No one likes to deal with complaints, but it’s a part of almost any job. Regardless of how hard the HOA tries or how effectively it is run, it is impossible to please everyone all the time. The best thing you can do is take complaints and negativity as constructive criticism. Use it as a learning tool to initiate change that can help things to run more smoothly.
If someone speaks up with negative feedback, try to respond in a professional and beneficial way.
- Don’t get defensive. One of the worst things you can do is let your emotions get the best of you and fire back defensively. This only tends to make things worse. Keep a calm demeanor and take a deep breath before responding. Hear out the person and try to understand where they are coming from. Make sure you understand the issue and ask for clarification if anything is unclear. Misunderstandings or misinterpretations can result in unnecessary disagreements. Re-state what the person has said in your own words to make sure you understand what they are saying.
- Offer information. Generally, complaints stem from not having enough information, not having the right information, or not understanding what the information says. Explain the reasoning and thought process behind certain rules and regulations. Once the person understands where the board is coming from and why things are the way they are, it can reduce arguments.
- Encourage solutions. If the community member does not agree with certain rules, respectfully explain how to go about changing them. Let them know how they can be proactive and bring the issue up to the board using the proper channels. Then it can be discussed in more detail and actions can be decided upon. Decisions cannot be made on topics that are not part of the agenda.
- Acknowledge the issue and move on. Sometimes simply hearing the person out and acknowledging their view and opinion is all you can do. Thank them for their input and let them know that it will be taken under consideration. If action is necessary, don’t let it slip through the cracks. Show them that you are actively working on a resolution.
Try not to take negative feedback personally. Keep a positive attitude and strive to improve communication throughout the HOA to reduce potential problems. When homeowners are kept up-to-date and are actively involved, they feel more valued. Not every problem can be avoided, but clear and consistent communication, a positive outlook, and the willingness to explore opportunities for change can go a long way.