This scene is common when driving across southern Alberta and Saskatchewan
This scene is common when driving across southern Alberta and Saskatchewan

On the road again this week and checking another Canadian province off my list. I was invited to speak at the Saskatchewan Stock Growers 103rd Annual General Meeting in Regina. This is just a 9 to 10 hour drive from home and a great time of year to make a drive across the green, wide open country.

While at the meeting, I was asked to speak about HOW to advocate for agriculture. We’ve hashed time and again about the need for advocacy, but not necessarily the how. Plus, in a room full of ranchers at a policy meeting, reality may not be all that willing to jump online to join advocacy efforts.

We must realize that agriculture advocacy is about much more than social media. Plenty of opportunities arise for advocacy in our communities, during face-to-face meetings and even at the grocery store.

I had the opportunity to discuss this topic briefly with Shaun Haney of RealAgriculture. See the full story here – Agricultural Advocacy is More than Just Social Media.

Saskatchewan Stock Growers AssociationBy the way, I messed up on those C’s in that interview. My Leadership Class will get to heckle me on this, because we just covered the topic in this month’s workshop and training. The 2 C’s are actually – We Care and We Are Capable of addressing consumer concerns. But, that’s what I get for trying to think without notes while being recorded. But, give it a listen and let me know if you think I made any sense of it.

One of the big take home messages from my presentation – How to approach controversy. We must always listen in a conversation, but we do not always have to impose our ideas and beliefs upon others in the first discussion.

When possible, set the stage to avoid fear of retaliation from opposing viewpoints. When things get heated, don’t shut the other person down to end any possibility for future conversation. Here are six tips to help you set that stage:

  1. Listen respectfully, without interrupting
  2. Respect one another’s views
  3. Criticize ideas, not individuals
  4. Commit to learning, not debating
  5. Avoid blame and speculation
  6. Avoid inflammatory language

Taking these small steps to further conversation, may not help you win the argument, but you can plant a seed for future discussions and leave open a window of opportunity. If nothing else, maybe you’ll learn a few things about opposing viewpoints.

Some days you may lose the argument, but win the cause.

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Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association Annual General Meeting in Regina