Decision making in times of change and stress can be challenging for many individuals due to heightened emotions, uncertainty, ambivalence, loss of value or identity, and/or adaptability. In a time of constant change, farmers are faced with many challenging decisions. Service-providers provide technical support to their farm clientele, and yet, they may be uncomfortable or lack confidence when speaking to farmers during challenging emotional or financial times.
As agriculture service providers, we can provide much needed support and guidance for our farm families and community; however, many feel they lack the “soft skills” to support them. To help agribusiness professionals feel more confident in their listening and communication skills allowing them to strengthen farmer/consultant relationships, Extension Fond du Lac County Dairy & Livestock Agent Tina Kohlman and Washington County Agriculture Educator Stephanie Plaster developed a series of workshops, presentations, and resource guides on “Making the Connection”.
The teaching materials addresses topics related to engaging with empathy and unconditional positive regard to stimulate and respond to the desire, ability, reason, and need to change from the farmer. Communication skills to support the conversations including active listening concepts such as the use of open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective statements, and summarizing statements.
The teaching materials were developed as mix and match sections specific to the topics one wants to teach, with factsheets and activities built to engage the audience and practice the skills taught.
The materials were presented, in whole or in part, at 13 different meetings and conferences to over 375 participants.
|2020 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference