Tips for Surviving Holiday Stress
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed this time of year. Stress affects everyone differently, but here are some tips to help managers and their communities effectively deal with this very busy season and the conflict that often arises. I hope they help you manage the stress of the holiday season and help you to have a more effective and successful community.
Communicate. Secrecy often breeds contempt. If managers and board members are not actively keeping members up to date on news within the community, members may feel as though something is happening behind their backs. Distrust is never a good thing and will only result in additional stress and conflict. Send out e-blasts, post notices in common areas, and invite members to attend board meetings so you can help them feel informed about what is happening. I’ve never had community members complain about receiving too much communication from their board or management company.
Focus on the important things. Find out what matters most to your community. Ask for feedback from your members about the items that concern them and determine what actions to take to address those issues. Find out what makes your members happy, too. My community has a newsletter article featuring the pet of the month. Anyone can submit information, and we all enjoy seeing and reading about our neighbors’ pets. It makes everyone smile. Your members will take notice that you have their needs in mind and will appreciate it.
Adopt a civility pledge, and adhere to it. Community associations are filled with people who have different values, ideals, and inclinations. That’s what makes community associations so wonderful. You should be able to talk about these differences, listen to each other, and yes, even disagree with each other in a civil manner. Adopting a civility pledge to guide communication expectations for your association sets the standard with your members. It shows members how you will handle communication and encourages them to do the same. Go to www.caionline.org/CivilityPledge for a sample.
Slow down. We all get overwhelmed and, often, the hardest thing to do is to slow down or tell someone “no.” If you are already feeling overwhelmed or overburdened, take some time to consider what’s being asked of you before you accept additional responsibilities. This may mean reducing items on the agenda at a membership or board meeting, talking with a supervisor or colleague regarding assistance, or having a conference with the association attorney regarding ways to conduct association business that may ease some of the burdens on managers and board members. Ask colleagues and others in the industry what they do to manage their workload. There are many professionals who work in this industry who have been where you are and are ready and willing to offer some advice or assistance to help you succeed.
Give thanks and be willing to apologize. “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” are words that I don’t often hear anymore, and I believe they can make such a difference. If you’ve done something wrong, apologize for it. Sincerely. If someone has done something good or kind, thank them. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and valued, and these are a few words that can go a long way toward helping avoid stress and conflict.
Cynthia A. Jones is an attorney at Sellers Ayers Dortch & Lyons in Charlotte, N.C.