A homeowner’s association (HOA) can accomplish great things with the right people sitting on the board. However, bullies can often be the clog that hinders a well-oiled machine from performing effectively. A board bully can be annoying. They often belittle other members’ proposals and forcefully push their own. If you are reading this, there is a good chance you already have a bully problem. Here are some tips on how you can handle bullies on your HOA board.
1. Keep Calm
The first thing you must do when faced with a bully on your HOA board is to stay calm. Getting mad and releasing hell upon them may provide momentary relief, but it will only turn around to bite you in the end.
Losing your temper will only make things worse, and some bullies even feed off of your negative reaction. No matter where you are or what you are doing, it is important to keep your cool to let the bully—and everyone else—know you are in complete control of your emotions. Nobody wants a member with a short fuse on their HOA board.
2. Address Privately
Publicly confronting the bully on your HOA board can quickly get out of hand. They may feel threatened or cornered, especially when people begin ganging upon them. They may not even know they are being difficult in the first place. As a primary option, try to talk to them privately outside of board meetings.
Your approach must be calm and collected. They certainly won’t respond well to a harsh opening. Start the conversation on a positive note. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, move into discussing their behavior. Let them know that it may be causing some issues. Tone plays a critical role in your success so make sure you control it. Try not to blame them.
While you may feel uncomfortable, it is best to talk to the bully face-to-face. Conveying a friendly tone through text can be difficult. By personally speaking with them, you will avoid any misunderstandings that may arise over email or on the phone.
3. Facts Over Opinion
Bullies tend to aggressively push their agenda during board meetings, sometimes derailing the discussion completely. When interacting with them, it is best to leave your personal opinions at the door. Don’t tell the bully what’s wrong with their proposal. Instead, ask meaningful questions and focus on the facts.
Always be prepared to back up your proposals with real data and statistics. This will allow you to come across as a rational and practical member of the board, which can earn you the trust of your colleagues. As a result, you will gain their support.
Remember: there is strength in numbers. If you and your supporters outnumber the bully and his/her supporters, you will be able to get more things done and reach impactful results.
4. Employ A Mediator
A conflict with the board bully may not always be resolved without outside help. Sometimes, you will need the assistance of a neutral party to mediate between you and the bully. Set your agendas and opinions aside. The objectives and interests of the board must outweigh your emotions.
5. Remove the Bully from the Board
If nothing else works, it may be time to remove the bully from the HOA board. Review the HOA rules and bylaws to see what you can do. Sometimes, when the bully is being too difficult or unreasonable, ousting them is the only way to improve the situation.
You must remember that the HOA board has duties and responsibilities to perform. Bullies can make it incredibly hard to carry out these roles and achieve association goals. It can make the board less efficient in completing tasks and projects. Gather your fellow board members and discuss a plan of action. You may need to vote on the decision.
How to Identify a Bully
Because people tend to act a certain way all the time, you may not even realize you have a bully in your midst. You may try to justify their behavior, saying it is how they normally act. However, there are many ways to identify a bully.
Bullies are often condescending, considering themselves superior and belittling other people’s opinions. You may feel trepidation when interacting with them, fearing the wrong thing may set them off at any time. They can be very critical, judgmental, and often seek out control during board meetings.
Moreover, they can also be aggressive, using threats of violence or physical intimidation to get their way. They tend to pick fights with people and call them names, much like a schoolyard bully.
However, just because they are not offensive does not mean they are not bullies. They can also play the victim, using guilt as a weapon in pursuit of their agenda.
They may or may not embody all of these traits. However, if these descriptions remind you of anyone, there is a good chance they are a bully. On the other hand, you may also want to re-examine yourself. You may not know it, but other people may see you as the bully on the HOA board.
How Cedar Management Group Can Help You Deal With Bullies
HOA boards must maintain a collaborative and harmonious sense of community. Accomplishing this feat will not come easy when there are obstructions in the board’s path. Bullies can cause friction, which can grow into an uncontrollable flame when left unaddressed. However, as you can see, there are several ways to deal with bullies on your HOA board. And on days when it feels like anger will take over you, take a deep breath and stay composed. Solve the problem with respect and in a civil manner. This way, you also do not lose the respect of your peers.
Cedar Management Group has extensive experience managing HOAs located all over the United States. One of our strengths is integrating a viable strategy to manage bullying and conflicts within your HOAs. By doing so, we can offer each community we manage to have satisfied residents who trust their community management.