5 Ways to Better Enjoy Your Community

by Jeremy Powers on June 30, 2010

Community is an idea that is increasingly used in conversation.  Every day you hear about the “online community,” “social networking,” (as if networking could be unsocial) “culture management,” and my favorite, “work/life balance.”  The problem with these phrases as they deal with the idea of community in individual silos. 

Your life is not a series of fragments:  online, offline, local, national, hobbies, work, family, etc.  The idea that each of these is an individual concern which should be allocated specific amounts of time each day is absurd.  Define your community as “everyone and every place I interact with.”  Now, commit to enjoying everyone and every place you interact with.  Make your community better.  Here are 5 ways you can better enjoy your community:

  1. Listen – The people you interact with every day are increasingly overwhelmed with information.  They do not want more information from you.  Conversation is not an art; it is a discipline.  Your goal should be spend at least 65% of the time spent on each conversation listening.  You will care about people more, and people will be more interested in talking with you, rather than at you.  (Yes, yes, I struggle terribly with this.)
  2. Smile – Text messaging and other electronic communications have really degraded your ability to properly physically react to other people.  You can tell when the person on the other end of the phone is smiling when they talk.  In person, on the phone, or online (emoticons), smiling matters.  “When your smilin’, when your smilin’, the whole world smiles with you.”
  3. Smile some more – You are living in an extraordinarily wealthy time.  Car broke down?  At least you had a car that could break down.  Sales are down?  Lucky for you all the information you need to figure out the problem is right at your finger-tips.  Just found out you have terminal cancer?  I envy your renewed perspective and appreciation for what is important.  No community likes a whiner.
  4. Give – Have you improved the life of anyone (other than yourself) today?  Making money for your heirs does not count.  Be generous in small ways, and your community will reciprocate.
  5. Play – You probably allocate very little time to play.  You give yourself vacations, maybe you have a hobby you talk about with co-workers.  Try this, reserve 30 minutes each day for play.  (not dirty, you scoundrel)  I am not talking about competitive sports; I am talking about cannonballs, wrestling with the children, and peeing your name in the snow.  You know, stuff you liked when you were ten years old.  Watching television, by the way, is not playing.  Communities like happy people, and happy people know how to have fun.

Try these 5 recommendations for a few days, and let me know what you find.

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