Women tend to play a completely different role in farm succession planning from what they
normally play in their regular day-to-day. I often hear farmwives tell me they can’t get their husbands to help with succession planning. In fact, it’s hard to sit them down and even talk about it. Nine times out of ten, women are the driving force behind this process. Why is that?
Well, it’s no secret that men and women have very different communication styles. I’m going to give you some very scientific information (not really).
Men and women think differently.
Men have boxes in their heads. Maybe one box is farming, one is food (let’s be honest, we all love to eat!), and perhaps another one is sports. Among all of these boxes is one that women often don’t have—the empty box. In other words, when a man tells you he is not thinking about anything, he’s probably telling the truth. He is literally not thinking about anything at all. Men have all of these separate boxes, and those boxes rarely touch. Instead, they tend to think inside one box at a time.
For example, if I tell my husband, “We need to start thinking about generational farm planning.” He’ll say, “alright,” and be on his way. He’ll then go out into the field to plant, fix a combine, or some other pressing task that’s calling his attention. When he comes back in, I’ll ask him if he’s thought about farm succession. I would put money on the fact that he’ll say, “no, I was farming.” He has one compartmentalized thought at a time, and in this case, farming was the open box.
Women, however, are cut from a different cloth. Women have a superhighway of thoughts. When Eve’s feet set foot on earth, the first superhighway was created. That highway was in her brain. Our thoughts don’t stop. Our brains are moving nonstop at all times. What should I make for a potluck? What are my kids eating? What should my mom be eating? Did my neighbor REALLY say that? Will the kids get along when we pass away? It’s possible that we are thinking about all of these ideas simultaneously.
The thoughts never stop, and it’s a blessing when we know how to leverage them to our
advantage. This is why we’ll keep saying things like, “We need to get this planning done.” It’s not that we’re nagging as some may think. It’s because we can’t shut off the thought. We don’t have separate boxes that compartmentalize our thoughts like our husbands do. So, when families have a strong female leader who thinks like this and keeps pushing to get something done, the wheels are less likely to fall off. Without her, those things don’t get done at all. That is when bad things happen.
It’s time to lean into your superhighway. Lean into the fact that you can’t stop thinking about it. Take this as your sign and your time to take action. You have the power, the interest, and the pull to lead your family into the future. Step out of the passenger seat and take the wheel.
The fact that we can’t stop thinking about it is one of two big reasons why women are often the leaders of generational farm planning. The second reason is that we birth the next generation. We’re the caretaker from day one, and we cannot let go of that instinct no matter how old our children get. We have an innate drive to be the family nurturers. We are bonded to our children from birth and
oftentimes the parent that spends the most time taking care of them. We have God-given
intuition that helps us to nurture them no matter their age. Part of taking care of our family
includes building harmony between family members, which suits our intuition and nurturing instinct.
Another communication issue to think about during this process is that women tend to
communicate in the form of questions. We want people to get along, and this typically serves us well. We want to bring people together and create a consensus. So, we ask questions. Men, however, tend to speak in statements. For example, if you have two guys at a restaurant and one gets up to go get a beer, the other may simply say, “get me a beer, too.” Then, the first guy will go get the beers and bring them back to the table. It’s perfectly fine with them, that’s how they communicate with each other.
Let’s flip the script. If it’s my husband and I sitting at the kitchen table and he says, “get me a fork,” I’m immediately irritated. However, if he says, “Since you’re up, would you please get me a fork?” then it is completely different. Demands don’t go over very well with the ladies, and in turn, we don’t make demands of others (most of the time).
This can be problematic. When we approach a situation with the angle of asking a question, men tend to think we aren’t sure. If you say, “Don’t you think we should meet with a financial advisor to talk about farm succession planning?” a man may think, “Well, she’s just thinking about it. She’s not sure, and I have a different box to go to. I’m going to think about farming and not this because she’s really not sure.” However, if you turn it into a statement, it will garner a completely different response.
For example, “I’ve made an appointment with a financial advisor that specializes in farm succession planning, and you need to go with me Tuesday at 2:00 PM.” His receipt of that exchange will be completely different. He now knows that he needs to go with you Tuesday at 2:00 PM because it’s already been decided. He knows you’re confident and you know what you want. Women are often confident and know what they want, but don’t necessarily communicate it as such. Adapting how you communicate by understanding the differences between these thinking and communication styles can make a big difference. So, while females don’t currently find themselves as chief decision-makers on a farm, they need to step up more and more as generations continue. Effective communication is a critical key to success.
In summary, because of the differences in communication and a women’s drive to keep family harmony, we are often the driving force to get the succession planning process started. Without us, who knows what the future holds for our family? It’s time to rise up and ensure that we are setting our pack up for success.