Proactive vs. Reactive Communication

As a public relations professional, I normally prefer to err on the side of proactive communications and setting up realistic expectations versus taking a reactive approach, especially if it means addressing disappointments.

I’ll give you an example: I live in a brand-new townhouse complex, made up of seven units. Early this morning I noticed that new neighbours in the complex had left their garbage can at the end of their driveway for pick-up, likely after seeing that all the neighbouring houses are doing the same thing. Tonight they will return home to discover their garbage is still there. Why? Our building doesn’t receive curbside garbage pick-up. We are part of the regional district, so garbage pick-up is arranged and paid for separately, and while we pay toward refuse removal in our monthly strata fees, the actual bin is located at a condo complex built by the same developer five blocks away. As for recycling, we must drive 8 km to the Home Depot parking lot and deposit it into large, separated bins.

This was one of many frustrations that I experienced when I moved in, after buying some rolling garbage and recycling cans that I now have no use for. After two weeks of lugging my garbage five blocks and then walking another five blocks home, I learned there is a shortcut that cuts the trip in half. Again, I was furious that no one told me about the shortcut. My next door neighbours also speak a bit bitterly about the money they spent buying new garbage and recycling cans they have no use for.

Another frustration was the fact that the townhomes aren’t wired for Telus, so all of the arrangements I had made for a new phone number and to keep my Telus email address were in vain. I had no choice but to switch to Shaw for my internet, TV and phone. This, again, was something I learned through trial and error.

After spending hours sorting out these logistics a few months ago, I advised the developer that he should provide new buyers with written move-in instructions, complete with information about garbage pick-up, including a map showing the short-cut, and to contact Shaw for internet, phone and TV service. He scoffed and brushed off this suggestion, saying people would figure it out on their own. While that is true, I imagine he’ll be receiving a call tonight by another frustrated, discontent new buyer asking about garbage pick-up. And while the developer enjoys keeping strata fees down by having his two complexes share one garbage bin, we might just decide to break away from that system and get curbside service, since all of us have purchased garbage cans for this purpose before we knew any better.

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