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.