One conversation at a time

One conversation at a time

In my 12+ years with UW Discovery Farms, I have worked in all aspects of the research and education that we perform. As a field technician, I supplied blood, sweat and tears to make sure the data we were collecting was to the highest level possible. As an educator, I have worked one-on-one and in group settings with producers who are hungry for information that will help improve their operations… not just the bottom line, but reducing their potential environmental impacts. As an administrator, I work with a highly skilled and dedicated group of people who are committed to providing the best possible information to producers throughout the state to aid them in making the best informed management decisions on their farms. I take great pride in the team I work with.

It seems so easy to label things to differentiate between “them” and “us” so we can take a side and disdain the “them.” Well, no matter how you define the “them” or the “us” I can guarantee you that our team has been and works with both.

The Discovery Farms program remains committed to help all producers, regardless of size, type of operation, or any other distinguishing feature, to reduce soil and nutrient loss while maintaining a profitable operation.

Increasingly more common is the practice of throwing out slanderous comments online with little forethought on the feelings or implications for the person on the receiving end. It is imperative that people take a moment to think about whether their comments move us toward solutions. To continue to move us forward, it will require better communication and less “us” and “them”, which is often easier said than done.

As a team, we’ve been working to improve our communications skills both internally and externally. In fact, Amber Radatz, our other Co-Director, highlighted what she has put in to practice in a recent blog post for the Ag Water Exchange:

I recently read an article that was very helpful to me as I tried to navigate a difficult conversation about the complex and sensitive topic of water quality. The article focuses on using positive communication and how it can affect how you are heard. I thought this sentence was a particularly good description of the outcome I wanted to achieve in this conversation:
Even if there is not ‘full agreement’ in the end, positive communication skills help move a conversation along effectively and work toward building a solid foundation of respect and a platform for increasingly meaningful exchanges in the future.

Positive communication doesn’t mean using a happy voice to say nasty (or un-nasty) things. It’s not about being a cheerleader, but rather about handling yourself and your words in a way that builds up a connection with another person and meets your values and goals for the outcome of the conversation.

As always, our doors are open. We look forward to the opportunity to have difficult conversations with positive communications.