Ellen Pruden, who received the 2020 Honourary Patron Award from Dietitians of Canada, shares three tips that farmers and anyone else can use to improve their food communication.

3 Steps to Improved Food Communication

My motto is when we learn together, we grow together.  For farmers and people who work in agriculture, communicating about public trust can be frustrating, depending on your audience.  This is an area that I think we all can become better at.

The list below is based on Erin MacGregor’s professional experience and ongoing research into effective communication. Her three-step approach works and she has helped me grow as a communicator.  Erin is a registered dietitian, a professional home economist and a passionate agvocate.

3 Steps to Improved Food Communication

1. Get personal and be curious and listen

Getting personal is about making a connection. Making a small effort to find common ground is a way to disarm.  Being curious is about being interested in the other person.

Shelve your agenda, even if you think you know what’s coming, and ask questions. Be present. Simply listening. In making an effort to learn about what a person believes and values, and who they trust, will give you the framework needed for step two.

2. Validate and empathize

By validating, you are not necessarily agreeing with what a person saying, but that their feelings are valid because all feelings are valid.

What a person is stating, questioning or arguing is on some level, a reflection of what they value and believe in. Be curious about that they’re saying. Showing someone you can understand why they feel the way they do, gives you an in. You are showing them that their beliefs and values are legitimate.Empathizing or showing compassion opens the door for you to share your point of view.

Examples of validating statements include:

  • “I can see where you’re coming from”
  • “I understand what you mean”
  • “When you put it that way, it does sound scary”

This can be difficult especially if you are knowledgeable or believe strongly in a topic.

3. Relate your truth, but…

Facts don’t persuade people. People persuade people.

If you decide to take the step and share your knowledge or point of view, it’s important to present it in a way that appeals to their belief system. A convincing argument will depend on engaging a person’s values, not showing them logic.

Recognize that you come with a set of values too. The most effective communicators can change minds and opinions because they are willing to change theirs too.