As we end the fourth full day of the Nuffield Contemporary Conference I can't help but think about communication and how we get our message across.
We had four unique presentations about conservation agriculture, biotechnology, genomics and research. All speakers were incredibly knowledgeable about their topics. Yet some got their message across better than others.
The topic of "telling our story" has come up many times. So here are a few thoughts on how to effectively communicate with others.
1. Listen first
Some people are better than others at actually hearing what is being said. The first rule of having a conversation is making sure you pay attention to your audience/counterpart. If someone asks you a question make sure you actually address it before you start off on another track. It can be incredibly frustrating to have a dialogue when you don't feel heard.
2. Share your values
When communicating with others make sure they know where you stand on a values standpoint. The Centre for Food Integrity has a consumer trust model which suggests first telling your consumer what values you share with them (e.g. Food safety) before providing them with scientific facts (see more at www.food integrity.org). Jean Lonie shared the key quote at the end of the day that "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." This can be applied in a variety of settings - not just the ag industry talking to consumers.
3. Keep an open mind
I heard so many people at the CSC today (and the past 3 days) say "that's a good point" or "I hadn't thought of that". The ability to learn is an amazing capacity that we have as humans. We need to make sure that we don't close ourself to new knowledge or new opinions. If we do that then the conversation shuts down completely. A little healthy debate never hurt anyone, and having your stance challenged is often an incredibly useful activity.
Are there other key pieces you can think of? How do you have effective conversations and get your story across?
I was raised as the seventh generation on a mixed livestock farm near Guelph, Ontario. Currently I am living in the beautiful Okanagan region of BC, where my husband works for Blue Mountain Winery. I maintain my close ties to Ontario agriculture through my job with AgScape (Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc.) and hope to bring a national, and global perspective to agricultural issues.