As a farm child, daughter-in-law, and now mother-in-law of a farm family, Elaine Froese has lived the culture of agriculture. She knows firsthand how conflict avoidance can threaten a farm and conversely how a proactive approach and a commitment to changing attitudes, behaviors and communication patterns can create harmony and happiness. Through her coaching services, she offers farm families straight talk and courageous conversations on the issues that seem impossible to resolve. Froese’s 10 Tools for Tough Issues can help your family start difficult discussions today.

1. TAKE CHARGE. Only you change you. Timeliness is key!

2. COME FROM CURIOSITY. “I’m curious about…” Identify conflict style and triggers and seek common ground.

3. ASK DEEPLY. Listen to what other family members have to say. Ask open-ended questions and describe feelings. Be soft on the person and hard on the problem.

4. PLAY WITH POSSIBILITY. Use a talking stick. Be positive and don’t pre-judge.

5. REALLY LISTEN. Build understanding by checking assumptions. Explore interests and feelings.

6. PONDER AND PERK, NOT PROD. Give yourself time to think before responding and consider the other person’s perspective.

7. CULTIVATE TRUST. Build confidence, be accountable and foster a culture of fairness, respect and commitment.

8. RESPECT BOUNDARIES. Clearly identify roles… Dad or Boss? Is this a family or business issue?

9. WE ALL END UP IN A BOX. At the end of our lifespan we all end up 10 feet under or scattered among the dirt we cherish. Come to terms with life, plan for death and face aging.

10. EXTEND THE OLIVE BRANCH. Create a legacy of open communication and relationships. Offer forgiveness, pass on authority and learn to “let go.”

Read more: Tackling The Tough Issues of Family Business

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