Sunday, February 23, 2014

#SororitySunday: Sisters First

In my four years as a sorority woman, I've held four different positions within my chapter, all with various different duties and levels of responsibility. Transitioning between positions is naturally always a difficult time: you're in a new role, still figuring things out. So it's often during these transitions between officers that chapters run into problems.

I've said this before, but I think it's of the utmost importance that members be able to give constructive criticism to one another in regards to their business duties, but then turn around and go get coffee together and not have those criticisms affect their friendship. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't have the ability to view things through that lens: they take criticism of their officer position as criticism of themselves as a person, and then they resent the sister who gave the advice. This is a vicious cycle, and one that will ruin any chapter's hopes of building a real sense of sisterhood.
The last group of executive council women I had the privilege to be a part of
That's why it's so important to be sisters first, officers second. If members could remember that one simple phrase, relationships could vastly improve. If a sister has an issue with another sister, she should bring it to that person and talk it out, not spread cattiness by talking about it to everyone but that person. If members feel they can communicate openly with one another, it will foster an environment where the women feel more comfortable coming to one another with constructive criticism. As an officer, you need to make sure these girls know they can come to you with things and no personal vendettas will get involved.

I think that not taking things personally is often easier said than done, but a fresh mindset can go far in making this work in any chapter. The number one thing to remember when you feel yourself taking things personally and lashing out at someone else in your organization is to try to see things from their perspective. In sororities, but also just in general relationships in life, I think everyone would be a lot better off if we thought more about how other people are feeling, why they might have done something, or what motivates them. A lot of conflict comes as a result of misunderstanding, so it's a good rule that if you're calling someone your sister, you should always assume the best in them and doubt the worst. If you hear a rumor, assume the best until you can ask them about it and get facts straight. Not only is it not sisterly to assume the worst in people, it's a terrible basis for real relationships. So be up front, be honest, be respectful, and above all else, be kind.

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