Ray Pons, Senior Communications Specialist at Grassroots Public Affairs reflects on his recent training session and shares important lessons learned during this experience.

Recently, I had the opportunity to deliver some advice, some training & coaching, to a group of young farmers. Young in years, yet very mature in substance, these young men and women left me most impressed. 

Grassroots has developed solid relationships across the country with many members of the agriculture community and we’ve held sessions to assist in understanding and executing on our 3C’s approach to effective lobbying [Clarity – Consistency – Collaboration]

My primary focus was to help these highly capable farmers to embrace the principles of managing their desires to “pitch too quickly” and instead focus on “building relationships” to gain greater support from politicians and government staffers. In the whirlwind world of provincial and federal politics slowing down can seem counter-productive and while it is easy to think about it is not at all easy to do. 

But in this group, on this day, they did it! 

Early in the training we introduced a role-playing scenario. They were asked to prepare what they would say when in a meeting with government representatives. It became evident that the farmers tended to cut-to-the-chase almost immediately and talk about their problems on the farm and their vital need to get greater financial, legislative, and resource assistance for the agriculture sector. The issues they spoke of were not imaginary, they were real, very real, and their passion clear to see. 

However, balancing that passion was an open-mindedness to embrace that there might be a better way than the instinctive tell-and-sell approach. 

I suggested that effective lobbying comes down to engaging with the other person first and foremost, establishing what you hope will be a start of a personal and professional relationship, so that your very real issues connect more adhesively to their very real issues. 

After hearing the first efforts from the three groups we put them back to work, not to craft what they will say but what they will ask

In a matter of minutes, almost immediately, it was most noticeable when a young lady said: “Mr. Minister, what got you into running for office?” 

A partner in her group then asked: “How important is agriculture in your mind, where might it rank on a scale of 1 to 10?” 

They learned the lesson of creating powerhouse questions prior to pitching. I learned the lesson of finesse when giving instructions. Win-Win. 

Harness the power of sincere and truthful relationship building. Put yourself in their moccasins for a moment and empathize before you emphasize. Slow down when in their whirlwind. You’ll be glad you did. And so will they. 

And if Grassroots Public Affairs might be of help to enable you to better craft your message, please get in touch: info@grassrootspa.ca

Ray Pons

Sr. Communications Specialist

Ray is an expert on leadership development, impactful communication and strategic coaching.  In addition to his years as a serial entrepreneur, Ray’s experience includes life insurance, reinsurance, being a faculty member trainer at Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach to businesses small and large. He has a straightforward, no-nonsense style heavily influenced by Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People & The 8th Habit. Ray brings an experienced, yet innovative approach to performance improvement, team-building and change management.

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