When our kids are young, we give them lots of positive feedback. We praise them for working hard, thinking of others, and for showing resilience. But positive feedback falls off the cliff when most of us move out of the house and become adults.
Spouses rarely tell each other what a great spouse they are being.
Friends rarely tell each other what a great friend they are being.
Kids rarely tell their parents what great parents they are being.
Bosses rarely tell their direct reports what great teammates they are being.
Adulting is lonely stuff.
Some adults are lucky. We find a job, or hobby, or a role where we are truly at home. Where we can fully express ourselves and where we are seen as we really are. Many of us are less lucky. Many professionals report feeling ignored, invisible, and lonely. Even CEO’s in very prominent positions feel lonely. There is no one like them at their organization. Most of us feel this way. There is no one like me at my organization.
A basic need for all of us is to be seen.
We are getting used to the most prominent companies “seeing” us in a very superficial way. Netflix asks who is watching by name. Most websites show you have logged in by replacing “my account” with “[first name’s] account.” Big online retailers try to make you feel seen by tracking your browsing and purchase history to recommend items they think you will like. All of these tactics are just one small step toward being seen. The technology will keep getting better, but for now, the experience is lacking.
And this is good news for associations. Associations are better positioned than just about any other organization to fulfill our member’s need to be seen. Most associations already partially deliver on this promise. Members often say the first value they received from their association was when they realized they were not alone. This is a great first step, and there is more to be done.
How can we change the way we welcome, interact with members, and provide value to them to let them know we really see them?