What if I showed you a free tool that you could implement today that would have the potential to make your farm 21% more profitable, without spending a dime ?
What is it?
It’s listening. After you have asked “What’s the most important thing to talk about?”
continue to listen, and use more open-ended questions.
Open ended questions that don’t require a simple yes or no answer will start the tsunami of ideas flowing your way. If your son is an “idea” style communicator, he needs lots of uninterrupted time to explain his great production idea to you, and talk about the potential to diversify your farm operation. Don’t interrupt. Let him go on all the tangents he needs to and look him in the eye. Nod in affirmation that you are truly listening, and try not to cross your arms in disgust or with impatience. Do you actually remember what it felt like to have dreams, be invincible, and feel like nothing could stop you ?
Listen to your inner thoughts. Some folks have not showed up to listen to themselves for a very long time. I am always amazed at the number of phone calls I get during combining season, when butts are parked on the seats for 13 hour long harvest days, and there is lots of time to listen to self.
I am convinced that great listening in a farm family and business team creates a haven to work in a healthy way, and reduces stress. When I happen to have a time of tears my hubby will ask “ Is this about me?” and he listens very carefully to my answer.
“No.” Then he lets me have a good cry, because he knows that crying for me is a good outlet for pent-up emotion, and tears can be healing. He asks directly, and then listens. I don’t cry often, but I appreciate that someone is listening to my feelings.
I also listen to the conversations my hubby has on the cell phone to see the tone of the day, and some of the stresses that he is dealing with. His chats with other farmers are very telling to me, and all I have to do is pay attention with my ears.
I am not encouraging eavesdropping on private phone conversations, but I do think that being very intentional about the conversations you hear around you, and reserving judgment will help you resolve conflict in your family.
Listening to both sides of the story, coming with a sense of curiosity, and checking to make sure that you heard the message correctly are all great conflict resolution skills. Gossip is not a great listening skill. It kills families when the gossip triangle is fed by many listeners only happy to sit and seethe with “new” information which colours their thinking of other farm team members. Cut the gossip . Go directly to the source , that is the person who has offended you, and deal directly with the issue at hand. “Be soft on the person and hard on the problem”. Treat their conversation with respect as you listen without interruption, and give them your ear and attention.
I truly hope that your will work hard to make your farm team more profitable by working on being a better listener.
We all goof up and make mistakes in communication, but hopefully we can laugh about it later, and not cringe at the thought of having to be together.
When Wes asked me to meet him at the barn , I quickly drove for 15 minutes to pick him up. The trouble was he was at the “old” barn, not the pig barn, and I “should have known” had I been listening earlier to the plan for the day to be at Henry’s field.
No worries. I just got there a few minutes later, but you can be sure I was better that spring at double-checking what message I had just heard.
Bless those women in your life who have “mommy ears” and can hear the amazing things their children are up to. Choose to honour your family members with your rapt attention as they share themselves verbally with you. Be patient with the silent ones who have not yet found enough trust to know that you are actually listening and validating their feelings.
Sign up for a listening workshop, or search the internet on “how to be a better listener.” Then act !