Communicating as leaders

Pagel presents at Women in Dairy event

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HUTCHINSON, Minn. — Dairy women across west central Minnesota united Feb. 1 for fellowship and to hear keynote speaker Kristy Pagel present at “Women in Dairy: Five Forms of Communication” at the Crow River Winery near Hutchinson.

Pagel, of Leading Edge Consulting LLC, talked about communication at the event that was sponsored by the Minnesota Dairy Initiative and the University of Minnesota Extension.

“When we think about being leaders and what it means to manage systems, what it means to have relationships, the ones that we need, and then also intentionally work on our growth, it does require communication,” Pagel said.

Pagel focused on five forms of communication: verbal, nonverbal, written, visual and listening. She spoke on areas of management for leaders, evaluated strengths and weaknesses of communication forms, talked about zones of learning and explained how to move from comfort to growth.

“Communication: It’s a journey, it’s an experience, it’s ongoing,” Pagel said. “If you think you’re going to master it, you’re not.”

Pagel said the three areas of leadership are managing processes and people, leading and influencing, and self-management.

“As leaders, what (is it) we sign up for?” Pagel said. “(We sign up for) growth, self-management.”

Pagel said communication is interpersonal or intrapersonal. Interpersonal communication refers to the communication that happens between two people. Intrapersonal communication is internal dialogue.

Though Pagel spent the majority of her presentation on interpersonal communication, she touched on intrapersonal communication.

“That’s the conversations that we have going on inside our head, some of which can weigh us down,” Pagel said. “Hopefully, you’re surrounding yourself with people, information or quotes that lift you.”

Pagel gave all attendees printed affirmations to help with intrapersonal communication.

Pagel said that when communicating with people, one should consider the method used and the point being made. If there are communication blocks with one form of communication, try switching to a different method.

For example, a team goal on the dairy not being met could be reached if the manager switches from providing numbers to graphs using colors, like red and green, or a smiley face when a goal is met or needs attention.

When it comes to self-development, Pagel said that every person operates within a comfort zone. Growth happens when a person pushes through that zone. This zone becomes the growth zone.

“You have to push through that fear zone to get to the learning zone,” Pagel said. “You have to practice something different. Habits begin to change. That’s when learning takes place. Then, you get growth. Growth becomes the new norm.”

Pagel had attendees write down a communication goal on a sticky note with a deadline of one week. She encouraged attendees to have goals of incremental improvement.

Pagel discussed each of the five forms of communication.

The first form of communication is verbal communication. Pagel said this is the most common and can often lack clarity.

The second form of communication, non-verbal, refers to what the body does during a conversation.

“Think about how you show up when you’re in a conversation, how you react to situations,” Pagel said.

This type of communication can include the tone of delivery, whether someone is leaning forward or backward, and even whether a phone call is answered or not.

The third form of communication is written communication. This can range from a text to an email or blog.

The fourth form of communication is visual communication. This can include graphs, emojis, logos and posters.

Pagel encouraged attendees to go home and look at the posters and other visual communication on their farms. If they are dirty, out of date or damaged, replace them with something fresh.

“We become numb to them, because they’ve been there too long,” Pagel said.

She also said that if a farm is struggling with a goal, it might be time to replace the visual communication associated with the goal.

“Is it the same thing you’ve been posting for the last 10 years in the same fashion that you’ve been doing for the last 10 years?” Pagel said.

The final form of communication is listening. Pagel said this form of communication is often missed.

“When we are trying to get our point across and having a conversation, the importance of listening to what the other person is saying will help us know what to communicate next,” Pagel said.

One way to practice active listening is to repeat a portion of what the person is saying back to them in the response, Pagel said.

“A person appreciates that you took the time to be present and hear them and what they said,” Pagel said.

Pagel had attendees fill out a self-evaluation form to rank their strengths and weaknesses for the five forms of communication and to also rank someone they interact with, such as a partner, on their communication skills.

Pagel encouraged attendees to take home the evaluation form and fill it out as part of a farm team meeting.

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