Keep Fair Week COOL!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Each year the months of June, July, and August are known as the "Fair Season" across the Midwestern states. July is peak season for Indiana county fairs that offer opportunities for youth and adults alike to exhibit items and animals that they have been working with and learning about since early winter. The exhibits, action demonstrations, programs, and such also offer visitors to the fairs a chance to expand their knowledge about a variety of areas.

Along with the positive benefits of the fair season, there is at least one stumbling block: communication. The fair season often leads to additional stress and anxiety for all participants. These concerns are often related to the communication skill levels of those involved. Former Purdue Extension Director, Dr. David Petritz, shared the following info that would be good for all of us to remember.

Fair season is a time when communication, communication, communication is critical. Carl Mays, in his Power of One book, Are We Communicating Yet?, provides us with some valuable tips on communicating effectively

Effective communication is the lifeblood of good relationships with colleagues, volunteers, customers, vendors and family members. The American Management Association reported that 90 percent of all problems in an organization are a direct result of poor communication.

The dictionary defines communication as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviors. This means that communication is a two-way street, involving a sender and a receiver. The sender's responsibility is to present a clear message. The receiver's responsibility is to: hear, interpret, evaluate and respond to the message.

Effective communication does not occur merely because a message has been presented. The greatest obstacle to good communication is the assumption that communication has taken place when it hasn't. More important than what is said is how others perceive and respond to what is said.

Good communication will occur when the sender and the receiver show mutual respect. But, during the fair when stress and tensions are running at a fever temperature, it is easy to forget about mutual respect. The sender shows respect through the words used and the receiver shows respect through actively listening to what the sender has to say. It is a give and take situation with both parties doing some giving and taking during the process. The following are steps to positive communication experience.

* Clarify your ideas before attempting to communicate them (People often spend more time beating around the bush than getting to the core of what needs to be communicated).

* With empathy, acknowledge the rights and feelings of others. (Focus on needs not positions).

* Be honest. But use tact and good manners, make sure you are also honest. If you are not honest, integrity is lost. Communication is destroyed. Be compassionate in your truthfulness. Often, the manner in which you say something is more important than what you say.

* Pay attention to your body language. Nonverbal is 75 to 95% of communication. People respect and respond to good eye contact, smiles, cordial voice tones, good posture, enthusiasm and well-placed humor. And even though you are told, "Don't judge a book by its cover," people do judge you by your appearance.

* Listen when someone else is talking. The greatest communicators are not necessarily the greatest speakers. More often than not, they are the greatest listeners.

With the Putnam County Fair approaching, let's all keep the fair atmosphere cool despite the weather by communicating successfully with those around us. See you at the fair

Remember to check our website www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam to view the most up to date info. You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding column topics or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.

Upcoming Events

July 13-16: 4-H Project Judging

July 14: Enter non-food exhibits in Adult Open Class 4-7 p.m.

July 14 & 17: Aquaculture Workshop Contact 800-735-0195 for information

July 17-25 Putnam County Fair

July 18: Harris Hall Horticulture Single Cut Flower, Container Garden & Miscellaneous Garden Entries 8-11 am

July 20: Harris Hall Horticulture Garden, Herbs and Agriculture Entries 8-11 am

July 21: Harris Hall Horticulture Artistic Arrangements Entries 8-11 am

July 21-22: Nutrition Management Plan Development Wksp.

July 24 Putnam County Fair Livestock Auction

August 7-22: Indiana State Fair

August 18: Master Gardener Classes Ann Delchambre at 765-653-8411

August 26-27: Drainage 101 Maria Spellman, P O Box 1290, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1290.