Four Keys To Farm Family Conflict Management
Living with family is tough—and working with family can be even
tougher. At a Wheat Industry Conference seminar sponsored by AGCO Corporation, professional development consultant Laurie Richards
offered four keys to help avoid and manage conflicts that can threaten farm family interpersonal and business relationships:
Future focus—You’ve heard it before: “Pick your fights.” In the long run, is this problem really worth the time, energy, and pain it can cause your relationship? Or is it like so many of the
conflicts we encounter—a minor issue that seems major at the moment. Having a future focus means you’re willing to ask the tough questions: In five years, where will we be if I confront this issue today? In five
years, where will we be if I don’t confront the issue?
Self-esteem—Few people enjoy conflict. In fact, most of us avoid it because we fear rejection, confrontation, or we believe that others’ needs and feelings are more important than our own. These
fears make family conflict more difficult to deal with than conflicts with anyone else. Find a way to build your self-esteem by placing value on your own needs. On the airplane we’re told, “Place your own oxygen
mask on first before assisting those around you.” In life, if you don’t put your own oxygen mask on first, you won’t be able to take care of your loved ones.
Effective communication—Communication is not just talking. Communication is saying what others need to hear in order to understand us. The higher our emotions get, the less communication happens.
Instead, we simply take turns talking – sometimes louder and louder. In conflict, effective communication means being assertive – not passive and not aggressive. It means listening for understanding. And it means
being willing to negotiate a compromise that results in a win-win.
Self-discipline—The more you do it, the more you will do it. For example, the more you yell and slam doors, the more you will yell and slam doors. As well, the more you put up with things without
standing up for yourself, the more you will put up with things without standing up for yourself. And, the more you ignore problems, the more you will ignore problems. And they probably won’t go away.
Effectively managing family conflict requires a willingness to focus on the future, display of courage and self-esteem, ongoing use of effective communication skills, and the discipline to control personal
emotions in an effort to nurture the family and business relationship.