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Communication styles at RCYC – 10/14/22

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    • #5102

        Hi all,
        Long thread alert:

        I’ve been having a mix of interactions at RCYC that at times have left me a bit uneasy and thought there’s no better group than the members themselves to have a discussion on best ways to handle, give feedback, and learn from you all.
        I’d love your opinions including “get over it george and shut up” if that’s how you feel.
        I’m taking the time to share so i can get your input to keep myself honest and to ensure we keep the club as welcoming and approachable as possible.

        I will start by saying that the vast majority of everything I’ve experienced at the club over the past 4-5 years has been welcoming, amicable and kind; however, there have been about a dozen instances where members have approached me or my guests in a less than welcoming way. I’ll give a couple of examples to illustrate some scenarios and for you all to hopefully kickstart some conversations on how I should handle things better/differently and/or how we as a club should be approaching these moments.

        1. You can’t park here:
        I was approached by a member in the parking lot as I was putting life jackets on my twins to head down to our boat to pick up a couple of things. we had parked in the 15 min area.
        The member began by saying: “can i help you? you can’t park there.”
        I said i didn’t need any help and that I was heading to the boat and would be back shortly. At this point I was asked if I was a member to which I said yes. The member stayed on my path to the gate so I firmly told him to get out of the way and that we had nothing else to talk about. I was extra firm because this particular member had approached me 2-3 times before as well as followed me around the marina as I moved dock protection from my old slip to the new one on walk 1.
        My takeaways: I know this person is making i was not a stranger and their intention is security; however, I think we can accomplish this checkup without confrontation and assumption of ill intent.
        What I would have done differently if I were them: “Hi, I’m George. I don’t think we’ve met, are you a new member?”
        What do you think of all this?

        2. Who are you and where are you going:
        I had let 2 friends into the marina and was walking them to my boat on walk 2. I walked faster so was 30-40 feet ahead of the two of them. They were stopped by a member and asked where they were going? what were their names? who owns the boat?
        Clearly more polite than me they stuck around to speak to this member. Short on patience I came back to pick up my friends so we could get on the boat and off the dock. Funny enough it was my turn to be asked the same questions. I chose to not answer and just went to my boat.
        My takeaways: I should have given more time to this interaction, though to be honest, I just simply didn’t feel like it after hearing the member’s the tone. My friends were left feeling like the club is not welcoming given the third degree.
        What do you all think? What’s normal interaction with other people’s guests walking around our marina?

        3. I don’t recognize you:
        I was sitting on the wooden A frame atop the sand pit today taking a work call and some sun. I had a wonderful interaction with Pam who did not recognize me with my hat and sunglasses and a confusing one with another member.
        The other member parked their car and walked up the hill and said something. I had my headphones in taking the call so may have not heard everything. What I did hear was: “i don’t recognize you” to which I replied “i am not very recognizable.”
        The member slowly walked away and through the gate and on with their day. I got in my car and went home shortly after.
        My takeaways: This was not good on my part. I should have taken more time to chat with the member to understand what they needed. Was i being extra shifty and suspicious sitting there with my phone enjoying the sun while my dogs ran around? Did i look like i needed help maybe?
        Again. Appreciate the watchful eye but slightly annoyed by the approach.
        What would i have done differently: I wouldn’t have approached somebody just sitting there in plain sight making no attempt to hide nor acting suspicious. If i had approached, i would have said: “Hey i’m George. I don’t think we’ve met. are you a member here?”

        I want to end by saying I’m making lifelong friends at RCYC and love the sense of community we have here. It’s also where I often go to recharge, soak up some sun and be with my thoughts.
        Despite the long form of this writing rest assured I am not bothered (slightly annoyed) by these interactions as clearly I can be a total jackass and smartass myself in response. HOWEVER, I don’t want my friends/guests, or anybody else at the club feeling intimidated, unwelcomed, etc.

        Tell me what you all think.
        How should we approach people we do not recognize?
        When should we approach them?
        How do we decide when their answers are satisfactory?
        What do I need to change or wear differently so I’m not perceived as a hoodlum?

        • This topic was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by georgekapllani.
        • This topic was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by CJ.
      • #5111

          Thanks for sharing your situations.

        • #5112

            Certainly plenty room here for respectful observations from a host of various perspectives – so many thanks for sharing your thoughtful reflections George! As a Pollyanna I want to believe that the climate of insecurity that has the wider community apparently so on edge as to require a Presidential visit today might obviously be a contributing factor but there’s no excuse for incivility – hopefully even if I bump into your boat! Cheers, John Maroney

          • #5113

              George, I am glad you brought this up. My guests have also had similar experiences. In addition to the good recommendations you provide, I would encourage every member to refresh themselves on RCYC Policy regarding guests:
              3.1. Members and Guests

              3.1.3. Guests: Guests are any invited non-members who are at RCYC, whether it be for racing, exercising a reciprocal, attending an event or joining a member. Guests are to be welcomed at RCYC and treated with courtesy and respect.

              Please take particular note of the second sentence in 3.1.3.

              “Guests are to be welcomed at RCYC and treated with courtesy and respect.”

              I know that our response to COVID has resulted in fewer opportunities to practice positive social behavior. Let’s do our part to assume good intent. Ask the right questions in a welcoming and courteous manner, and get to know our fellow club members.

              I look forward to seeing you all and having an opportunity to practice some of George’s recommended introductions.

              • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by brianmoore.
            • #5115

                I have been in and around RCYC for many years having grown up at the club before it moved down river to the current location and becoming a member myself many years ago. It has been known as “Fort Knox YC” locally for a long, long, time. It hasn’t been the most welcoming or hospitable club toward guests in Portland or on the West Coast for a long time either. That makes me very sad. It wasn’t always that way. I do remember a very different vibe around the club during my childhood and before joining. I hope that atmosphere will change some day.

                In the past 6 months I have spent time at the following Yacht Clubs: North Flathead, Mc Nary, San Diego, Southwestern, Long Beach, Alamitos Bay, Dana Point, Dana West, Pacific Corinthian, Santa Barbara, Richmond, St. Francis, Golden Gate, Encinal, Oakland, Berkeley, Port Townsend, Mazatlan and Vallarta. I’ve been to these clubs either as a guest of a member to go racing, as a guest of the club as a race official or just as a random tourist with no business other than to take a walk and look around. Not at a single one those clubs, where I simply walked onto the grounds and was typically not in the company of a member, was I ever stopped by someone and questioned; maybe I just look like I belong there. Yet, at my home club, where I use a key to access the property, myself and others are often stopped and questioned. It makes no sense to be so aggressively security conscious. In the past 20+ years of “yachting”, with visits to dozens of clubs, I’ve never been stopped anywhere other than at RCYC.

                George, I applaud you for posting such a well written post and I hope others around the club will take note. I also empathize with you as it is a difficult and uncomfortable situation. Brian, I have seen you demonstrate policy 3.1.3 toward guests and wish more members would recognize this very simple rule. Some people need to stop worrying that everyone that they don’t recognize is up to nefarious acts and start using a little measure of common sense and common courtesy.

              • #5116

                  I really appreciate you all on here as well as the many members that reached out via email.

                  Some long term members have expressed they can’t be bothered to voice their opinions anymore which is very troubling to me. We have a great opportunity to form community at the club while remaining vigilant. I think we are very close if we approach these situations with confidence AND courtesy.

                  I think it may be worthwhile for the club leadership to create a forum to discuss further over coffee at the club. I don’t think we need more policies, but rather a round table and reminder of what we are doing. Sailing, social, racing, boating, friendship, drinking, music, volunteer work. In my mind there’s no room there for any grumpy behaviour.

                  Keep the feedback and experiences coming.

                • #5124

                    Thanks George for chiming in with your observations. Hopefully it will help us all to be more mindful of our interactions with each other. Certainly everyone should help make the club a friendly and inviting place.

                  • #5125

                      I find this situation sad that some folks don’t have the tact and manners to effectively approach another member about a mutual concern which is club security. That said, regardless of how I was approached, I would respond to another inquiring. My name is Mark Holzmann I joined in 1998. I own Hawkwind on Walk 1 and that’s it. If there was anymore discussion other than friendly. My next comment would be feel free to look me up in the club roster, there’s usually one in the club house or you can call our Cmmdr Loren Beach. As far as guest I tell my guest if asked who they are, tell them your name and your here with member Mark Holzmann

                    • #5126

                        I find this situation sad that some folks don’t have the tact and manners to effectively approach another member about a mutual concern which is club security. That said, regardless of how I was approached, I would respond to another inquiring. My name is Mark Holzmann I joined in 1998. I own Hawkwind on Walk 1 and that’s it. If there was anymore discussion other than friendly. My next comment would be feel freely to look me up in the club roster, there’s usually one in the club house or you can call our Cmmdr Loren Beach. As far as guest I tell my guest if asked who they are, tell them your name and your here with member Mark Holzmann

                      • #5127

                          In my many years of being a teacher, I always had some students whose manners and communication skills were less than desirable. Most of my students were friendly, kind and welcoming to others. I would avoid making broad brush strokes in defining my class, or in this case, RCYC by the actions and comments of a few.

                          In working for West Marine for 15 years, I never had a single comment about RCYC being a Fort Knox Yacht Club. People that I talked to always had complimentary things to say about RCYC. Maybe Eric and I walk in different circles, but I found his comments to be out of line and offensive.

                          When meeting someone I am not familiar with at RCYC I always introduce myself and indicate that I have not met them before. If following introductions I find out they are not a member I will ask if they need some help in finding their host. I think during this time of covid, with so many new members and so few opportunities to meet each other, the number of introductory encounters has probably increased.

                          I recommend that we all work at killing each other with kindness and let our better angels thrive.

                        • #5128

                            Hi George, I was the Member you call out in item #3.

                            We have had numerous trespassers entering the RCYC property by climbing over the fence, slipping through the gate when it opens to allow vehicles to enter and exit as well as several times where the fence has been cut. The east side of the property by Salty’s is also accessible when the water is low.

                            When I parked my car I looked up and saw a person by the pond and could only see their head and part of their shoulders due to the angle. There is generally no one up there and not being able to recognize you, I did walk up to the top of the pond to see who was there. As I was able to see that it was a person on a phone call and enjoying the sun with their dog, I said “Hi, I didn’t recognize you”. Not wanting to further interrupt your phone call, I smiled and went about my business at the Club. No confrontation or hostile move on my part.

                            Please approach this encounter by assuming the best of intention and not other wise. Had you not been on a call, I would have hopefully engaged you with a pleasant conversation by introducing myself and meeting a fellow Member.

                            It is all of our responsibility to ensure that our property is secure to whatever degree we feel is comfortable by starting with a smile and introduction, not confrontation. Unfortunately we have had way too many occasions when people have failed to honor our requests to not trespass on private property.

                            I too encourage all Members to be courteous to all Members and their guests.

                          • #5129

                              Thank you John. Appreciate you and the sentiments. I’m sure we would have had a great chat if I had not been on a call and pre-loaded from previous interactions at RCYC.

                              Since the original post was made on Friday, I have received over a dozen personal emails from other members (which will remain anonymous) sharing similar or worse experiences. Race crews, families, guests, members themselves are all referenced in those emails. This is not a one off or isolated incident though Bob is probably right that it may be just a few people needing adjustment. Let’s practice some “killing with kindness” as Bob says. He’s an expert at it and one of the friendliest and most approachable people i’ve met at RCYC.

                              To the matter of vigilance and property safety: I personally believe these are completely detached from the matter at hand. What happens in portland, covid, etc should be 100% separate from the expectation of common courtesy and decorum at the club.

                              As far as I am concerned the burden of courtesy sits with the initiator of an interaction. “Assuming the best of intentions and not otherwise” begins with the initiator.

                              Thanks again John!

                            • #5132

                                I too have experienced several unsavory encounters, nearly identical to those George describes. Being a relatively new member, I generally try to brush them off and always assume positive intent. While that is easy enough for me to do, it has on occasion left a poor impression with my guests and, more discouragingly, with my significant other. Even though she isn’t a member, she spends just as much time at The Club as I do, and has even been questioned while participating in work parties. While maintaining the security of the club is certainly of the highest priority, I hope we can weigh the need for austerity against the welcoming, hospitable environment I believe we’re all hoping to create at RCYC.

                                My practice – should I feel the need to approach a stranger – is to introduce myself first, rather than start the conversation with a cold, impersonal line questioning, and then we can get into the details of what brings us both to The Club. I like the way George put it: the burden of courtesy should sit with the initiator.

                                Thanks for having the courage to speak out about this, George! Hopefully we can shift some, however small, behaviors and grow a more welcoming, inclusive environment.

                              • #5139

                                  Wow. All very thoughtful ideas. We are new members(2021) and our experience has been downright positively friendly. Much better than our experience at at another yacht club down river for a couple years for example.

                                  I think RCYC is unique it’s very makeup. I bet it accounts for the positive and maybe an occasional negative. At every marina we’ve been in someone else has been responsible for security. There has been paid staff responsible for screening strangers. I remember once in Seattle at Elliott Bay Marina (where we had our boat for over 10 years), a group of 6 of us, guys(machinery show) went down to see our boat. Pretty soon here comes a couple of staff wondering how we got through the gate. I guess our vibram soled work boats didn’t quite fit in…LOL.

                                  On the other hand I think the overwhelming possitive side of the ledger somes from the work parties. It’s hard not to remember and recognize the people you have worked with for a few hours.

                                  I like the approach someone else mentioned…start all introductions with something about yourself and I bet the information you want will soon follow.

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