A Moment of Recognition

A couple of recent blogposts have tumbled together in my mind for the last few days and it is time to bring to light an extraordinary effort by a friend and fellow blogger.

On September 20 I blogged about being a volunteer and asked readers about their volunteer experiences. We all seemed to agree that we took volunteer jobs to enjoy the company of folks with similar interests or to do our part in our community or to meet new people.

About the same time, friend and blogger Elizabeth Cottrell posted “In Praise of Courtesy” on her blog. The essence of courtesy is to treat other people as we would like to be treated.

As regular readers of my travel blog At Home…On the Road are aware, my husband and I sold our house in the Shenandoah Valley earlier this year. We share a common hobby with Elizabeth and her husband and were for several years members of an organization associated with that hobby. Sometime last year actions were taken by the board that upset a number of us. My response was to drop my membership, as I was busy in another organization and wasn’t going to have time to do my part to try to remedy the situation in the club.

We are now 3000 miles away but keep hearing bits and pieces about ongoing problems. Rumor had it that the behavior of several members had deteriorated to something decidedly less than courtesy. How bad could it get?

This week we found out. My husband, still a member of the club, had the draft of the minutes of the last meeting in his inbox the other evening. Oh my…ohhh my! Twice as many people as usual, officers resigning, bylaws being referenced, heated discussions, and who knows what all. Because the secretary was on vacation, Elizabeth was asked to take the minutes.

I was not there, and have not talked directly to anyone who was, so I don’t know how far the proceedings strayed from courtesy, dignity, and civility. But from what she wrote, we can see the meeting did not go well. It seems that quite a few forgot that simple rule of treating others as they would wish to be treated.

In what had to be one of her most difficult writing assignments ever, Elizabeth did a remarkable job maintaining neutrality and reporting the proceedings with dignity and yes, a considerable dose of courtesy.

My nomination for the highest award “In Praise of Courtesy” goes to Elizabeth Cottrell for an amazing job, exceptionally well done.


6 thoughts on “A Moment of Recognition

  1. Denise Hisey says:

    Sounds like a challenging situation for all, Esther. It isn’t hard to imagine Elizabeth being the perfect one to pull off being courteous even in the most difficult circumstances. She has a delightful and purposeful attitude.


  2. Denise, you are right about Elizabeth. I’m lucky to know her in person. And after this weekend, I’ll be able to say the same about you. Really looking forward to it.


  3. karenrsanderson says:

    Challenging is right! I’m still a member of my NM condo board, and though the board members are courteous, listen to alternative ideas, and compromise, the tenants are sometimes argumentative -thinking not of the property as a whole, but what they selfishly want for themselves. And personal attacks are not unheard of. Personal attacks have no place in group meetings and do nothing to promote community. I applaud this blog and Elizabeth’s too!


    • I have found that often the biggest fights are over misunderstandings that nobody takes the time to work through. My hat is off to those people who can bring warring factions together and help each to see the other’s point. I agree that personal attacks have no place in group meetings…grow up already!


  4. Being a volunteer is, for the most part, a selfless and wonderful way to ‘give’ to the community. But being a volunteer does not inoculate us from human vanity, jealousy, and need for power, unfortunately. All that can be seen in a corporate boardroom can be seen in a room full of volunteers also. Dang. That’s why a good manager who oversees the volunteers can help keep the tone amiable and happy, so those who volunteer to help and give, can do just that. Thought provoking post, Esther.


  5. Pamela, you hit my button for sure! I had a wonderful volunteer job for several years, accomplished quite a bit, learned a tremendous amount and had a lot of fun. I was good at leading the group, so long as everybody got along. But I knew little about managing people. In my professional life, I had not had a manager or supervisor since my 20s. I worked as a member of a treatment team and I understood the team process well. I did NOT know how to manage someone who pulled in opposite directions and the results were painful. I learned from that experience…enough to know that managing isn’t one of my strengths!!


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