didn’t exist or was solved, what would I/we be doing or saying to each other?” 

Have a vision of what you want your farm workplace culture to look like and decide what steps you can take to make it happen:

  • Instead of offering your opinion, invite questions that invite the other person to explain the reasons behind their position.
  • If you don’t understand, admit it, stay calm, and ask for a further explanation “Tell me more…”
  • Acknowledge the other’s position without agreeing with it by saying “That’s an interesting perspective.”
  • Let the other person explain their “why” without interrupting.
  • Ask “What if? “use powerful questions about future considerations or contingency.

What needs to shift for better communication at your farm?

It might take a set of fresh eyes and ears in the form of a facilitator to shine a light on the trouble spots that need a better tool for better talking and listening.

Start by simply speaking kindly with grace to each other. Treat your farm team as well as you behave with your closest friends. Share meals together, and make decisions on a well-fed stomach, not an empty one while you are “on the run.”

Small steps make a huge difference:

  1. Speak in a calm and respectful tone. Look each other in the eye.
  2. Ask permission if now is a good time to talk or when would work better.
  3. Paraphrase what you heard the other person say to check that you got the correct intention of the message. (Texting doesn’t have this dimension of tone of voice, which is why texting causes lots of communication breakdown and conflict!)
  4. Make requests. Request that items that are hot issues be dealt with in a formalized meeting session, at a certain date and time, so that folks can process their responses and do research on the issue before the meeting.
  5. Ask better questions. What would you like me to do differently to communicate better? What assumptions am I making? What am I responsible for? What can I learn from this situation?


Elaine Froese is always learning better communication. Click here to reach out to her team today to discover how you can have more courageous conversations for farm transition.

Did you enjoy Just converse: it feels so good to talk? You might want to check these articles out too:

How to Embrace a Positive Perspective for Farm Transition
Insights and Advice for Farmers and Ranchers
Help! My farm parents don’t want to take responsibility for family conflict

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