Are you really having conversations right?

We live in a world of controversy.  It’s all around us and it is inevitable. Too many times, people have “conversations” that are entirely unproductive. After years of social media and avoiding important topics, genuine dialogue can be a rare find in our world. Odds are, your job after graduation will require you to have difficult dialogue with other people. In order to get the most out of difficult conversations, you have to think critically about your approach to such interactions. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

 

  1. Were you on your phone?

That’s right. If you want to have a meaningful conversation with someone, it will require putting down your smartphone. Social media can wait, and if you’re on your phone, you’re automatically not fully engaged in the conversation.

  1. Did you ask questions?

Were you actively trying to understand the other person’s point of view? Too many times, we have interactions in which we’re too focused on what we’re going to say next, and we miss important parts of what the other person is saying.

  1. Did you question yourself at all?

At any point in the conversation did you ask yourself: Could I be wrong about this? Is there a chance that the person I’m engaging with might have more relevant experience than me? I’m not saying you have to change your opinion, but if no one is ever willing to question their own viewpoints, a conversation will never be productive.

  1. Did you learn something?

“Everyone you ever meet knows something that you don’t.” ~Bill Nye

If you leave a conversation thinking that the other person has absolutely no knowledge or perspective to offer, you’re probably not listening. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but you should be able to leave a conversation having gained some piece of perspective.

 

Overall, it’s always important to ask yourself if you’re really listening. Stephen Covey said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.” He further challenges people to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. This is an incredibly difficult skill to master. Challenge yourself to do so. It will make your interactions and relationships so much more valuable, and you will become a better person for it.

The Raw Truth About Agriculture

When you hear the word “agriculture”, what words or images play in your mind? Perhaps you see an image of a combine plowing through a field. Maybe you think about the acres and acres of corn you see on your drive home. Maybe you think about cowboys, “southern accents”, that one Luke Bryan song, or that one person in your class who always came to school with mud on their boots. These ideas are small fractions of rural agriculture in the modern world.

When I tell people I’m an agriculture major, I usually get a lot of replies backed with stereotypes and assumptions. Most people ask me if I grew up on a farm or if I’m from a “farm town”.  Although I did grow up in rural southern Ohio, I never considered a career in agriculture until a scholarship opportunity nearly fell into my lap my senior year of high school. I was desperate and driven to burst through every open door that would lead me to my dream school- Ohio State. Little did I know that this opportunity would change my life entirely.

Most people transition to college “knowing” what they want to study or exploring the freedom that comes with choosing your major. My agriculture scholarship had restrictions so I was indefinitely locked into the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.  I was scared out of my mind and worried that I wouldn’t enjoy my classes or that I wouldn’t connect with any of my peers. To my surprise, I found a great need in the ag industry that I actually saw myself fulfilling- communication.

I would be lying if I told you that I perfectly molded to my peers. We had some similarities with our involvement in 4-H, but my projects consisted of cooking and scrapbooking, not livestock. Our families both worked with natural resources but my father worked in the lumber industry, not the agricultural industry. My school did not have an FFA program I could be involved in (until my senior year), I was not a 4-H camp counselor, nor did I grow up on a farm. Despite these contrasts that make me feel somehow less experienced, I have come to understand the advantages I have in communicating and analyzing my perspective and other’s perspectives of the ag industry.

I have realized that I do not fit into this perfect, square mold. I cannot morph comfortably into a box shape that confines my opportunities and achievements. But one year later and here I still stand, ready to shatter the glass ceiling that traps the future into oblivion about the raw truth of agriculture. I have found that I am most passionate about breaking the stereotype in a way that inspires other young people to pursue a career in agriculture. I  am passionate about my role as a young women in agriculture. And because I am passionate, I am now confident that agriculture is for me.

Love is in the air

Some people hate it, and some people love it, but either way Valentine’s Day is 4 days away! So, let’s have a chat about relationships! It doesn’t matter if you’re currently seeing someone, actively looking, or happily, perpetually single. Valentine’s Day and relationships are things most people thinks about on Feb. 14. Maybe you’re just in it for the discount chocolate on Feb. 15, your idea of sweet nothings is whispering I want to be with you as much as–if not more–I don’t want to be with a Furby at night, or you spend weeks planning something special for your boo.

To be honest, I’m more excited for Deadpool to be released on Feb. 12 this year, but to each their own.

Deadpool

Source: Marvel

But on a more serious note, let’s take a closer at some relationship statistics for college students…

  • 43 percent of women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors
  • 1 in 3 people in relationships have given their partner their computer, email, or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse
  • 57 percent say dating abuse is difficult to identify and 58 percent don’t know how to help someone who is experiencing it

What defines a healthy relationship?

No matter your relationship status these are important questions to think about. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is able to help:

Healthy relationships allow both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. COMMUNICATION and BOUNDARIES are the two major components of a healthy relationship. Ultimately, the two people in the relationship decide what is healthy for them and what is not. If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.

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Where can you get help or just talk to someone?

*If you are in an unsafe relationship please use caution and access these links from a public computer.

I know it’s a heavy topic but it’s one that has the potential to impact everyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, or personality. So, please, if you or someone you know is in this position, speak up.