Success Depends Upon Cooperation Community association board members and managers are responsible for carrying out business that protects literally millions of dollars worth of real estate. Daily problems arise that range in magnitude and importance, but all require sound business judgment to resolve....
We have all been to one of those meetings – the ones where the association is facing a controversial issue with strong emotions on each side. The board and manager are usually anxious about how to handle the meeting, the competing arguments, and the emotions in the room. This can be a difficult role for the person chairing the meeting, especially if that person is (or is perceived to be) on one side or the other. So, what is the board or manager to do?
How do we as humans deal with people who yell and scream at us or refuse to be rational? You know the type, adversarial, manipulative, inflexible, unreasonable, irrational. For most people, the answer is “We don’t”. If given the choice, most of us choose not to work with people like this. We don’t socialize with them, we avoid them at work if possible, and we make our own lives easier by simply ignoring them whenever we can.
As with any relationship in life, we all hope for harmony but, inevitably, we all will experience our share of “difficult” people. Some may remember their first encounter with that “other kid” at preschool who would always take the toy we were playing with. Others may recall the co-worker later in life who made every meeting unbearable with his constant complaints or comments. Serving on a board of directors or committee for a homeowners association (HOA) can be challenging in many ways; dealing with individuals who are difficult is part of the landscape. However, there are issues to consider, whether we are the recipient or even the cause of this negativity.
There are some fundamental techniques in dealing with these challenging personalities, whether you encounter them at an HOA meeting or just walking around a neighborhood. First, try to understand what motivates people to be difficult. Some owners may attend a board meeting because they received a covenant violation notice; realize that there could be other underlying reasons for the tirade. Second, don’t discount the value of criticism. There is sometimes value amongst all that negativity; perhaps if we step back from our defensive inclinations, we might find a great suggestion or solution. Finally, maintain realistic expectations. It’s true that an HOA has rules, but those rules may have just enough flexibility to enable you to work with the homeowner to come to a simple solution.