Disputes and disagreements between board members, residents, community managers, staff members, and business partners are an inevitable part of living in a community association. While generating an atmosphere of kindness and respect might seem easier said than done, it can make for a more collaborative and positive environment for all. Being nice can really pay off.
Most of us have had the importance of being mindful and respectful of others instilled in us from our parents, grandparents, mentors or others in our lives. Some of us have to practice at it more than others. Men, especially, although not exclusively, thought being nice would be perceived as a weakness, but it really is a very, very valuable strength. More and more company leaders are realizing that the main reason people leave their jobs nowadays is because they don’t feel acknowledged or respected by their immediate boss, not because of money.
It doesn’t appear that there are enough people out there, enough leaders out there, who are really espousing this belief that being nice is really a tool for success. You are not filling people’s champagne glass. You are not a doormat. It is a fine strength when you can allow people in to collaborate. At the end of the day, people will work much harder if they feel acknowledged and if they feel like part of the process.
The same applies to community associations. The codes of civility are a great way to guide people toward a path of being nice to one another. You can’t have a culture, or an association, or a group of homeowners who feel comfortable with each other if incivility is allowed, if disrespect is allowed. But actions always go beyond words, and community associations can practice what they preach in simple ways. If you have a code that says you have to be civil with each other, and you interrupt people and you’re rude to people at a meeting, well what are you really saying?
Practicing kindness should be done across every part of the leadership in a community association, from the director, to the board members, to the community manager, who likely has the most front-facing role. It starts from the ground up, and that’s what is needed to instill in everybody, that you’re only as good as that single person. In addition, you have to make sure to hone your listening skills. Listening is such a huge part of creating a culture where people are nice to each other, where people are kind to each other, because they feel like they are being heard. Listening is also critical to creating empathy and connecting with people.
Always tell the truth, no matter how difficult that may be. But you have to do it in a way that has a certain amount of kindness, because if somebody says something that shows anger, for example, you have to put your head on their shoulders. Empathy also comes into play here. When people interact with you, they’re bringing other issues and problems that they are not discussing with you to that conversation. The other thing is that you can deflect a lot of tension with humor. When we make another person laugh, we are basically creating a bond. It’s important to use humor in a way that says “It’s going to be OK.”
This is an excerpt from “The Power of Nice."