The people who I see making the most progress in community building (at any level) are the ones who can effectively articulate the things that they are working toward, what they're for, and then get other people excited about different ways to make that happen.
The people who I see doing the most damage to community building efforts are the ones who only seem able to talk about the things they are against.
Maybe you recognize these different profiles?
- Is usually dreaming about ways to make something better
- Celebrates existing strengths and accomplishments as a foundation to build on
- Understands possibilities for the future, describes them well
- Lets their ideas evolve as they get feedback
- Connects with stakeholders and figures out how to help
- Engages through questions, observation and collaboration
- Is usually complaining about something
- Attacks people and personalities instead of constructively critiquing ideas and actions
- Believes everyone else is working against what they want
- Wants someone to blame
- Has a hard time getting specific about what should happen next
- Engages through arguments, accusations and conflict
Yes, it can be good to call out problems. Sometimes we have to say we're against something in order to be really clear about what we are for. And there are certainly going to be moments when we're out of good ideas and positive energy, and just need to express frustration or concern.
But when someone is only ever "against," and never "for," they can waste a lot of valuable time and energy, and get in the way of other efforts to make good things happen.
Paying attention to this dynamic and investing my own community building energy into being "for" something - and other people who are "for" something - has been helpful to me. What about you?
Photo by fosa.