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Effective Communication In Your HOA

Written by on Tuesday, 11 October 2016 3:03 pm

Communication is both a skill and an art form. When babies cry, the motivation is to get their needs met. Meeting the needs of others is nowhere in a baby's method. While infant communication is primitive, it is highly effective. A crying baby gets fed, diapers changed, burped, etc. With maturity and training comes more sophisticated and usually less self-serving ways to communicate. Homeowner associations are charged with communicating with the members. The reasons for communicating vary including:

Socialization. As moderns become more isolated from each other, the need to find connecting points becomes more important. HOAs can provide a platform to coax members out of their isolation by offering volunteer opportunities and social functions. Introducing the members to new residents through newsletters grooms the connections as well. A Welcoming Committee not only provides the human touch, it can provide early warning about important HOA rules and regulations so that newcomers don't inadvertently get crosswise with the HOA from the get go.

Paying the Bills. There are few things more immediate and urgent than collecting HOA fees. Without money, HOA services suffer or are curtailed. Without money, maintenance lags and property values drop. So, getting 100% payment compliance is extremely important. While the hope is that it is done voluntarily, sometimes it must be coerced by legal means. But even when lawyers are brought into the matter, a carefully worded demand letter can produce quick results.

Getting Compliance. Every HOA has rules. Hopefully, those rules are few, necessary and not overly intrusive. When a rule is made, explaining the need for it and the goal in having it can go a long way to encouraging compliance rather than defiance. Whenever a rule is being contemplated, the board should always, always, always solicit member input. This tactic reduces the likelihood of challenge.

Communication comes in many shapes and sizes. The common ones include signs, newsletters, meeting minutes, postings, emails and the HOA's website. These communications can have a variety of meanings: to inform, to warn (rule violations), to invite (summer social) and to congratulate (kudos for a job well done).

The more the words, the less the meaning. When it comes to effective communication, less is more. Use words economically. This takes thought. In conversation, many words are used to test impact on the listener. So, in conversation, it's not uncommon for the same thing to be repeated with different words in an effort to embellish or give greater impact to the meaning being conveyed. If folks write the way they talk, their writings, would rarely get to read because they are an unending ramble. Without a careful selection of words, communications can be misinterpreted or ignored. So, effective writing requires careful thought because "an arrow, once loosed, cannot be retrieved".

Words have both strengths and weaknesses. One weakness of the written word is that it may be read by an unintended audience which doesn't have the background the writer needs to be understood. Another pitfall is that some of the audience may be prejudiced against the writer and refuse to understand the communication the way it's intended. These folks will actually take the message, add their own spin and circulate the "real story". A war of words ensues. The time and emotional energy it takes for damage control may discourage future communication altogether.

As it is written, "In the beginning, there was the Word." Words are with us forever. It's what we do with those words that make all the difference. Like blacksmithing, right wording takes hammering and shaping before the whole thought can take shape.

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  About the author, Richard Thompson

Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.