Say something nice


I wrote this to the other members of Council. My spouse advised against it – he feared that folks would misinterpret it. But really, when finding a positive thing to say about someone else is suspect, what does that say about us?

To me, res ipse loquitor (the thing speaks for itself). These statements were made during Council comments, and said directly to each Council member.

I recently attended a meeting where each person speaking was asked to say something nice about someone else. At another meeting, each committee member was expected to say something positive about those committee members who had served their terms and were leaving.

I’m not planning for any of you to leave, but I want to take an opportunity to say something nice about each of you, without requiring a special event.

Council member Anglin and I came on Council together. Your ability to mobilize others, tapping into their energy and enthusiasm, helps bring your constituents together. You help provide a voice to those who want to turn the discussion in different directions.

Throughout her terms on Council, Council member Lumm has continued to focus on the budget and ways to make it reflect the community’s priorities. Your clear focus is a benefit to Council discussions.

Council member Taylor provides his analytic skills to many issues that face the Council. Your parsing of each issue, and your clear explanations of your thinking are a significant benefit to deliberations.

Council member Teall brings her positive and empathetic outlook to every meeting. Your personal commitment to social and economic justice shapes all you do on Council.

Council member Kunselman provides a passionate commitment to the issues that he finds important. Your reminders to Council that the debt on the old Y lot needs to be addressed and your determination that rules must be followed, bring discipline to Council thinking.

Council member Warpehoski listens carefully to the statements and ideas of others. Your natural skill as a consensus-driven participant coupled with your attention to detail help bring a cooperative tone to Council discussions.

Council member Petersen is both practical and pragmatic. Your ability to see opportunities for economic development, coupled with your willingness to share information and learn from your constituents helps move the Council discussions forward.

Council member Kailasapathy both supports and advocates on behalf of her constituents. Your desire to find solutions to problems, working with others to do so, is a strong positive benefit for our community.

Council member Higgins is deceptively quiet. She listens, spots the single point, and asks questions that help shape the issues. Your ability to work hard, let others take the credit, and take the long view toward resolution of issues helps ground the deliberations at this table.

Mayor Hieftje is also deceptive, in that way that leaders can be. Your ability to listen to many viewpoints and willingness to find compromise among them provides a balance needed in any group. Your knowledge of the issues and your concern about the individuals affected by those issues also provides balance – and balance is needed for any group effort.

Ann Arbor is made up of individuals. The best people to sit at this table present different personal styles and offer different perspectives. We are stronger for our differences, while those differences are tempered by a willingness to listen, to compromise, to collaborate – and to stick firmly to principals. You don’t get thanked often enough; thank you for your service.

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7 Responses to Say something nice

  1. nobody, really says:

    Thanking them publicly is a bit of grandstanding, not to mention a waste of viewers’ time.

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  4. John Floyd says:

    Apparently, I need to pay more attention to the mayor, as on the issues I follow, I haven’t noticed much, if any, spirit of compromise (let alone actions of compromise). Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    Thanks also for bringing a measure of civility to a body not generally renowned for its civility.

    • sbriere says:

      When I look at others, I think that much of what I see is like an iceberg – 3/4ths of any person cannot easily be seen from the surface, and must be deduced. Anyway, that is how I came to see this exercise; I looked at the what surface, added all the nuances I had observed, and deduced motives and goals.

      And of course, I can be wrong; but being kind never seems to backfire.

  5. Eleanor Pollack says:

    It never hurts to share positive thoughts about others. Sometimes when we learn the positive perspective another has about someone, we have the opportunity to look at that someone with fresh eyes. Of course, it usually helps if we are able to look at another from a positive POV and ascribe their actions to seeking a worthy goal, even if it a goal with which we disagree. Your commentary was thoughtful ~ I wish the members of both houses of Congress would look at one another in such a productive manner.

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