Relationships grow on communication. Like everything else on the farm, they suffer when neglected.
Farms usually combine work and home in one location, this can make for very close relationships. It can also mean there is little escape from each other when times get tough and conflict occurs. It’s important to separate farming business communications from family communications.
All relationships require effort, whether it’s personal relationships with family members or relationships with other farm workers. It’s important to talk about issues as they arise. Some conflict is normal, but don’t let things build up until someone explodes.
Communication is important in relationships with partners, children, other family members, work colleagues and friends. It allows us to share interests, aspirations and concerns, to support each other, to organise our lives and make decisions, and to work together in caring for children. Most of us can learn how to communicate more effectively. A relationship counsellor can help if communication is difficult or breaks down.
Communication needs to be prioritised. When day-to-day communication is being neglected due to the busyness of life, setting time aside for a family or farm business meeting can be important. Make these meetings a regular occurrence so concerns are dealt with promptly. Schedule them in advance to avoid clashing with busy times in the farming calendar. Keep meetings structured with an agenda and notes taken, so that everybody is informed, on the same page and clear about meeting outcomes. Make these meetings an opportunity to celebrate your successes as well as your challenges. Give everyone a chance to be heard.
Never underestimate the value of having a conversation. However, communication is not always only about talking—listening is just as important. Taking some time out of our busy day to listen—uninterrupted—to someone who might be doing it tough can have enormous benefit. Be patient, avoid judgement and recognise that everyone experiences stressful situations differently.
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- The nature of farm life, combining home and work in one location can at times put a strain on relationships.
- All relationships can become strained and tense at times and some conflict is normal.
- Talk about your feelings and listen to the other person’s point of view.
- Find a middle ground on issues that are causing friction.
- Ensure farming business communication is clear—scheduling regular meetings and keeping written records.
- Learn to build healthy and happy relationships to prepare for the hard times.
References used for this topic
Family relationships online
Better Health Channel
Relationships and communication
Better Health Channel
Rural issues – suggestions for farm families in crisis
Communication is key to family farming
Grains Research and Development Corporation
A Guide to Communication for Farm Families
Research & reviews:
The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues
Connecting as a couple: Communication skills for healthy relationships
What’s love got to do with it? The role of healthy couple relationships and marriages in promoting child, family, and community well-being
Current Opinion in Psychology
What Type of Communication during Conflict is Beneficial for Intimate Relationships?