Every community is built around relationships.
A few months ago I was asked to participate in an event. When I was introduced to the person I would be sharing the event with I immediately discovered how long he had been there, where he had received his degree, his medical problems, where he had worked before coming to this location, about his wife, his children, etc. He would ask me a question and as soon I gave a brief answer it was on to how something similar had happened to him. He would not let me get a word in edgewise.
Granted I was infringing on his territory and he needed to establish his position, or at least he thought he did. If he was trying to make a friend it didn’t work.
Relationships are tough but they are at the heart of building a community. Community comes in various forms:
· The place where you live be it a neighborhood or small town
· Teachers building a community within a classroom
· Employees at their place of work
· Businesses with their employees and customers
· Churches with their members
· Organizations (thinking Elks) with their members
The list can be adapted and reworded to fit any situation but every community shares two common elements.
1) A common interest, which brings the group together.
2) A common goal that the group wants to achieve.
A few elements to keep in mind as a community grows and develops are:
· Developing Relationships. These have to be real relationships where you share your thoughts and objectives. This takes a lot of courage but when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable others respect and respond accordingly.
· Sharing Skills. Most communities have the skill sets within them which will allow them to accomplish their goals. Many communities fail because they do not know the skills of other members in the group.
· Spending Time Together. This is how the members get to know each other. This goes back to relationship building. It’s easier to build a relationship with someone you know. It is harder to know someone without spending time with them.
· Doing Something Together. There is a reason people come together usually around a common goal or objective. Work on that goal.
· Forming A Committee, Forming Two or Three Committees. Many times it is hard to have a designated leader without the leader taking control. By forming committees to evaluate conditions and make recommendations to the group, it takes away the power/pressure from a single individual, especially if the committees have rotating members.
· Being Respectful. Be kind to each other. Be nice to each other. It costs you nothing to be nice to someone. You have the choice of avoiding people, or dropping out of a gathering. But it costs nothing to be nice.
· Lifting Each Other Up. The objective of community building is solving a common problem with the result of making things better. The final result is to lift people up and make their lives better. If you are not helping people then your endeavor is doomed from the start.
· Nurturing Environment. The environment needs constant monitoring. If people find they are not comfortable or welcome they will stop being involved. Remember it takes numbers to accomplish our objectives and driving people away does not help.
· No Gossip. If you cannot say something good about someone then don’t say anything. Problems within the community need to be addressed, but it needs to be done with the minimum number of people involved. The problem also need to addressed in a respectful and courteous way directly with the person at the heart of the issue. Never speak around or behind their back.
· Win-Win Situations: Whenever we can create win-win situations. Relationships are enhanced because people feel encouraged that their voice has thoughtfully been heard. Enhanced relationships build a strong community.
I googled Community Building and was surprised at the number of sites out there which offer good advice. I’m not going to advocate for any in particular but as you look for guidance a word of caution. If the sites goal is forwarding an agenda and not focused on building a strong and secure community that lifts up and enhances those outside of the community itself, then I would shift away from their guidance .
Please leave a comment or send me a message. Thank You. Rob