Got a bully on your HOA Board? Someone who intimidates other members, interrupts others, is rude and generally unpleasant. You can recognize a bully—a past schoolyard nuisance who is now haunting your community. Board Bully has far-reaching effects, including your Board’s productivity, HOA committees, your neighbors and almost everything in your community. So, it’s important to learn how to handle bully behavior.
While you may be able to get Board Bully removed from the Board, it takes time. Most by-laws require a homeowner vote to remove a Board member. You may also want to keep Board Bully due to skills and knowledge that the Board needs. Confronting the situation may be all that’s needed. Here are some tips for talking with a bully.
Stay Calm. Whether you are commenting in a Board meeting or talking with the bully in a different location, keeping your cool acts as a diffuser. Avoid challenging statements and angry retorts because they energize bully behavior.
Address the Issue. Meet with the bully outside of your meetings. Face-to-face works best. So, even if you’re tempted to email or phone the bully, don’t do it. Start the discussion with on a positive note and moderate your tone as you move into addressing Board Bully’s behavior.
Focus on Facts. Try to stick with data, statistics, names, and other facts when interacting with Board Bully. Facts divert the discussion from opinions and feelings, making it easier to stay on track.
Engage a Mediator. People aren’t always aware that they are being difficult. If your efforts with Board Bully fail, seeking help from a neutral source may resolve the issue. Every HOA Board member must realize that personal differences and proving a point has to be secondary to the Board’s objectives.
Even when negative behavior isn’t bullying, you can’t let it derail your meetings. A Board member could vent frustrations in a meeting due to being stressed about a family situation, a work problem or other issue. When you confront the situation, the person usually acknowledges poor behavior and apologizes.
Remember that you can’t control Board Bully’s behavior, and don’t take it personally. A good leader puts their energy toward a solution that will move the Board forward. If confronting Board Bully didn’t resolve the behavior, you need to take steps to remove him/her from the Board. The most productive Board meetings are always bully-free zones.