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Supporting Your Chamber Staff and Members Through the Raging Customer

While chamber work may be your love, moments arise when the weight of the pressures and your unappreciated efforts becomes too much. You're not alone. Chamber pros share their advice on reigniting your passion, navigating challenges, and rediscovering your "why."

Even if chamber work is in your blood, there are some occasions when the endless pressures and discontented voices weigh heavily on you. Even though you’re doing great work and making things happen for businesses in your community, the job can be frustrating, thankless, and underpaid. If you’re feeling that right now, you could use some encouragement.

We get it. We’ve all been there and that’s why we’ve compiled some great advice from chamber pros all over the country. Here’s what they had to say about following your dreams when the going gets rough and the work doesn’t seem worth it.

Chamber Pros Speak Out

The following advice appeared in the Chamber Pros Community on Facebook: 

Seek Dependable Support

There’s someone out there who believes in you, even when you don’t. Whoever that person is, if you’re a chamber pro, you need them on speed dial. As Brenda Whitehead CEO of the Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce shared, “I make a call to one of my champions, those people who believe in what we do, understand the complexities of it, and are AOK with venting. (and understand that I can’t always share what the full root of the problem is for confidentiality.)”

She added a chamber staffer from a different chamber is a good sounding board. No one knows what chamber professionals go through quite like another chamber pro. A mentor or someone who formerly sat in your spot can help too (if you are sure you can trust them). Best of all with chamber pros, there’s rarely an explanation needed. They understand.

If you don’t have a chamber peer you can share with or are worried about how it may come across/it getting back to the person you need to vent about, consider posting to the Chamber Pros group anonymously. You can read the responses and know most of the people answering have been in your shoes.

Go for Some Self-care

To foster consistency, start by setting clear and meaningful goals. Define what you want to achieve, whether that’s making diversity a larger priority at your chamber (with steps on how you will do that), rolling out a leadership program, or working toward a promotion. Ensure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART goals). When your objectives are well-defined, you'll have a roadmap to follow, making it easier to stay consistent.

Surround Yourself with Someone Positive

If what you’re going through can’t be shared or you don’t know anyone who will truly understand, that doesn’t mean you have to struggle in silence. Find someone who lights up a room and makes you feel special. Perhaps your best friend or a sparkling chamber member fits the bill. Spend time with them. You don’t even need to mention your troubles. Chelsea Scoma from the Grandview, MO Chamber of Commerce suggested, “Connect with someone in your chamber who makes your heart happy and just grab lunch/coffee and remind yourself what you love about your chamber.” Remember the people you’re helping. As a chamber pro, you are a dream advocate, cheerleader, and economic developer all rolled into one and the community wouldn’t be the same without your efforts.

Write Your Mantra

There’s a lot of talk around figuring out your “why” but it shouldn’t stop there. Once you know your why and what you bring to the community, create a daily mantra or affirmation around it. When you focus your attention on it, you’ll see your impact more clearly. Try an affirmation like, “Today I will help a business owner do something they need in order to thrive.”

Incorporating your mantra while you take your first sip of coffee every morning will bring to the forefront the importance of what you do and get you realigned with your personal mission/why. As Joey O’Hern, Executive Director at Lake City-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce wisely advised, “keep your eyes on the mission (and the mission isn’t to please everyone).”

Additionally, keep in mind the advice from Deb Neuman, President of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. She said, “I remind myself that I work to feed my body (food on the table) and to feed my soul. Most chamber days do both and when I have a day like that … I call it ‘a feed the body’ day and hold on until a feed my soul moment comes along. It always does.”

Reverse the Roles

If you need a quick pick-me-up, there’s no better one than making someone else feel good. It is impossible to feel awful when you see how you’ve brightened someone else’s day. Megan Pugh said, “… compliment someone - it’s a huge mood booster.” When she’s having a rough day, she admitted she would also use that as an opportunity to write the thank you cards she’s behind on.

Lauren Fletcher suggested, “visiting members to check in on and listen to them, providing assistance even if it’s simply encouragement. I always come back from member visits energized and fulfilled.”

Get Visual

Sometimes hearing and saying the words aren’t enough. Some days you need to see the impact you’re having. That’s why Beth Truelove said, “We look at photos of those that support the mission doing fun Chamber things. It’s the best medicine when you need to remember your ‘why.’”

Unplug

Shut it down. It’s not easy but it is a simple solution.

Change Your Schedule

This may not be an option for everyone, but in some instances, perhaps you can change your schedule to give yourself more consistent (read scheduled) breaks. For instance, Jessica Viera offered, “I changed my schedule so I'm working 4 days a week now (4-10s) and putting hard boundaries on my personal time. Having that extra day has made a huge difference for me.”

If you’re not able to change your hours like that, schedule time within your day for yourself. Respect it as you would scheduling time with your most loyal member. Use this time to get back in touch with what makes you passionate about your work or do things you know you excel in. This needed break can make you feel more accomplished and rested.

Realize Temporary Is Permanent

No problem is permanent. Every problem will be solved or lose its importance; every argument will eventually end. Every season will change. Many chamber professionals advised that whatever you’re currently struggling with will (eventually) pass. Life—personal or professional—is about waves and troughs. Sometimes you’ll be riding high, sometimes you’ll be in the flats.

Keep a Feel-Good File

Before you finish reading this article, commit to one thing—creating a feel-good file of all the nice written (or emailed) comments you’ve received. Print them out because you won’t remember to look at them if you keep them in an email folder. If they’re in paper form, you’ll happen across them periodically and they’ll put a smile on your face.

What if you don’t already have a feel-good file?

Then listen to the suggestion from Rosanne Ford and “Take a peek at your Facebook pics/videos and see all that you and your chamber have done.”

Reframe

There’s a big difference between telling yourself you “have to” and you “get to.” When you “get to” that means it’s a privilege or something you are fortunate to do. Have to designates an obligation. For example, I have to work out means drudgery. I get to work out shows you’re lucky enough to have your health to be able to exercise. Jessica Viera found that reframing helps her. She said, “I put a note on the top of my main computer screen to remind me that I GET to do great things, and when I'm really down I remind myself of that. I GET to do it, not HAVE to do it, but because of who I am and where our Chamber is, I GET to do amazing things and help propel our community forward, and it helps.”

Rock Out

If you’re looking for feel-good music to improve your mood, there’s only one decade that will do. If you answered anything other than the 80s, you’re wrong. Lisa Luebke Executive Director from the Boyne Area Chamber gets it. She said she listens “…to 80’s rock music really loud.” However, if you said, “country music,” you earned a number two spot. After all, country can make you feel a lot better about your life.

When listening isn’t enough, do what Carol Taylor, Executive Director of the Goochland Chamber of Commerce suggests, “Sing out loud.”

Laugh

Finding humor in something can be a great release and immediately elevate your mood. In the Chamber of Commerce Pros group on Facebook, you’ll often find comic relief.

Here are a few suggestions on how to deal with the tough days from chamber pros who will remain anonymous (to protect the not-so-innocent, but very funny). If we can do nothing else, we can always laugh together.

Chamber pros funny advice on dealing with people when they are just too peoply:

  • Bottle in the bottom drawer.
  • ​Let me know when you figure it out.
  • ​Find the best Mexican place in town, get the biggest margarita you want and realize this too shall pass!
  • ​I usually write my letter of resignation.
  • ​Wine 🍷 and silence at the end of the day.
  • ​Eat ice cream.
  • ​Send sarcastic memes to my favorite coworker and laugh together.
  • ​Hit the Crown Royal (after all, heavy is the head that wears the crown).

In conclusion, Katie Stice the President/CEO of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce shared something we could all use more of, “Place your hand over your heart and your other hand on your belly. Close your eyes and remember your purpose. Begin again.”

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