One of the very good things about working in the agribusiness sector is that I get to work with many people who care – about their crops, theirs and other businesses,  their reputations. This care leads to better people, better businesses, better results and a better world. We have a high care factor.

My observation is that when things get a bit tough, this care factor increases, and we try to help even more.

But dare I say – we can care too much. Sometimes we care too much about issues that are beyond our control and outside our responsibilities. And this caring can lead us to over stepping “the line.”

We need to be very clear about our boundaries – drawing the line between what we are prepared to do and give and what we are able to do to assist others. We need to look after ourselves and maintain our emotional wellbeing and resilience in order to look after others.

YOU NEED TO SET THIS BOUNDARY AND YOU NEED TO MAINTAIN THEM – for your own benefit.

Tips in setting these boundaries:

  1. Be clear about your role. Many people operate in an advisory role with your clients. Your role is to advise – not to do. Remember the difference between being emotionally invested in a client’s world as opposed to being legally or financially invested. Your role is to offer research-based advice to the best of your ability. Their role is to make the decision about whether they will take this advice, based on their own criteria; matching the long vision for their business, their financial situation, their personal needs etc.
  2. Don’t get personal. Don’t take it personally if your advice is not taken. If you do, see rule number 1! As long as you have provided advice to the best of your ability and have taken appropriate duty of care, you have fulfilled your part of the relationship.
  3. Monitor your emotions. If you find yourself getting personally involved or affected by your clients’ situation, step back and ask “why?” Why are you feeling what you are feeling? Have you overstepped the line?
  4. Empathise don’t sympathise. You can have empathy for your client’s situation – “I can see this is a tough situation for you.” Do not sympathise – “I feel so sorry for you” (keep in mind the effects of fear and shame on behaviours).
  5. Decide how available you will make yourself. One of the advantages and disadvantages of living in communities is that you are available. Decide how best to manage this availability. Set rules on how available you will be and when you will take calls or manage emails. Adhere to these rules.
  6. Focus on what you can control. Do your job. That is about providing the most effective advice, solutions and services for your clients to make the most informed discussions for their benefit.
  7. Call it as you see it – not as you feel it. Your job is to be professional. To make recommendations of the facts as you see them – not emotions as you feel them (refer back to tip number 4).
  8. It’s OK to care. Just do it within the boundaries of your job and how you can best look after yourself, your family, your mates and your business.