Re: Last resort dealing with very difficult member
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Sun, 17 May 2015 08:48:41 -0700 (PDT)
> On May 16, 2015, at 7:59 PM, Fred-List manager <fholson [at] cohousing.org> 
> wrote:
> 
> Many communities have had difficult members. Usually members who do not like 
> the people and/or the process eventually leave. But what are
> one's options when they don't and won't? I'm talking about a situation that 
> has persisted after years of good faith attempts to mediate, facilitate, 
> outreach, accomodate, non-violently communicate: you name it. And we still 
> have a member who is contentious, adversarial, litigious: threats of 
> lawsuits, unfounded allegations taken to local police and courts (even when 
> always found to be baseless).

Have you tried ignoring them? Be kind and polite but ignore threats, demands, 
etc. Even offer to do kind things like help with yard maintenance, etc., but 
don’t respond to conversations or in any other way engage with any threats, 
bargaining, fruitless explanations, etc. (The book written by the SuperNanny is 
very helpful in this regard. You don’t argue two year olds. You explain once 
and that’s it. Time out.)

When the behavior is unreasonable, take time out yourself. Leave the situation. 
If it is physically harmful or dangerous, call the police. That’s why we have 
police — to maintain harmony and save people from themselves. Policing isn’t 
just about arresting people. 

One of our parents was at his wits end because his teenager was stealing and 
people wouldn’t call the police or file police reports. Finally when they did, 
the police were much more persuasive by kindly explaining to the teen what the 
consequences of his behavior would be. They even took time to talk to him 
through a bathroom door because he had locked himself in and was yelling that 
he wasn’t listening. Then the parent received intervention help from public 
programs for teenagers.

This person is getting something they want or need by this behavior—there is a 
reward in there. One option, might be to have a community meeting in which you 
bring in a behavioral psychologist to explore the situation — both the 
community’s willingness to put up with this, and the possible reasons for the 
person’s persistence. View it as a co-dependent situation. (Codependent was the 
buzz word of the 1970s but maybe it does apply.)

We had a community meeting (without the psychologist) to discuss the harmful 
behavior of an out-of-control teenager years ago. We found out that the parent 
had been preventing the child from going to live with his mother, which was at 
least part of the problem. The meeting provided the parent with support, 
emphasized to the parent that the situation was intolerable, and brought the 
membership together to take some actions that made us feel safer. The mother 
was invited for visits to convince the father that she was off drugs and 
behaving responsibly, and the child was allowed to go live with her. The two 
younger children were allowed to do the same thing before they started making 
life as miserable for us as it was for them.

It sounds like you have tried the reasonable methods of resolving the conflict 
yourselves. It’s time for professional help. Love is not enough. 

Sharon
----
Sharon Villines, Washington DC

"Behavior is determined by the prevailing form of decision making." Gerard 
Endenburg





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