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Does your manager know how to calm tensions and soothe ruffled feathers?
AUTHORAlvin Wasserman, Fairfield Properties
Throwing a fit. There have been many stories of conflict on co-op and condo boards over the years, but the one that stands out took place at an open meeting where the board was making a presentation to the residents. A resident started insulting one of the female board members. Her husband was in the audience, and he was very upset that his wife was being spoken to in this way, so he picked up a table and threw it in the direction of the man who was insulting her.
Temper, temper. Board members are volunteers, and for the most part they sign on to provide service to the community. They’re well intentioned. Most of the time they accept majority rule, and things go pretty well. The problem kicks in when board members are not willing to compromise and egos flare. It could be something minor, like the color of building materials, or it could be something larger, like whether to secure financing for a major capital improvement project. But in either case, if board members are not willing to compromise, things can get out of hand.
Calming the waters. I suggest to my managers that they think of themselves as United Nations workers, sent into a country to try to maintain the peace and resolve a major conflict. But if there’s a shooting war between the two sides, my advice is to duck, keep your head low and don’t take sides. The same thing at co-ops and condos. You’re there as an impartial observer trying to advise and bring peace to the situation. Sometimes it’ll work; sometimes it won’t. I encourage my managers to speak to boards, shareholders and unit-owners and say, “Remember, we’re all on the same team. You’ve got to be able to coexist with your neighbors.”