Assessing Applications – 20 mins

The most important factor in creating a successful farm apprenticeship is good communication! Both verbal and non-verbal communication not only supports the flow of information, teaching of skills, and ensuring workplace safety, but builds a foundation for a relationship of trust, respect and caring between the apprentice and mentor. Both parties have a co-responsibility to maintaining good communication on the farm.  Some things that support this are:

  • regular check-ins or farm meetings
  • farm maps or white boards with task assignments
  • standard operating procedures or guidelines
  • communication apps like What’s App, group texts, or Slack

But the biggest thing is developing your communication skills for:

  • active listening
  • emotional intelligence
  • giving and receiving feedback

Communication  & Stress / Conflict

Sometimes, communication goes south. Sometimes, disagreements happen, the mood sours, people get exhausted, patience runs out, and stressful situations or conflicts arise. Having some tools for how you show up in conflict is important. In life, stress and conflict is unavoidable.

Conflict can feel messy, sticky, and uncomfortable but, it is critical, unavoidable, and okay. Often conflict is simply pointing out that our needs (whether emotional or physical) are not being met. And that’s okay. We don’t have to become “good” at conflict, but we can reframe it in order to clarify assumptions, motivations, strategies, and expectations, and learn how not to harm one another. 

When we are stressed, the central nervous system goes into flight, fright, freeze, please or appease. It’s a survival mechanism that we’re born with to protect ourselves from harm or danger. We commonly deal with stressful situations and circumstances that can feel threatening to our emotional safety and well-being, even though they might not be a life-or-death situation. Depending on the context of the situation, or how we are feeling that day, we might tend toward one or two of them most of the time. Knowing your own tendencies can be helpful. 

It can also be helpful to reflect on what  practices help ground you when you experiencing conflict so that you can get out of these stressful states and approach the situation in a clear, respectful and confident manner. 

Furthermore, non-violent communication models suggest:

    • kindness and timeliness almost always helps diffuse a volatile situation
    • rather than blaming others, use “I” statements (“I feel ______ when this happens.”
    • focus on the behaviour, not the person
    • find the wish or request under the criticism and express that
    • validating the other person’s experience
    • consider what I might be doing that might contribute (even a little) to making the other person feel unsafe

If you are struggling with communication on your farm, reach out to your provincial coordinator. They can help strategize on different approaches or even facilitate conversations. You’re not in this alone – we are here to support. 

Communication Resources:

Turning Towards Each Other – A Conflict Workbook by Jovida Ross & Weyahm Gadbian