Monday, September 15, 2008

Do Over

The air was tense. Grave expressions were on each face. The agenda was sticky. But you made it through the first item without anyone yelling or pounding the table. You knew there could be potential for a lot of emotion at this meeting. But so far, so good. As the chair person you are relieved – at least to this point.

One of your board members, Roland, arrived toward the end of your discussion of the first item. Knowing you have fairly good facilitator skills and wanting to appear open and objective, you turn to give him an opportunity to make comments or ask questions before you move to the next agenda item. Boy was that a mistake.

For the next twenty minutes Roland railed. He spewed. He pointed his finger. He kept pounding the condo documents he had brought with him. The anger was pronounced. In fact, it was out of control. The onslaught continued. He never took a breath. In a calm voice, you kept asking him to quiet down, to stop, to let the meeting continue. He thumped, pounded, pointed, and yelled even more. Other board members were becoming involved. You ask for order. They are now yelling even louder than Roland just trying to be heard. Roland still hasn’t taken a breath. You address him directly but he doesn’t stop. Now Roland and another board member are standing pointing fingers at each other. You are in between. You stand with your arms spread in each of their directions signaling them to stop. Nothing is working. Other board members jump in with comments and accusations that have nothing to do with the agenda. Things are getting personal and nasty. This meeting is going down the tubes, and you’ve gone blank.

Oh, for a “do over.”

To read more about how to handle an out of control meeting, you may read the PDF form at

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