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Building a vibrant community is hard work

ELKINS — Building a vibrant community is hard work! Why? Because change is hard. It is always easier to continue along the same path — to not make waves. Plus, our new, electronic age creates an atmosphere where call to change is loud, quick, and imitating. Providing positive leadership to encourage change takes a lot of energy!

It is human nature to resist change. Creating a vibrant community means there will be setbacks and differences in opinion. In Quint Studer’s book, “Building a Vibrant Community,” four types of people are identified:

∫ Group 1 sees the community benefit right away. They are very much for the project. They come together for the common goal immediately. They are the positive people.

∫ Group 2 likes the idea with reservations. However, they get on board quickly once they learn the benefits.

∫ Group 3 leans toward not supporting an idea at the start. Maybe they’ve been let down in the past. Maybe they’re being fed misinformation or scare tactics.

∫ Group 4 is virtually against everything. They are the negative people.

When a proposed project is presented, two groups will be early voices – Group 1 who are for the project and Group 4 who are against the project. Moving any project forward requires a lot of community support and education.

What approaches should leaders take with the different groups? First, support Group 1 people who “get it” from day 1. They’re already on board. Second, talk with and encourage Group 2 people who are on the fence but see potential. “Connect the dots” by explaining the project and how it all ties together. For Group 3, the approach is to share facts and spend a little time and energy educating them. Everyone likes results, and this group will come along when the project is producing benefits.

Sadly, Group 4 folks are energy vampires. They do not like change at all. Be patient, listen and politely correct them on facts. You will probably never win over these folks. Stay professional; have one-on-one conversations. Look for consent rather than consensus. Don’t let pushback become personal. A solid project moves forward because of its merits. Most importantly, stay positive.

Elkins has the resources and opportunity to become a vibrant community. Working together, we can make it happen.

Through a generous gift by Tygart Valley Orthopedics, the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber has free copies of “Building A Vibrant Community” available to those who are interested.

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