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What gift can you give family partners this holiday season?

Getty/iStockphoto/catnap72 Barn with Holiday Wreath for Country Christmas
Sometimes the best gifts we can give to those we love and work with are free.

In this season of joyful giving, what can you gift your family business and/or its partners? Here are three gifts that I often see sorely needed in family farms.

Praise. We’re told all the time to improve our business. So, it’s natural to stay focused on what needs to change or get better. Or, if you’re a perfectionist like me, my ‘helpful suggestions’ can be perceived as constantly griping. A simple “great job” or “you did that really well” can go a long way—to family members and team members.

I worked with my father for ten years. When I was in the trenches trying to prove myself, it often felt like all I heard was criticism. But I remember one particular day where he stopped what he was doing and told me what a great job I was doing and how proud he was of me. It was so substantial to me that I remember every detail--I can tell you what chair I was sitting in! I have heard clients share similar descriptions of “that moment frozen in time” when Dad trusted me, when Dad praised me with heartfelt words.

Gratitude. You might consider gratitude a subset of praise, but think of it distinctly. It is saying thank you. I appreciate you showing up every day with a smile and great attitude. I appreciate that you are good at equipment repairs because I am not. I appreciate that you enjoy bookkeeping because I wouldn’t want to do that. I appreciate you bringing meals to the field. I appreciate you being patient with me when I get upset. And on and on. Are any of your family or business partners waiting to hear a word of thanks?

Assume the best. When you find it difficult to work with someone, or they continually frustrate you, stop yourself from assuming the worst. Stop thinking they are annoying you on purpose, they didn’t listen to instructions, they don’t care. What would happen in your relationship if you assumed the best instead? Ask questions—and truly listen to the answer--to understand what they said, did, or thought, before jumping to conclusions. Consider that they may have just had a bad day and messed up. Reflect if any of your actions contributed to the situation. Take a deep breath and decide what you hope to accomplish in the big picture.

Sometimes the gifts we can give are free, yet so valuable.

Davon Cook is a family business consultant at Pinion. Reach Davon at

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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