Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – Disagreements and conflict on the farm are unavoidable; they will happen eventually.

The difference between whether people move forward or the issue festers lies in how it is dealt with.

Beverly Beuermann-King is a workplace culture and resiliency expert with Work Smart Live Smart. She has seen firsthand the importance of having healthy relationships.

She draws on her experience growing up on a dairy farm.

“Everything that we say and everything that we do creates the culture that we work in, and so whether that culture is your family culture of working together on the farm, your ag business, or any kind of company that you’re in, everybody contributes to that culture,” says Beuermann-King.

She says people need to ask themselves how they set the rules of engagement for how they’re going to work together.

“In a farm family, in particular, we don’t set the rules of engagement. They just are, and they’ve always been that way.”

However, she says there has been a shift lately.

“I think what’s happening is we’re seeing real conversations.”

She points to the newer generation, which is starting to challenge the status quo of what the workday looks like.

“I don’t want to work myself to the bone. I don’t want to be here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I need to take care of myself.”

These are just a few of the things the next generation is communicating, according to Beuermann-King, who adds that when people start to have those conversations, it starts to shape what the on-farm culture is going to look like and what the ground rules are.

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As difficult as these conversations are in the moment, they make it much easier to communicate moving forward as they build on the communication culture within the farm or ag business.

She says it is important for people to step back and understand where their family members or co-workers are coming from. This allows you to provide options during times of disagreement.

“The more choice somebody has, the more control of the situation.”

She says if you can put in the extra work and think on your toes by putting it in option format you are going to avoid a lot a conflict.

Beuermann-King says taking time to clear the air allows everyone to understand the needs of others better.

Beuermann-King spoke at the recent Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference in Calgary in March.