What I’m Listening To: Still listening to any jazz music I can find. Today’s playlist is this Apple Music gem: Jazz Soul Cafe.
What I’m Watching: I’m an MCU nerd, so I am committed to WandaVision.
Sunday is Valentine’s Day and I decided to draw a little inspiration from that fact. I’m talking nurturing and strengthening relationships today. Relationships saw a lot of challenges in the last 12 months. Not just personally but professionally. But relationships are so crucial to our communities. I truly believe the relationships in our communities are the key to a better future.
Connecting with your community (this includes residents and even your coworkers) is key to our local governments’ success. The connections we make can help create excitement about solving problems. A fresh, new perspective from someone outside of the usual circle of influence can generate new ideas that sit just outside of our mind space. And the positive relationships we build can bring new energy to the community.
Here are three ways that I am trying to make sure I continue to strengthen relationships in 2021 with those around me (even if we are still apart).
- Break down barriers to information. Don’t be selective with communications – you should be doing your best to keep your organization and your residents informed. If you don’t have a communications person on staff, you should seriously consider bringing someone to the table. Telling the story of your community is vital to the future. (This is my job, so I’m passionate about it, and I think every local government organization needs to be passionate about it). And you can’t expect people to stay informed if you haven’t put the information out there for them to consume. We can’t read each other’s minds, so breaking down that barrier will help us succeed.
- Put people first. Behind every complaint, every report, every problem, there is a person. This one has been hard for me. I sometimes feel I deal with angry and upset “trolls” more often than those who are happy with a project or initiative. So I have to remind myself that sometimes a planning project or new ordinance truly impacts people on a level I don’t fully understand. We’re in public service for a reason – shouldn’t that reason be the people we’re serving? I’m trying to put the people first and not just what’s most comfortable for me.
- Make recognition a way of life. I am trying to take the time to say thank you more. Whether it’s handwritten or verbal – a thank you can go a long way. And this isn’t just for community members. Thank your coworkers, your vendors, your agency partners. You don’t need to go around giving high fives and pats on the backs. But a well thought out thank you can make a difference. And will probably earn me a more engaged member of my community.