Communication Skills

Communication skills are critical to all aspects of business development.  Whether you are considering a new venture or are well down the road and revising your business plan, the ability to exchange and gather information, perhaps in high-stakes crucial conversations, and to express the attributes of your value-added product or service honestly and without bias, can make or break your business.

By their very nature, many farming operations and farmer-led value-added business projects tend toward sole-proprietorships, partnerships and similar models where one person independently makes most of the decisions.  Many farmers don’t see the need to communicate and may consider situations that require it unnecessary and avoidable.

This mindset is eventually toxic to any operation, particularly value-added business ventures that require group decision-making, managing complex operations and diverse group dynamics.  Across the modern agricultural landscape, to be able to handle changing situations, new technologies and get the greatest advantage from key human relationships, verbal and written communication skills are priceless skill sets.

In a nutshell, effective communication is about learning to carefully listen, analyze, and then clearly present your ideas free from defensive posturing and bias; as well as to recognize and avoid the bad-communication traps laid by others.

There are countless great books and on-line tutorials on crucial conversations, facilitation, leadership, and self-assessment, with a wealth of cutting-edge research, case studies and resources.  Take a minute to search these topics, see what you find that resonates with you.  Any amount of time that you spend in this area will yield valuable insight into how you and others communicate (--or miscommunicate). 

The tutorial Human Communication & Verbal Problem Solving will give you an in-depth look at a few “rules-of-the-road” that can help anyone see how-to and how-not-to approach everyday business dialogs and high-stakes negotiations.  For more information on this topic, a sampling of resources is presented below.

 

Understanding Communications

Improving Communications Skills

Listening Skills

Links checked April 2016.