One of the trademarks of a community is that each member has a place where they feel accepted and important. Naturally some member tend to be more vocal and involved while others choose to remain in the background. The goal, however, is that each member feels comfortable getting involved and valued when they choose to speak up.
This trait takes time and effort to cultivate in a community, but by following a few simple guidelines, the difficult becomes reality.
1. Make it clear, both verbally and in writing, that each member is welcome and expected to contribute and participate.
Some people will talk regardless of the rules, some people will not talk regardless of the rules, and some are still on the fence. Consistently emphasizing the need for participation inspires those in the last group to contribute their voices and their energy more actively to the community.
2. Invite the quietest members to participate.
This can be tricky as many people get extremely uncomfortable being put on the spot, but there are several ways to get around this. The objective is to give people the option to talk — an option that does not include having to interrupt to volunteer information. Achieving this could include…
- …giving each member a specifically scheduled opportunity to participate.
- …creating small group or one-on-one interaction.
- …offering options for participation that do no require public speaking.
Offer numerous options — these and any other creative ideas fit your unique community, explicitly ask which one appeals most to each member, and follow up, ensuring that each member does indeed participate in their prefered manner..
3. Explain why some ideas are accepted and what happens to the other ideas.
Speaking up, only to have your ideas rejected could scare away more timid members from future participation. The key is communication.
- Thoroughly understand their ideas.
- Work together to find ways to incorporate them into the broader project.
- Carefully explain why certain ideas do not work.
Individual communication between community leaders and members ensures understanding and inspires confidence — and future participation.
It is impossible to maintain full contact with each group member at all times, but building the foundation on these guidelines ensures that each member of the community knows that their voice is heard and valued. Remember WIC:
We hope you found this article helpful and if you want to give building your community a shot, swing by our site and we’ll help you get started!