RE: Strategies to deal with a difficult member?
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 09:03:35 -0500
The magic question I ask when I mediate difficult issues is why?  Why are you 
so emotionally caught up in this issue? Why are you angry?  Why are you 
standing in the way of the entire group on this issue?  Why is this worth all 
the negative energy that is going around on this issue. Why are you not 
getting what you need?  Why are you afraid to speak up in meetings?

What I discover, more often than not, is that usually the issue at hand is 
just a carrier for something else. Sometimes its an expression of 
powerlessness, sometimes its a cry for recognition. Sometimes its a 
disillusionment with the lack of support or closeness of the group. Sometimes 
it's a rebellion against domineering personalities that tend to run things and 
like it that way.

Another issue where this comes up is when you have a group that is run and 
dominated by task driven personalities, and they run over the process oriented 
personalities.  People have very distinct personality styles that shapes how 
they approach working with groups, and these are often cause for friction. 
Each personality type has specific needs, and when you learn how to recognize 
these and work with them, the world becomes so much easier. 

To run an effective group process takes work, trained facilitation, and a 
willingness to stand in each others shoes to see what is happening. Have you 
defined the specific behaviors in the person that cause the problem? Have you 
talked with the individual about their behavior and what it does?  Or are you 
just a frustrated task oriented person trying to understand and deal with a 
process oriented person and doing so badly because you have no patience for 

If your group starts becoming dysfunctional and people start not attending 
meetings I reccomend you bring in a good, effective meeting facilitator to 
teach you how to run effective meetings.  I do such a workshop but it requires 
a whole weekend commitment and also quite a bit of actual follow through on 
the tools.

Rob Sandelin
Cedar Village (forming)


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