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Having the Courage to Talk

by Dallas Mount

deep conversation

I’m extremely fortunate that I have the pleasure of working with an exceptional group of clients and colleagues. Those who choose to attend the Ranching for Profit School are already a cut above the average agricultural business operator. They are above average because they have chosen to make a significant investment in themselves along with other key people in their business.  

Another thing that separates our clients is that they are willing to have difficult conversations. Developing the skills to have these conversations in an effective manner does not come easy. Most of us did not get into ranching because we are strong in the “people skills” arena.

I’m currently co-teaching a RFP school with John Locke in Oklahoma City and we just finished a heart-felt discussion on succession issues in agriculture. I’m honored and humbled by the willingness of the participants to engage in these discussions on what is a sensitive issue but is so critical in the leadership of our businesses.  

One of the best resources I’ve come across is the book, Crucial Conversations, which offers real-world tools and techniques to make these difficult conversations more effective. However, a big part of it is just having the courage to talk. Many would just choose to avoid the conversations entirely which often results in issues becoming bigger and more stressful overtime.

Here is a list of considerations when discussing sensitive issues:

  1. Ask questions rather than offering solutions.
  2. Repeat back what you hear the other person saying, in your own words.
  3. Keep the goal of the conversation at the forefront of the dialogue.
  4. Use visuals –a flip chart or white board helps to focus the energy on the issue not the people.

Leading a business means building your skills in navigating what can be sticky issues. I want to encourage you to have the courage and the will to press forward even when the road can be difficult.

3 Responses to “Having the Courage to Talk”

August 12, 2020 at 6:37 am, David Pratt said:

Spot on again Dallas. Two ears, one mouth. When engaging in difficult conversations it’s helpful to use them in that proportion.

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August 12, 2020 at 6:43 am, Brian Allio said:

Great article! This is one of the most difficult areas for anyone to address. We tend to see and hear things from the place we’re in and if that place is anger, hurt or frustration, then the outcome is already predisposed. One of the things we’ve learned is that, while having the conversation is important, having it in the right mood space if vital. We’ve alway said that having the right conversation in the wrong mood is having the wrong conversation. Again, great article!

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August 12, 2020 at 10:40 am, Sandy said:

Thank you, my husband and I took a walk around the orchard this morning discussing this very issue. I am going to print these four suggestions for our next family meeting. And I will order the book.

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