Bringing Out the Best in Challenging Condo Board Members

Posted on Monday August 29, 2016

A condo board that has a variety of people serving on it can have the advantage of providing a healthy range of approaches and viewpoints. After all, variety is the spice of life!
But occasionally, you’ll have one or more difficult board members who seem to thrive on conflict. You know the type: No matter what the topic may be, these members argue incessantly and try to dominate every conversation.
So what can you do to manage these types of people and to prevent them from undermining your meetings? Here are 10 techniques you can use to keep their negativity at bay and maybe even turn them around.

1.  Show consideration.

You know that old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? There’s a lot of truth to it. You can help to shift everyone’s attitude, including a difficult member’s, by making a point of being considerate of other board members’ thoughts and feelings. This approach will go much farther than if you express disdain.

2.  Remain positive.

It may not be easy, but avoid stooping to another person’s level of negativity. Catch yourself before you fling insults or say anything you might regret — it’s not productive anyway. By staying positive yourself, you’ll be encouraging other board members to take the high road as well.
3.  Avoid being judgmental.

We can all get judgmental on occasion, but it’s important to keep that in check at board meetings. Be honest: Do you have a preconceived notion about any of the other board members? If so, this can bias you against their ideas and affect how you treat them. Try to be open to everyone’s ideas — even those offered by people you find challenging. If you are busy judging them, you may not really hear their contributions, and you could miss a really good suggestion.
4.  Don’t be a know-it-all.

Perhaps you were elected to the board because of your specialized knowledge or experience, but it’s still important to give others — even difficult members — a chance to voice opinions, too. On the other hand, if you have certain members who always think they know best, make sure to give others a chance to speak before they do.

5.  Delineate boundaries.

It’s essential to have ground rules on proper behavior at meetings. All members need to understand what is expected of them and to be held accountable if they cross the line. At the same time, individual board members also have a right to define their own boundaries in terms of how they are treated and what they are willing to take on. Honor their limitations as well.

6.  Say “no” when necessary.

Don’t be shy about saying “no” If a challenging board member tries to take over. Let members know that they have a right to say “no,” too, especially if someone tries to offload responsibilities on them.  

7.  Express appreciation.

Recognizing a member’s contributions at a meeting creates a positive atmosphere and encourages continued hard work. Oftentimes, a difficult member just wants to feel appreciated, so this can go a long way toward improving cooperation.

8.  Look for an interim solution.

If you cannot agree on how to resolve an issue, agree on a way to manage it — for now. A single item can cause an entire meeting to come to a standstill, and this is not productive. Follow the “consensus” rule. With this principle, a dissenting board member agrees to accept the majority decision for the good of the condo.

9.  Move swiftly.

If someone is trying to steer your meeting toward an item that is not on your agenda, put a stop to it right away. Board meetings need to stay on task, and members should not be putting their personal agendas over the good of the community.

10.  Be respectful.

Everyone on your board deserves respect. However, respect is a two-way street, so do not tolerate others disrespecting you. Disagreement is not an excuse to be disrespectful.
Board members bring their own personalities and outlooks to a condo board. Make the most of these differences by following our suggestions. For further resources on how to maximizing the unique dynamics of your condo board, contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s leading condominium management company.

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