So often over the last year, some members of the Naperville city council have been disrespectful to Naperville citizens who address the city council during the Public Forum portion of the city council meeting. Fortunately with the departure of two council members we have seen this occur less frequently, however it still occurs more often than it should, and frankly it should never occur. There is absolutely no reason why any citizen-speaker needs to be addressed disrespectfully or in a condescending manner by a member of the Naperville city council.
The more you observe the Naperville city council meetings, and specifically the actions and behaviors of individual council members, the more you see a pattern of which council members genuinely show respect to speakers. They exhibit this respect by:
- truly listening to the comments of the speakers
- Providing good eye contact with speakers rather than shuffling papers.
- Responding to speakers comments and questions
- Avoiding non-verbal negative communication
- Allowing speakers to conclude their presentation within reason
- Thanking speakers for presenting their comments
- Appropriately apologizing to a speaker when necessary
Two members of the Naperville city council who continuously show respect to speakers who address the council are Paul Hinterlong and Joe McElroy. They do it effortlessly (it must be in their DNA), whereas some other council members really strain to refrain from overtly showing disrespect or displeasure.
A genuine ‘thank you’ or apology goes a long way when connecting with citizens and voters. Being humble is not often a characteristic seen in politics, however when it does appear it is a very endearing human trait. Maybe because it happens so infrequently is what makes it most noticeable.
Listen and watch the following two video segments from the last city council meeting when citizen Amanda Rykov mentions she emailed three simple questions to all members of the city council without getting a response from anyone, and then councilman Paul Hinterlong directly apologizing to her on behalf of all the council members for not responding to her in a more timely manner.
Council member Paul Hinterlong did not have to do this, however it was the right thing to do. In the heat of differing opinions and opposing points of view, it is refreshing to see a council member connecting with citizens in a heart-felt manner.