I was having a good conversation the other day with a great farmer about a specific, detailed aspect of farming, and I am not sure how, but the conversation turned to the fact that his wife had died about one year ago. I listened as he told me the story: He had wanted to take her to the emergency room, but she had insisted he look after the pigs first, and by the time he got back to the house, she had passed away.

It was a lightning bolt out of the blue that shattered his life. He’s only 62, and they had been married for 40+ years. He mentioned the heartbreak and the lost will to go on. They worked side by side nearly every day of their adult lives. The loss, immeasurable.

I hung up the phone, immensely grateful that, for the moment, my life was full. My life does not have any open, gaping holes, or any plans and futures ripped out from underneath me. And I say thank you.

Empathy goes a long way when you’re talking with farmers. The Empathic Method – valuing their life stories, not just their product stories – is my approach when working with clients and consumers. Understanding the context and the underlying reasoning and rationale for everyday decisions made by farmers allows you to be a better partner. It makes for more powerful product development, improved services, and increased customer satisfaction, which leads to more sales, higher market share, and more happiness everywhere.

I hope you’ll keep this farmer in your thoughts this holiday, and that you’ll employ the Empathic Method in your conversations to build stronger connections.


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