Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Re-framing Expectations

Alexander Hamilton, the guy on the $10 bill (for now at least), authored much of the U.S. federal system.  In one of his writings (March 18, 1788) he said (paraphrased):  The representatives of the people sometimes fancy themselves as representing themselves, and become impatient and disgusted with the least sign of opposition from others, as if the exercise of someone else's rights infringes on their privilege and insults their dignity.

Unfortunately, we see this same mindset among some HOA Boards, and among some community association managers.  While these agents are tasked with representing a corporation (the homeowners association), not individual homeowners, it is easy to 'take it personal' when a homeowner challenges them.  Perhaps the homeowner doesn't have all the facts, or perhaps he has facts the agent needs to know.  As long as the homeowner isn't being abusive or using strong language, Board members and managers should hear him out.

Time not taken now becomes time & money taken next, under mandated arbitration.    Also, the views of future challengers are colored by how they see you treating the current ones.   You can expect respect when first you have shown it.  Not every person understands or agrees with a governing decision, but shutting the door on discussion should be your second or third action, not your first.
By the same token, everyone (homeowners, Board members, and managers) should start from the assumption that there is some validity to each assertion.  After thoughtful deliberation, you may discover that a person's expectations can't be reconciled with those of the community.  That doesn't make his position wrong, only wrong for the community.
 Sometimes you will find yourself in an endless loop with an upset homeowner.  Your attempts to bridge the gap failed.  Time to redirect your efforts to more productive Association business:  It is okay to end the conversation.  Just be sure it ends in a way that you would be proud to see reported in the news.

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