HOA pres­i­dent can’t calm down callers

Times Standard (Eureka) - - BUSINESS - Amy Dick­in­son

DEAR AMY » I’m pres­i­dent of my Home Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, and gen­er­ally en­joy the job in our 282unit com­mu­nity.

I’ve no­ticed that ever since our area went on shel­ter-in­place, I’ve re­ceived sev­eral calls where the home­owner was ex­tremely ag­i­tated. Of­ten, they be­gin the con­ver­sa­tion at high vol­ume and also half­way through their sen­tence.

I’m guess­ing that this ag­i­ta­tion is coro­n­avirus-re­lated and has lit­tle to do with what’s hap­pen­ing in our com­mu­nity.

Any sug­ges­tions on how I can calm down these callers? — HOA Helper

DEAR HELPER » I ap­pre­ci­ate your ques­tion, and what you are try­ing to do for your com­mu­nity mem­bers.

Dur­ing “nor­mal” times, your en­gi­neer­ing skills are prob­a­bly an ideal fit when ful­fill­ing your im­por­tant func­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, these times call upon all of us to prac­tice new skills.

You would be wise to al­ways keep in mind how anx­ious many peo­ple are right now, even if you are not.

Anx­i­ety has a way of scram­bling the thought process, as well as mag­ni­fy­ing prob­lems un­til they can seem over­whelm­ing.

Take a breath be­fore you take a call. Lis­ten with­out com­ment­ing or in­ter­rupt­ing. Do not tell some­one to “calm down” (this sort of di­rec­tive leads some peo­ple to be­lieve that they are not be­ing heard or un­der­stood). Your “lis­ten­ing pos­ture” should be calm, af­fir­ma­tive, and sup­port­ive:

“I can tell you’re up­set. I’m sorry this is hap­pen­ing. I know it’s hard.”

When ap­pro­pri­ate, you could ask, “How can I try to help you?”

Be hon­est in your re­sponses. If a prob­lem is well be­yond your func­tion as HOA pres­i­dent, you should say so. If ap­pro­pri­ate, you could also ask peo­ple to fol­low up with an email, in or­der to have a writ­ten record of their con­cern.

You do not want to be­come the repos­i­tory of com­mu­nity gos­sip or dis­cord, but if it helps oth­ers for you to be some­thing of a sound­ing board, you would be serv­ing an im­por­tant func­tion. Think of this as mas­ter­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of en­gi­neer­ing.

DEAR AMY » Like thou­sands of oth­ers who have loved ones in nurs­ing homes and other health care fa­cil­i­ties, we haven’t been able to see our 89-year-old mom since March.

She was in good health and men­tally sharp un­til Jan­uary. She’s been back and forth be­tween the hos­pi­tal and re­hab many times since then.

Some­one from the fam­ily was with her ev­ery day un­til the lock­down. This is a night­mare for us.

Well-mean­ing friends call to ask how mom is do­ing, and then pro­ceed to give ad­vice, and - worse — de­scribe sim­i­lar events lead­ing up to their moth­ers’ deaths.

I’ve had to tell them to stop. I can’t talk about some­one dy­ing right now. I am grate­ful for their friend­ship, but I am worn out and heart­sick. — Please Stop

DEAR PLEASE » This is heart­break­ing. Yes, please stop.

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