We think of Christmas as a Christian celebration don’t we - but it is more than that.
In Australia, no matter what religious beliefs we have, or do not have, we tend to treat the end of December and early January as a holiday period.
- It’s a time when we wind down a little, take some time off, relax and recharge, and
- A time when we perhaps turn our focus outwards a little, away from the grind of our endless lists of things to do and daily stresses, and see what’s going on around us.
How’s the ambience in your strata community?
When you live in close proximity to your neighbours in an apartment complex, there will always be little issues which arise, and can affect the ambience and harmonious atmosphere of your sanctuary – your home.
It may be pets, parking or noise issues, or even body corporate administration actions – or lack of actions - that are getting you down.
The summer holiday break is the perfect time to take stock and see if there’s a different way to resolve problems and make a contribution towards ensuring that you and everyone gets along and respects each other’s needs.
Here’s a few ideas worth considering. The many benefits of trying these out are included towards the end.
1. Organise a residents party
Speak to your Committee about organising a get together for the residents of your Strata Community. This could be an afternoon tea, cocktails by the pool or a sausage sizzle. Provide some music, low cost food and soft drinks, and ask people to BYO alcoholic drinks. Set a start and finish time so it doesn’t get out of hand.
Have someone orate a short welcome and encourage all to introduce each other, or do the intros with a short “Hi, I’m Ann, no 12” and move it around so everyone introduces themselves and breaks the ice.
This should be about people, not politics. It’s a chance for residents to put faces to the names that appear on the strata committee minutes; to say hello to the man in the wheelchair; to find out the name of the owner of the cute dog and ask if you could take it for a walk one day. It’s a time to get know your neighbours a little. They’re all human beings with hopes and dreams, and problems and issues, just like you. Some of them you may find extremely charming and interesting. You never know!
2. Throw an orphans Christmas lunch
Many people are lonely on Christmas Day. They may have no family nearby, or be away from friends, and might not want to venture out for an expensive meal by themselves at Christmas time. Christmas Day is one of the most depressing days of the year for many people, no matter what your religious beliefs or circumstances are. It’s the one day of the year when people make an effort to visit family and are often not available for friends.
Why not put up a light-hearted notice in common areas and announce an “Orphans Christmas lunch” for people of any age or religion to come join you. Hold it in an appropriate common area, or nearby park which all can easily access, and invite everyone to bring a plate and a drink.
3. Look out for people who may need help
If organising get-togethers doesn’t do it for you cause you’re a bit shy or not comfortable in large groups, think about what you could do to make someone’s day. A bit like pay it forward – a nice friendly “no strings” gesture that someone will really appreciate.
- Smile and say good morning or good afternoon to everyone in the complex that you see for a whole day, or even a week! Smiling is contagious and lifts peoples’ spirits.
- Offer to help a person who’s not too mobile with their shopping, or put their rubbish out.
- If you know of someone in the complex who will probably be alone on Christmas Day – a single person or perhaps an elderly couple, or someone who’s had a troubled time – give them a small box of chocolates or even a hand-written card. It may be the only thing they receive, or the only contact they have on the day.
4. Make the peace
If a resident or tenant has been parking in your spot or in the visitor’s carpark regularly and driving you crazy, why not put a Happy Holidays card on their windscreen with a heartfelt warm friendly hand-written note wishing them all the best for Christmas and the New Year. It’s hard to continue to do the wrong thing to someone when they have been nice to you.
Why are some people difficult?
It’s no surprise that when people with different backgrounds, needs, values, and ideas of what's acceptable come together to live in close proximity, there are going to be disagreements and tensions.
In just about every complex, and on every committee, there is at least one or more people who can be, well, irritating. They might be just plain grumpy, they might do annoying things, they might ignore you and everyone else, or they might be the type that’s full of their own importance and be intimidating or outright bullies.
More often than not, there’s an underlying cause for their unreasonable behaviour. You can put your point of view, you can tackle them head on, you can round up support to get something done, or you can ignore it and simmer away in private.
In the end, every one of us prefers to deal with people we like, trust and respect. And we like it when people treat us with respect and courtesy.
So it’s worth considering these irritating people behave like they do.
- What if it turned out that the grumpy person is like that because he’s in pain or has personal issues?
- What if the person who ignores everyone is incredibly shy, or autistic, or experiencing grief?
- What if the self-important bully is actually very lonely and has no family or friends and this is how they get attention? Or their partner is in the background bullying them and they react by showing “strength” with others?
Why bother with them?
Because you never know, a smile or small gesture of help, or someone being friendly might make a big difference to someone’s state of mind and attitude.
Of course it might not, either, but most people respond favourably to kindness, and not at all well to confrontation.
A get-together will not only help with building community spirit, but is an opportunity to understand each other a little better.
And when connections are made, common interests discovered, and it’s done in the spirit of good intentions and seasonal cheer, you have the right environment and opportunity to repair and reconcile differences.
You never know – you could meet new friends, that parking culprit might feel guilty and park somewhere else, and that Committee member might just listen to your suggestions.
From all the team at Tower Body Corporate, we wish everyone who lives in a Strata Community lots of happiness and harmony during the festive season, and prosperity in the New Year.