Sign by: Ronnie Polaneczky, 2015 TEDxPhiladelphia speaker and columnist at The Philadelphia Daily News.
In at least 50% of the member interviews that I conduct, across all the associations I’ve worked with, the interviewee thanks me for interviewing them. “Thank you for doing this work”, they say or “I’m sure you are getting paid for this but, thank you” or “when I signed up for this I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into but this has been a great experience” or “this has been a really valuable conversation, thank you!”
Even more surprising, nearly every 5th interviewee says something along the lines of you really listened to me. Every time this happens, I am surprised.
On second thought, perhaps this is not so surprising. How often are we really heard? How often do others ask for our opinion? How often do our opinions even matter?
When was the last time a friend or a family member asked about your thoughts? What about the companies that you spend thousands of dollars with? What about an association you belong to? I’m not talking about a survey. I’m talking about a real conversation. Surveys don’t make us feel heard, they feel like more bureaucracy. Conversations, real conversations, can be a delight.
When I started this work I felt like members were doing my association client (and me) a favor by agreeing to talk with me – for one hour in some cases! Now I understand there is a more reciprocal give and take. There’s a benefit for the interviewees too. They have the time to share their opinions, to be heard and to be introspective. They also get to contribute to the association. While their association is important or even good, they want the association to be better. Giving feedback, feedback that might just be acted on feels important and it feels good.