Associations: treat us like grown-ups

Sorry, I just have to rant a little about something that makes me crazy: Association-speak. You know, strategic plans and paradigm-shifting and all that yadda yadda. So I loved this post from Kevin Holland on the The Association Blog about how just this type of pablum-no-offense-intended association-speak is coming back to haunt Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers.

I left a long comment there, but the gist of it was that for some reason, association leaders all too often seem to think they need to protect members against anything controversial, divisive, or even just interesting, and so they water down communications to the point where they sound similar to Miers' statement when she was president of the Texas Bar Association: "More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems.” (Nothing against Miers, just association-speak striking again.)

As I commented on Kevin's blog, a leader should worry about leading, not saying something that might raise an eyebrow or two. And as Miers is finding out, what seems safe in the cocoon of an association is exposed for the inanity it really is when its brought out into the real world. And guess what? The real world is where your members live. They’re big boys and girls, they can take real challenges in real words. I’d love to see association leaders treat their members like the grown-up professionals they are, rather than feed them pablum. Yes, you could lose members, but you’d also gain members, and have a much more interesting, involved, and engaged constituency. Not to mention, meetings.

I know it's a long and hallowed tradition to say nothing while appearing to say something, but please, I beg of you, cut it out and just talk with us human to human, instead of association to member. It could rock all of our worlds.

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