HOAs get a lot of complaints. It’s just the nature of the beast. Luckily we are all always at the top of our game and able to handle homeowner complaints with all the grace in the world, right? Ok, so maybe not always. The truth is that it’s difficult to handle complaints, especially when they are coming from a particularly difficult homeowner. We’ve put together some helpful tips to help you through it. Master these, and you’ll be handling complaints like a pro every time.
- Listen to understand, not to respond.
In any situation where two people disagree, it is important that both sides are listening in order to understand the other. It is hard to listen to someone when they are upset and taking it out on you, but this is key. Stay calm and really listen to what the homeowner is saying so you can gain a full understanding of why they feel so upset.
- Be empathetic.
Ever hear the phrase “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” Well in this case, it couldn’t be more true. Take the high road and do your best to put yourself in the homeowners’ shoes. In order to get through to an upset homeowner, they need to feel like you actually care about what they are saying. Listen and understand where they are coming from. Even if you don’t agree, by starting a sentence with “I understand why this makes you upset…” you are setting yourself up for a much more level-headed conversation where the other person feels heard.
- Educate and focus on the positive.
Many times, homeowners are upset about something simply because they are not well informed about something. Nobody wants to feel confused about what’s going on in their community. Is there something you can educate the homeowner about to help with their issue? If so, is there a positive spin you can put on the situation to help calm them down?
- Don’t ask why.
Many times, homeowners are upset because they didn’t know about a certain regulation. Be careful not to ask “why” in this situation as it can cause a homeowner to feel attacked and put them even more on the defensive. For example, if someone forgot to get approval for an exterior change and is upset about the violation letter they received about it, don’t ask them why they made the change without getting approval first. There is no point in asking the question after the fact. Stay focused on the issue at hand.
- Find common ground.
Find some point at which you and the homeowner can agree and build on that. Using the example from before, the homeowner didn’t get approval and is upset about the violation but he agrees that he should have gotten approval first. There is your common ground. Perhaps in this situation, to build on your common ground, you could offer to waive the fine if he submits for approval within the week.
Remember, the way you act has a direct impact on those around you. Choose to be a positive force, especially in situations where homeowners are upset.