In a world where our rights, wants and needs seem to dominate modern society, the pursuit of “What’s in it for me?” has almost become the dominating factor. The danger in only considering ourselves is that it inevitably results in a lack of respect and courtesy for others. This is hardly conducive to fostering an atmosphere of better listening, thinking and speaking.
Our Toastmasters clubs should be a safe haven for everyone to develop their skills. Engaging in an open exchange of ideas, sharing knowledge and mentoring others are the cornerstones of our organization, culminating in effective evaluations—the keystone of the Toastmasters program. With this in mind, the seventh commitment to the Toastmaster’s Promise is more important than ever: “To treat my fellow members and our guests with respect and courtesy.”
What does that mean in practical terms? Does your club have a welcoming atmosphere in which all members and guests are encouraged to fully participate? Are diverse opinions respectfully considered? Does the club leader regularly report to members on club progress in meeting members’ goals? If you were visiting a club for the first time, what would be your first impression? Would you join? Are small cliques a part of the club? Do one or two dominating personalities overshadow open discussion and debate?
Harmony, mutual respect and courtesy are essential elements of any successful club.
Obviously, as an individual, it is often difficult to objectively answer these questions, but try this tried-and-tested method of gauging a collective response. “Moments of Truth” is a resource available on the Toastmasters website as a free download, and I urge every club to conduct the self-assessment it offers. Harmony, mutual respect and courtesy are essential elements of any successful club, and every member is responsible for ensuring that these values are upheld.
In my recent visits to districts around the globe, I have been impressed by the goodwill, respect and courtesy displayed by so many members of diverse cultures. Every member has a duty to help ensure that these values continue to be at the forefront of their club’s mantra. It is only too easy to take such values for granted. However, it only takes one discordant voice to undo what in many cases has taken years of dedication to achieve.
As we stride toward the conclusion of this Toastmasters program year, let us all take time to treat our fellow members and guests with respect and courtesy by always endeavoring to “Remember the Member.”
MIKE STORKEY, DTM