Once again, many of us will be attending a family dinner this weekend to celebrate Easter. Perhaps this will provide you an opportunity to share about what you do on your farm with an extended family member.
As in any business, agriculture tends to have words that only those who are involved in the day to day operation might understand. Be aware of this.
Several years ago, the company that I worked for acquired another company. One of the high level managers from the acquired company shared that he had attended a meeting where all the new managers were learning about all the corporate strategy. The problem was - our company used a lot of acronyms that the other company did not use. So even though these folks had all been in the same business for years, they had no idea what was being discussed. After the meeting, he approached the presenter and asked about several of the acronyms, and eventually the presenter said, “You didn’t understand anything I was talking about, did you?” No, none of these new upper level managers had understood. It was a waste of time for everyone involved.
Now, think about people outside of agriculture that we encounter. Do we use terminology that others understand or do we use our own lingo?
If others don’t understand what you’re talking about, what’s most likely to happen? You sound really smart, the other person zones out and nods until they can escape, or they ask all the right questions to really understand what you are saying. Any of these things can happen depending upon who the other person is, but if the goal is to have a real conversation that both of you understand, think about the words that you use from their perspective.
For example, I grew up on a farrow-to-finish hog operation, I understand exactly what that means, but do other people outside of agriculture understand? I’ve encountered others who are in agriculture who don’t understand what that is. I might say to someone outside agriculture that, “We had mama pigs who had baby piglets. We raised the baby pigs to fully grown pigs at which time they were harvested for meat.”
From a crops perspective you might talk about getting ready to plant the crop and how you will fertilize. You might compare how you fertilize your crops to how your city cousin takes care of their grass or garden. One could even talk about how important it is to be precise in how much fertilizer applied. If your city cousin applies 10% too much fertilizer in their yard, they may think it’s no big deal, but what if you did that across all your fields? You could talk about the cost and environmental impacts.
If your goal is to have a conversation you both understand, be thoughtful in the words you choose.