Use Your Words – Effective Communication

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Social media brings an incredible opportunity to reach many more people than we could ordinarily reach. It also provides a huge opportunity for miscommunication. Consider this:

“…people form their perceptions in a conversation in three ways:55%:body language,38% tone of voice, and 7%: choice of words when talking about feelings or attitudes. This suggests that 93 percent of communication occurs through nonverbal behavior and tone; only 7% of communication takes place through the use of words – thus the “93/7 Rule.” – Overcoming Fake Talk

Think about that for a minute. Think about the last few interactions you’ve had with people face to face. Their body language, tone of voice – how much did that add to the exchange?

If 93% comes from body language, nonverbal behavior, tone – what happens when the only thing you have to base communication on is the 7% use of words? Drama fights? Misunderstandings? Meltdowns?

Those words – that communication – that takes a much bigger importance if you can’t *see* that 93%. We’ve all seen it – email lists, forums. Name calling, swearing, tirades.

Stop. Change your approach. Are you hearing effectively? Ask the person questions, verify what they mean. Don’t at this point put your opinion in – *listen* to their message. Listen, listen and listen some more.

Then respond. Not react – getting defensive isn’t responding. Responding leaves the option to agree to disagree.

Some people just want to argue. Animal extremists will hang onto insults and converting until their last breath. People who push “go vegan” will not listen to anything you say about the benefits of eating rabbit. Don’t waste your time.

Use the echo – after listening when you think you get it ask them “I hear you saying <whatever> – am I understanding you clearly?” This gives them a chance to correct it, or happily feel understood. Then, choosing your words carefully (remember it’s all they have to go on – they can’t hear your tone or body language either), form a response.

It takes extra effort, but effective communication is worth the effort.

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5 Ways To Reach Out in Rabbit Promotion

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe all want to promote rabbits. We want to insure we’ll be able to breed and show next year, or maybe expand our meat rabbit market, or sell rabbits for pets.

Many have looked at advertising, social media and other online aspects. Many see the legislation put forth that can affect rabbits, and some blindly support it under the guise it’s for *those* breeders or *that* species.

A minority of people raise the food we eat every day, and that which we feed our rabbits. A minority of people keep rabbits and the misinformation is extensive.

While we can do incredible things to promote the keeping of rabbits online, don’t ever underestimate the impact of promoting offline. Indirectly. In your community.

1. Be a good neighbor. Keep your rabbit area as clean as possible, dispose of manure regularly, keep flies controlled. The vast majority of people already do this – but we should continue to strive to do better as much as we can!

2. Pursue other activities. Maybe the kids are in soccer, or there’s a bake sale at church, or other things that you’re involved in. Those people already know the kind of person you are – but may not know you have rabbits. Be a good rabbit representative.

3. Share your rabbits. It might be some fiber from rabbits you use and wear or a photograph on your office desk. Don’t push rabbits, necessarily, but be open to questions when people have them.

4. Be the source of rabbit information. If you don’t know, don’t fake it – find someone who does. This goes for general as well as those who misrepresent breeds they don’t have and aren’t familiar with. This goes for your online activities also! Be approachable. When someone sees a rabbit they think of you.

5. Work on your social and communication skills. We all need to do this sometimes. We talk when we should listen, then misunderstand what someone is saying. Stop, learn better ways to communicate. “Homeschool” yourself on the topic if you need to.

Shooting Rabbits And Other Animals

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Need some tips and ideas on getting pictures of rabbits for a blog, website, promotion or other reasons?

Food, Farm, Life Choices

We shoot pictures. Often. Chickens, dogs, rabbits. For the blog, Facebook wall, capturing memories, marketing – many reasons for it but getting good photos doesn’t have to be expensive.

Today’s expenditure. $40.  Yes I’m giving away secrets today!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile we show openly our animals as they really are, we like to present them at their best. It’s hard to have a studio or professional photographer, and we have the advantage of mobility that larger stock don’t have! Consider these three pictures…all taken in the same location at the same time, within minutes of each other. Notice the cast given to the photo (the lighting was not changed). This is the same rabbit – but the tan of the basket above really accentuates the baby tinge of brown on his back.

Remove the basket, and it almost doesn’t look like the same rabbit. Then, to change it up again, compare the…

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Rabbit Photo Promotions

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople are visual creatures. We all are – and it’s worked against us for too long. Get those photos out rabbit folks!

With blogs, Pinterest, Facebook and a host of other social media platforms, there is a huge amount of publicity we can do that is *free* – and we should be doing it. Visual works!

Think it doesn’t? Quick – what do you think when you hear hog farm? Beef cattle? Dairy? For many the first images are horrific *visual* images put forth by animal rights organizations along with “go vegan” slogans. This has worked against agriculture, and left many in catch up mode trying to show their clean, well run operations that are not horror houses.

We cannot make the same mistake. Photos are something we can control. We can show our rabbits without leaving home. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, you can share photos easily but go beyond just conformation shots. Those are what we want to see as rabbit breeders, yes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut think of the rest of the world. Those who don’t raise rabbits. Think of the opportunities we have at least once a month to bring a smile to those who aren’t involved with rabbits. Break outside the box.

Take your clean rabbits and get some good photos. Get some casual photos – babies playing on their mother, or set up some unposed photos with props.

Now take those photos and go get familiar with Picmonkey.com – it’s free. You can use another photo editing program, but Picmonkey gives you a lot of options. Always put your name in the corner. Use your rabbitry name, or personal name if you prefer – but have it in a consistent place if possible. This insures that it isn’t taken to be used in places we don’t want it used, like certain organizations we probably wouldn’t want to be associated with.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can alter the exposure if the photo is a little too light or dark. You can crop it, rotate and even fix redeye issues under the touch up section (looks like a little lipstick). (Tip – for white rabbits and literal red eye use the people setting – for dark eyes that come out green use the “furball” setting.)

When you shoot some photos leave spaces – in the text setting you can add things for birthdays, holidays and other occasions. Some examples are on this page.

You can even go to the symbols and get creative – I put a clover “tattoo” in an ear for St. Patrick’s day. Of course it’s not on the real rabbit. Most people will realize that just like they realize their morning cereal doesn’t really talk to them. 🙂 If you look close above the Easter and St. Patrick’s day pictures is the same picture – with different ‘dressing.’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet creative. Post birthday greetings with rabbits in them to people on your wall and promote rabbits at every birthday. Make up some for holidays – look at the online listings of national <whatever> day or month and make some that are funny and play into that.

Make some serious, some funny, some just because (hey it’s Friday! or “it’s Monday already”).  Some examples – think up how you can use the same principles. Visual works! They get clicked on, shared, passed along to friends. And guess what…when it’s shared the friends friends all see rabbits. That’s free promotion and smiles we can’t reach on our own.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If Social Media Saves Lives, Can’t We Promote Rabbits?

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This is a clip worth watching. As you do, notice how social media has made a difference, has engaged people and, yes, even saved lives in the tornadoes that raked Alabama two years ago.

Help people out. Share your interest. Share about rabbits in passing and it builds awareness without preaching to folks. When a ‘rabbit issue’ comes up maybe, just maybe, those folks will remember us and it won’t be just rabbit breeders speaking up.

This isn’t just about us. It’s not to sell more rabbits, although that might happen. Who can you reach out to and help? Maybe gardeners, if that’s your interest, and be a source for rabbit fertilizer. Think of your interests besides rabbits. If you don’t have any, it’s time to develop one. It will bring you new folks to talk to and remind you what it’s like to be new.

As you watch this video – it’s about 50 minutes – think of how we can apply that to what we do. The ideas are many!

4 books to help your blog

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Many people like what a blog can do in the terms of traffic but not so much in the maintenance. It can be an effort to keep it interesting and fresh. Here are four books worth investing in to help your blog.

No One Cares What You Had For Lunch – 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason – This isn’t a big involved book, but brings forth a host of great ideas that every person reading can use in a unique way. If you use each idea just three times in a year there’s nearly a year of blogs!

Content Rules – How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and more) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. Long title, lots of information! Mix it up – video in a blog, asking questions and so much more. Lots of ideas here that with a little creativity could be great for farm and rabbit blogs!

Likeable Social Media goes a bit beyond blogging alone but worthwhile to getting people to listen. If we get more listening there is more support when it comes to zoning battles and other issues.

Will Write For Food – The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir and more. Some great tips to connecting “outside the choir”. People love to talk food – and what does farming of all types do but produce food. Especially for those with meat rabbits – talk meat dinners! Cooking tips, meal ideas, what works, what doesn’t…you’ll be surprised how many love to eat rabbit and are looking for information! Connect with a great meal and it creates demand for rabbit not only in your area but everywhere.

The investment here is less than a few bags of feed. The investment can mean an increased demand and decreased speed bumps for all who raise rabbits. That’s worth a look!

Friend Or Foe

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By Mark Klaus

Remember the “good ole’ days”, those days in which we proudly displayed our animal enterprises for the entire world to see? I know I certainly do.

As a very young man on our farm in Iowa, I had many agricultural enterprises. The cattle and hogs bought me my first transportation and paid for my college tuition. I also had what I considered my “hobby” animals which did not contribute much to my bottom line, but contributed greatly to the family’s table.

Infrequent visitors to our family’s farm, mostly consisting of church pamphlet distributors and vacuum cleaning salespersons were almost certain to inquire about the animals located on the farm. The barnyard smells they were perhaps unaccustomed to, as well as the various noises sparked their interest. Being quite proud of the great care I gave to my animals, I would proudly give these individuals a tour and explain what my daily chores consisted of.

I would not even consider such activity today.

I am certain Animal Rights Extremists existed in those “good ole’ days”, however I was largely naive to their activities and the threat they pose. The lack of technologies such as pinhole cameras now affordable to many and probably more importantly editing software made my naive behavior far less risky than it is in today’s world.

I’m an agriculture advocate, and try to stay on top of the actions of Animal Rights extremist groups. I also do a bit of writing on the subject for an agricultural publication.

Although I fully realized that all animal interests are threatened by the various national Animal Rights organizations and some local groups, the widely publicized Dollarhite and Belle cases sparked my interest regarding the threats faced by the rabbit industry.

For full disclosure, I must first state that I do not current own any rabbits. My total experience with rabbits was a project as a youngster raising a handful of animals which later were placed on the dinner table. The thinning of the local rabbit population for consumption completes my knowledge of rabbits. In short, I am indeed no expert on proper rabbit husbandry.

Nonetheless, my interest was sparked after hearing of the Belle case, and I decided to hear what the “rabbit world” was saying on social media regarding the case.

I remained a silent observer for many days, gaining a better understanding of the issue, and what was seen as the biggest threats to rabbit owners. Occasionally I asked a question regarding something I was unfamiliar and inexperienced with. However, soon the discussion led itself down a path in which I could remain silent no longer.

The discussion developed into an all-out attack on more “mainstream” animal agriculture, a topic I am very familiar with. Quite simply, I was shocked at what I was reading. What had appeared for weeks to be a group greatly opposed to the animal rights movement suddenly appeared to me to be furthering their agenda. The same inflammatory terms and misinformation spread by these groups was being repeated by this very group that was so vocally opposed to them.

I withdrew from the conversation, concerned that by remaining in the discussion I was doing nothing but distracting from the group’s mission. Shortly after, I came to realize something that I feel as animal owners we all must recognize.

We all have been influenced to some extent by the very same animal rights organizations we oppose. Refusing to acknowledge this is what leads to the disconnect between animal interests in what could be a more united group to oppose the threats we all face as animal owners.

Perhaps a cattle rancher may not understand the threats faced by rabbit owners, and may fall victim to misinformation presented by Animal Rights extremists, thinly veiled as a mainstream media report.

Maybe the recent events in Ohio concerning exotic animals has led many to believe that taking away animal ownership rights of individuals with proper knowledge of the care of such animals is a good thing, again helping to further the agenda of the animal rights machine.

Lastly, as I observed by a few rabbit enthusiasts on social media, belief in the misinformation spread by animal rights extremists regarding more mainstream agriculture exists also.

As a first step, perhaps as animal owners we should first attempt to have discussions with others regarding the issues and concerns they have in their own enterprises. Gain knowledge from those with experience rather than accepting what you feel you know, which may have come from an unreliable source.

I will leave you with a rather simple question. In regards to fellow animal owners versus animal rights extremists, which is our friend, and which is our foe?

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