Most of the time we don’t communicate, we just take turns talking. – Dr. Robert Anthony
When did we stop listening to everyone else’s voice except our own? Last night I attended my first HOA meeting about trees. I’ve lived in this quiet, quaint and sometime 2nd home sunny neighborhood for over 7 years. Gated community. Safe. Sleepy. Some people were there to say they wanted the high maintenance trees taken down…others came to “save the trees” from eminent death. Everybody had an opinion and a voice – some louder than others, some emotional, some angry, some totally off-topic. But the lesson that I took away from this 70 minutes of talking was that it was just that – talking.
Here are the lessons that I learned from this encounter and that I will not soon forget…
- Landscaping doesn’t make a neighborhood. People make the neighborhood. No matter how grand the trees may be and no matter what appeal they may add, it’s the people in the neighborhood that make you feel safe and happy to be there.
- Neighbors do not always act neighborly and people are not always what they seem.
- People take things way too personally.
- The art of communication is dying…and nobody is listening.
As an additional highlight to my lesson was this piece of news. The meeting began with an update of a home invasion of a 77 year old man from the night before who was lucky to be alive…but instead of talking about watching out for each other and keeping our homes safe, we fought about foliage. What does this say about us as a people…when we stop seeing our neighbors as anything other than noise? When did we stop listening to each other and how do we start again?