Community Association Management, Conflict, Real Estate

Conflict as Sport

Conflict

Is it possible that some people enjoy sowing seeds of discord, creating conflict and drama, or setting a “small brush fire” with partial truths, and then standing back while the fire takes hold? I submit that indeed there are. In my experience, some people need drama. If it is not happening; they will create it. What drives this type of behavior, and how is it manifested in community associations?

There has been a steady coarsening of the American culture, and we need not look much further than our local, and national elections to see how polarized our country is at this stage in our nation’s history. Community associations are microcosms of the larger outside political, social and cultural climate we are currently experiencing. There is an undefined mistrust of the board of directors, committees, management, neighbors, vendors, guests and even the delivery people!

There is, and will always be, a small percentage of the population inside and outside of community associations who are chronic complainers, malcontents and troublemakers. It’s a given; however, recently I have become aware of a new adaptation of agitator that seems to engage in conflict as sport, entertainment and amusement.

This new-to-me type of rabble-rouser automatically takes the opposite position on virtually any subject almost before it is completely uttered! There is an almost perceptible crouching,…tensing of the body as one is communicating a position. Before the last syllable is out of one’s mouth the other party is immediately dismissive and proceeds to outline the reason for rejecting the offer, solution or compromise often without any background information or relative experience on the issue! It is utterly fascinating. I am sure I am the only one who is experiencing this kind of exotic behavior. [Sigh].

I had just such an experience recently. The argument against my proposed solution to a problem was immediately discounted as too expensive and time-consuming, although I had not yet shared either the cost analysis or the completion timetable. I stood there in stunned disbelief; shaking my head trying to comprehend what was happening. As I looked at the other party, it became evident that this was a duel (no swords, or feather hats, mind you) of wills. I promptly surrendered. “The decisions are all up to the Board of Directors” I said. If I make a suggestion and it is declined, I simply make a note for the record and move on.

No bruised ego, no whining, no contest.

Their disappointment was palpable. What? No argument; no pushback (no sport)? Nope. My response was: “You win. Let’s talk again when you’re ready.”

Next.

Endeavor to persevere.

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Community Association Management, Real Estate

Before You Store. . . . .

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As the manager of a high-rise condominium association, I have frequent conversations with owners who complain about the limited storage available outside of their units. In some buildings, there is assigned storage, common area “open” storage (generally on a first come; first served basis) offering little or no security and, the mechanical closets, stairwells and on balconies which should be off-limits!

The owners who improperly store paint, flammables, clothes, cleaning supplies, food, linens, boxes, and other various and sundry items may create a risk liability for the other owners and the association.

In fairness, many owners have moved to a condominium from a single family residence, and parting with their treasured possessions is difficult. If they have been in their prior home for decades, it is even more difficult to identify what stays and what goes.

Why are we compelled to keep so much stuff? When did it become “a thing”? The concept of self-storage started around the late 1960’s and became popular in the 1970’s. Rather than being a temporary convenience, self-storage has become a place where we pay a fee to store our belongings often with no real plan of using them again. Why do we pay rent for our material possessions? It’s like paying for them over and over and…..well, you get the message.

I understand the dilemma. This blog is not to admonish you for storing your treasures. I merely want to provoke you to consider carefully what to store; before you store.

 

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Community Association Management, Real Estate

Press Your Pause Button

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It is effectively the (unofficial) end of summer. What is your current state of mind? It is likely that you are feeling overworked, overwhelmed and underappreciated. As managers, we work hard to achieve and maintain a high level of productivity, accessibility and accountability. If we have neglected to take time off to relax and recharge, we may be experiencing a greater sense of anxiety because we are nearing the end of the calendar year having neglected to take our earned time off….again. Is there nobility in skipping lunch, missing workouts, cancelling dates or worst of all; not taking any vacation time?

As we approach the last quarter of the year, perhaps we should consider pressing the pause button. What have you been putting off for a “better time”? Today is a great day to make a plan before the busy holiday season is upon us! Invest your time wisely with those who really matter to you. Have been making your work priorities more important than your family, faith and friendships? Wrong order.

Grab a calendar. Choose some dates and coordinate them with your loved ones. Make memories. Relax, reconnect and recharge. The work will be there when you return, and you will be better able to manage the tasks yet to come.

Endeavor to persevere.

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Community Association Management, Property Maintenance, Real Estate

Today’s Enemy May Be Tomorrow’s Ally-Stay Neutral!

This is an important lesson for community manager’s to remember. You will occasionally be on the receiving end of a homeowner, guest or vendor’s anger. There will times when you will serve as the proverbial punching bag for their disappointment, failure, frustration or misunderstanding. They may hold you responsible for something they perceive as your fault. You will become the object of their discontent (you may be a proxy for the real person, or thing that is actual problem).

In these instances, stay frosty. Keep your cool! Let them vent (momentarily) and try to get to the root of the problem. Tell them that you hear them, and repeat what they have said to you so they hear their words parroted back to them. Lower your voice, tone, pace, and volume to reduce the “heat” in the conversation.

This method works well most of the time. Generally people just want to be heard and validated. Do your best to stay neutral and let it roll off like “water off a duck’s back”.

Don’t take it personally. Stay neutral. Do your job and keep it moving.

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