Re:Strategies to deal with a difficult member?
From: Daniel Nachbar (
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 14:06:29 -0500
> She demands, we give in.
> We bend over backwards to accomodate her, yet she feels like a victim.

We have had quite a few totally unreasonable demands from several members
over the years.  The response, as with my 5-year-old son is always
"I love you but, no, you may not have the cookie (or toy or whatever)".
The unreasonable member (or 5-year-old) will scream loudly and protest about
"unfairness".  But in the end, we are all better off for having well
defined boundries.

If your neighbor acts like bratty child, treat them
as you would any other bratty child.  Simply don't give in.

One mental trick is to visualize the unreasonable member(s) as
shrieking children rather than full grown adults.  It is easier to keep ones
balance.  It is easier to forgive the bad behaviour.  And it can also add a
bit of humor (even if you are only chuckling to yourself) to an otherwise
tense conflict.

The old line about "concensus is having your say, not having your way" is
a nice touchstone in these situations.

Not that any of this is easy or fun.  I remember a meeting dealing
with one particularly outrageous demand.  I wound up being the solitary
voice of reason for almost 2 hours of saying "No cookie" before others
in the group worked up the courage to join in to a chorus of "no".
(The demand was being made by one of the founding members and I was one
of the newest members at the time - too new to "know better" I suppose.)
It was a horrific affair with emotional blackmail, implicit threats of
destruction of the group, etc.  But in the end, the unresonable demand was
seen as such (by all but the person making the demand) and I believe our
group is much healthier for having said no.

On other occassions, "no" has come much more easily.  I don't understand why
some cases are so much harder than others.  But the answer is almost never
to give in to unreasonable demands.

Dan Nachbar
Pioneer Valley Cohousing at Cherry Hill
Amherst, MA

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