One of the hardest things to do sometimes is to listen. It’s a challenge to shut out the other things grabbing at your attention and to focus on a single voice. But what makes it even harder is when the person you really want to hear from doesn’t talk.
I like to tell people that one of my tasks as a volunteer community manager is to listen to people. I listen a lot. The task is made more challenging when filtering through the “noise” and listening to the heart of those community members who might be more timid in sharing their opinion or less vocal in their thoughts.
Don’t Be Shy
Being shy is a character trait which I find myself struggling with constantly. I’m an introvert myself so it is a step outside my comfort zone to talk to someone else. I can relate to those feelings. But I encourage you when someone is looking for your opinion and your thoughts and they have specifically asked you to talk to them…don’t be shy. Find a way to communicate your opinion on a subject.
I want people to talk to me. I want especially the quiet community member to talk to me. Don’t be shy, I promise I won’t snap. I want to hear what you think about things, because you are important. Your opinion matters. A good community manager makes it easy for you to share without you worrying about the things which intimidate.
Pick Your Communication Channel
Not everyone likes to communicate verbally. There’s a variety of reasons for that and certainly there’s nothing which says that verbal communication is the only way to effectively communicate. Maybe you prefer email, social media, or IM, or forums, or some other medium (Have I mentioned I know sign language?). Whatever the way the goal is the same, share your thoughts.
As a community manager I try to make sure I’m available in as many ways as possible. And I’m always looking for other ways. Just yesterday I was exploring a new chat application I now have an account there and am looking forward to offering another way for people to get in touch.
Sometimes the problem is not being shy or not finding the right communication channel. Every once in a while the problem is being indirect. Subtweeting is the latest phenomena in this type of communication. The idea behind this is indirectly approaching a subject, saying something without really saying something. It means not sharing the information that matters with the right people. Or sharing the wrong information to the right people. (Saying things so obtusely that even though the person you’re speaking to can control the situation they have no idea you’re seeking action).
This idea involves boldness and courage. Not brazen or public ridicule. Not a false bravado. And certainly not an attempt to make others look stupid so you look better. Being direct may mean handling a situation in private, where no one sees.
Share Your Passion
There are few things I find more exciting then listening to someone talk about something they are passionate about. The excitement is almost tangible and I find myself quickly drawn in by the enthusiasm they share. When someone is asking you to talk to them then you have the perfect opportunity to share your passion. I love it when someone stops me and wants to talk to me about something which interests them. Sometimes it’s in their business life, in their personal life, or in the community we share. Regardless of the area I still share in their excitement.
I want to hear what interests you. Good community managers care about their community. Great community managers care about the people in their community . This means caring about the person and what matters to them…beyond the community. I want to be a great community manager.
In case you can’t tell – I want you to talk to me! I want to hear your thoughts and your opinions. I want to enable and empower you to do more and to find your “voice”. Your voice is important and your voice needs to be heard. Don’t stew over things or hold your opinions to yourself. Our communities will only get better if everyone participates. Share your views. Together we can make our community the best it can be. Because together we can make each other the best we can be.