Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I was fortunate to not only be able to thank my mom for all her hard work raising my three siblings and me but also to have my two children spending time doing the same for me. Of course, this particular holiday wouldn’t be the same without reflecting on some of our mom’s best advice. Two of my mother’s favorites were “you can get more flies with honey than vinegar” and “never underestimate the importance of a thank you.”
In the community association setting, both of those pieces of advice might prove to be helpful for board members and residents alike. There are legitimate gripes in some private residential communities stemming from sometimes boorish behavior displayed, in often equal measure, by the leaders and the led. Still, I wonder how many of these situations could be defused with a tactful or, even better, a kind word as opposed to “pouring fuel on the fire”-another one of my mom’s favorite sayings.
Last week, the media reported that a woman went to the house of her HOA president to discuss the need to implement a neighborhood watch program due to security issues in the community. The conversation quickly got heated and the woman was arrested for assaulting the president. If I were to play psychologist for a moment, I would surmise that the woman likely believed the president was not taking her security concerns seriously and the president likely felt that his volunteer efforts were under attack or simply not appreciated. In any event, the outcome of the conversation benefited neither the community nor the individuals involved.
When legitimate concerns exist, they must be explored. Sometimes the outcome of that due diligence requires the recall of a director or directors who are not acting in the community’s best interests. The same decision-making process might result in a resolution to pursue enforcement action against owners who fail to comply with the governing documents. However, some of these issues on both sides of the fence could be avoided or at least defused if people took their moms’ best advice and acted with a little more deliberation, tact and sensitivity.
If you live in a community association but do not serve on the board, when was the last time you thanked someone who is serving on the board? If you serve on a board, when was the last time you encouraged members to attend your meetings and thanked those who took time to show up and do just that? Experience shows that positions harden in the presence of antagonistic words and hostile demeanors.
Appreciation is a two-way street and if we had more of them in our communities, we would have fewer mishaps.