How to make community decisions when there is deafening silence from your HOA Board

How often are we in situations with our HOA where we need a decision to be made quickly so that we can advance with our lives? Having decisions not go our way sucks, but to have no decision at all is 10 times worse. What do you do? How do you proceed?

Today I want to touch base on how to make community decisions without your HOA’s participation.

Now I know you’re saying that you’re not a divisive person and that you don’t want to cause trouble, but you’d be surprised at how much you can achieve without going on the offensive. And no, don’t go joining the HOA board so that you can push through your agenda. Here are three or four things you could try.

1. Talk to board members individually. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten in my career has been to convince decision makers one on one before you have them all in a room. Listen to their objections and ask them how you could help them overcome their objections. Hopefully by the time they get together to vote on your proposal, they’re already voting yes.
2. Now if you’re in a large HOA and don’t have access to your board members, I would suggest you run a survey with your fellow owners. Focus on the people affected by your proposal but make sure you have concrete, unbiased data from more people than just yourself. A good idea might be to survey people that you feel are very active in your community. If your word won’t count, perhaps others’ will.
3. If a survey is not quite what you feel like doing, then I would recommend conversation. I know how it feels when you really want something done, you tend not to listen, but do all the talking. We go into selling mode before we’ve given other points of view any credence. People want to feel heard, let them speak. Even if you get an emphatic No, there’s always a point at which someone is willing to reconsider. Your job is to find that point.
4. Know your fallback plan. I often think of this as the scene in a movie where someone is held at gun point, with their backs facing a cliff. They argue like there is no tomorrow because there is no backup plan. This only increases the level of desperation in your efforts and believe me, when you’re desperate, people are more likely to resist you. It’s just human nature.

Let me end off with a story I read just a few days ago about a family who wanted to put up a fence to protect their dog and small child. Their proposal was rejected by the HOA. After more due diligence, they submitted a second proposal which fell on deaf ears. Despite their efforts, the HOA did not tend to their proposal and so they decided to start the project. Well, only a few weeks after completion, the HOA informed them that they would be suing the family over their upgrade. In talking to the neighbor it was clear that they were under a completely different impression of what was going on.

Communication is key. I find that when we really want something we suddenly consider our neighbors or the entire HOA as a stumbling block towards us getting the upgrades that we want. It is understandable. We are all fighting for our space under the sun. But I want to suggest a more non intuitive way… and that is to consider all your neighbors allies! How would that change your perspective?

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