Our neighborhood has been experiencing water service interruptions for the past week.
These interruptions are also taking a toll on small businesses selling cooked meals and baked goods in the neighborhood.
For these businesses, water interruptions during the day could lead to longer times in preparing food and washing their cookware. There’s also the possibility of poor hygiene because of the lack of running water.
Meet the BODs
For a quick background, we have a homeowners’ association, and a new set of homeowner’s association officers are chosen each year. They call themselves BODs or Board of Directors.
Two days ago, one of the BODs (let’s call her BOD 1) lamented on the homeowners’ Facebook group that a couple of homeowners who are in the small food business are blaming the BODs for the “lack of action” to the water service interruption problem. She shared that it’s unfair for other homeowners to say that they’re not doing anything when they are working on a fix “behind the scenes”.
I commented on BOD 1’s post that her concern would likely be addressed if the BODs can provide regular updates about the problem on our Facebook group page.
Specifically, I suggested that the negativity and call-outs that we’ve been experiencing in our community can be avoided if they can give us an update of the problem’s progress, and a rough estimate of how long it would take for the people-in-charge to address the issue.
When homeowners are informed about what’s going on (and whether or not the people-in-charge are doing something about the problem), “grumpy” homeowners are less likely to call the BODs out and put the blame on them.
She sent me a message privately sharing that the BODs are too busy to post updates on our Facebook group.
Words (supposedly) to the rescue!
The lack of communication from our BODs (even from the old BODs) is an old problem as far as I can remember.
As a result, there has been an “invisible conflict” vibe between the BODs and the rest of the homeowners. You can read it between the lines of posts and comments on our Facebook Group.
A month ago, I sent a message to another BOD (let’s call her BOD 2) that I can help with this “lack of communication” as a word person.
Wearing my UX writer hat, I shared an “information dissemination template” and formula that the BODs can use whenever a problem arises in the neighborhood.
Apart from helping inform the neighborhood of ongoing problems, the formula will also benefit the BODs because it will:
- save them time in writing problem-related announcements
- avoid “grumpy homeowners” from calling them out about their supposed inaction
Here’s what the formula looks like:
- Acknowledge the problem.
- Share what has been done so far to address the problem.
- Provide a timeline of when the problem will (likely) be fixed.
- Ask for help. Brainstorm with the community.
- Inform the community on when they’ll hear back from you again (tomorrow the same day, two days later?) for an update of the issue.
And here’s the template I shared.
There are two versions (Cebuano and English) because I noticed that some of the homeowners are non-Filipinos, and you can’t really rely on Facebook’s translations.
It seems like my suggestion about the template + formula fell on deaf ears. Over Facebook chat, BOD 2 said thanks with a promise that she’s going to talk to the other BODs about my proposed template. No word from her until now.
I even told BOD 2 that I was open to suggestions if they want me to make changes to the template and formula.
Now, as you read earlier, BOD 1 was crying foul about grumpy homeowners in the neighborhood. The homeowners’ reaction isn’t a surprise because the BODs aren’t correctly communicating the issue.
If the BODs would only realize how words can have a significant impact on how people in our community would perceive what they do as folks who are supposedly looking after our neighborhood’s welfare. Words matter.
The same goes for brands, companies, and organizations who think that words are only words, and asks copywriters — can you write something catchy?*
*Legend has it that Death takes a kitten’s life every time someone asks a copywriter, “can you write something catchy?”