How Emotions Infect Healthy Association Board Meetings
What causes otherwise polite people to lose their cool in community associations.
A rather unfortunate product of today’s news media fed culture is that – from talk radio hosts, to the nightly news – emotions in conflicts are held in higher regard than truth. There can be beauty in dissonance, but only when paired with a sincere quest for finding common ground, rather than protecting or promoting our egos. The key is recognizing what damages this quest.
Here’s what threatens an otherwise productive board meeting
When it comes to our homes and community associations, there’s so much financial and emotional investment that tension should be expected. The goal of any association board should be to find ways to keep meetings relatively drama-free zones without shying away from conflicts. Of course, this is easier written than executed; however, understanding where drama-traps can hide is the first step towards keeping meetings functional and satisfying for everyone involved. Here’s what to watch out for:
A lack of leadership. One of the most important attributes effective leaders share is the ability to remain balanced when others may be spinning out of control. At a minimum, it stops the fire from spreading; at its best, it holds up a contrasting image to unflattering emotional behavior, thereby promoting control over outbursts. Without strong leadership, emotional sparks can quickly become meeting-engulfing flames of rage.
No plan of attack. Community associations are composed of people from all walks of life. Some have experience in public debates, others aren’t so well versed in the etiquette of such gatherings. Regardless of their backgrounds, without a clear and written plan for what will and will not be tolerated, as well as the consequences for losing control, things can get out of hand all too quickly.
No structure. Blame can quickly be misinterpreted – or accurately interpreted – as a challenge to someone’s competence. People tend to point fingers when responsibilities aren’t met, but when everyone agrees upon who’s doing what, it minimizes the ability to shift blame, nipping finger-pointing in the bud.
Failure to communicate. Even with all the right rules and plans, if a culture doesn’t value productive debate over emotionally fueled zinger fests, those rules will stay as non-influential as the paper they’re printed on. Promoting respectful discussion and a sense of unity, especially while butting heads, can help keep conflicts productive.
Nobody said it was going to be easy
While we all prefer sailing smoothly through the seas of agreement, the fact of the matter is, debate should be encouraged. When everyone agrees the more likely it is for flaws to be overlooked, but when disagreements are seen as fields of competition everyone loses.
Establishing an intellectually nurturing environment is absolutely essential to running effective community associations. PeytonBolin specializes in community association law, and we understand the challenges of running a community association. For more information on creating board meetings you can be proud of, connect with one of our experts today.