Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shoot the messenger but hear the message

I really have to make it a habit to post more of these TED talks. They are really very good and can be helpful in making us all better at what we do. I think constructive criticism is good for everyone (myself included) but it works best when paired with a solution or at least a path to a solution.

We have too much at stake in our communities to lose it out to something as counterproductive as apathy and/or screaming at each other to get our points across.  We can disagree but for the love of baby animals can we please communicate effectively and listen to each other?! I have no doubts that we all have something important to say but can we please say it in a way that does not frame each other as enemies or assign a class system based on how long you have lived in a particular zip code? Last time I checked I was not exempt from bad things happening to me in my neighborhood because I took out a mortgage in 2007 as opposed to 1977. New homeowners are not impervious to bullets, crime, unemployment, or any other issue facing Ward 8. They should be encouraged to be engaged in the community and to attend meetings, volunteer, run for office, etc.  Older residents are not collectively put on earth to make things hard and difficult. If anything, I find my older residents to be just as committed (if not more so) to see things improve in the community. There should be a partnership between residents regardless of age, economic class, mortgage and rental terms.

If we are so busy fighting each other when do we find the time to work together? That is not a rhetorical question I am really asking, "When do we find the time to work together?" We can and should all serve but that requires putting our egos on the shelf and humbling ourselves -- all of us -- for the greater good.

I know some people may take some issue with my earlier post about ineffective community meetings and I am so okay with that. I meant what I said and I don't take it back. Shoot the messenger (okay, not literally) but hear the message! If we want to encourage people to be involved in a dialogue at community meetings we have to communicate more effectively. We should be encouraging people to present at community meetings, not discourage them from doing so because they will be verbally (and heaven forbid physically) assaulted the moment they open their mouth.  This is a real problem and it is keeping a lot of good people away from meetings and from getting involved in their communities. The screaming, name calling, and general adversarial nature of some meeting attendees (and facilitators) has got to stop.

It is one thing to be excluded from the conversation, it is entirely another thing to exclude ourselves from the conversation by presenting the perception that "we" are not approachable or reasonable. We should be nurturing collaborations, not nursing conflicts.

So if you have to give me the "gas face" in the next community meeting so be it but don't say someone didn't tell you the truth. You can judge how many people share my frustration by how many empty seats are in your next meeting. People voice their displeasure of bad meetings by staying home and eventually by moving somewhere else.  That seems like the last thing we would want to do when seeking community input or when trying to build a stronger Ward 8.

We all have something important to say but lets say it in a manner that allows us to hear each other and understand where we are all coming from. We can't do that by screaming and yelling at each other.  In the end if everyone is yelling who is really listening?

We should come out of these "community" meetings inspired, encouraged, and with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment for the success of the place we call home -- together.

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1 comment:

Carlene said...

Looking at the last ANC8A meeting (and the only I've attended as a newbie). I was thinking that a social hour would be helpful. There were many sidebar conversations as I think people were trying to catch up with each other, but the talking was distracting for me. I love socializing but when it comes to business meetings, I tend to get in business mode. I think this would also give everyone a chance to get to know each other outside of just talking about business.