Building trust with farming colleagues
By Sarah Cole
The Climate Champion farmers achieved some fantastic results during the program they took part in – designed to help farmers manage climate risk by connecting them to researchers and equip them with the best climate knowledge around.
We were continually inspired by their enthusiasm and persistence in being there for people who were interested in how they manage climate as best they can on-farm.
But climate change has been a dirty phrase, at times, in rural areas – especially when it gets mixed in with opinions about politics and policies.
So how did the farmers in the program work within this controversial area? I studied how they created trust when communicating about climate with their farming colleagues.
The crux was that they accepted other farmers’ points of view as being best/right for them. That is: if you accept another’s point of view as best for them, that shows them you trust them, which gives them space and reason to trust you.
The challenge of doing this reminds me of a quote by Stephen Covey: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Success for the Climate Champion farmers often required them to go beyond listening to understand, towards listening to accept.
Decision-making, as you might expect, was reinforced in my study results as a very social process for many farmers. It’s interesting that when we see fake news increasingly perpetuated and spread, part of why it can proliferate is that the reputations of fake news sites are expendable – unlike our personal reputations, which are absolutely vital to us for social relationships.
Image: Econnect Communication