Re: Follow up after Cue meeting
From: Diana Leafe Christian (
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 2021 12:20:19 -0800 (PST)
Hi Debi, I'm sorry, I don't know which cohousing or other kinds of communities 
who may have such documents on their websites. One way to find this out would 
be to ask in Cohousing-L.  Here's the email to post there: cohousing-l [at]


> On Feb 2, 2021, at 2:12 PM, Deb Kolb <kolbdk2020 [at]> wrote:
> Thanks so much Diana.  I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my 
> question about having a challenging person in the community as a property 
> owner.   I will share all of this great information with Cue members.  
> For our basic written guidelines for the community at large, can you suggest 
> other cohousing communities that have guidelines on their website that may be 
> helpful in crafting our communication and conflict resolution guidelines?
> Thanks again, so much!
> Debi
> Gainesville CoHousing
> On Mon, Feb 1, 2021 at 3:45 PM Diana Leafe Christian <diana [at]> 
> wrote:
> Hi Debi, 
> I'm sorry, it wasn't your email address. I've just been swamped with work and 
> your request got by me. 
> Re what you described, "if a problematic situation persists and the member is 
> a property owner and refuses to abide by agreements and refuses to leave," a 
> situation like this doesn't usually resolve itself with good communication 
> agreements. That's because no amount of agreements, or kind of agreements, 
> usually affects the behavior of someone who ignores agreements. Either 
> ignores them because s/he thinks they're bad agreements, or for revenge or 
> rebellion, or because they believe they're a special, entitled person and 
> such agreements should not actually apply to them.  
> I'm the process of writing an article series for Communities magazine on 
> this, "Dealing Effectively with Especially Challenging Behaviors." Forgive me 
> if I told you this already. I haven't finished writing the first article in 
> the series (or maybe I sent you the rough draft of it earlier?), but anyway 
> I'll share this information with you in any consultations we have.
> In the meantime, I've got some workshop handouts about communication 
> agreements and reducing certain kind of behaviors, attached below. 
> The best conflict resolution method I know about is Restorative Circles, 
> which I believe is quite effective in resolving conflicts between what I'd 
> call "normal people," but not with someone who triggers conflict, won't abide 
> by agreements, and won't leave either (as their property rights protect them 
> from any consequences). I'm very familiar with a cohousing community who had 
> this problem. They resolved it to some degree by changing from classic, 
> traditional consensus to sociocracy. But unfortunately they didn't do 
> socicoracy very accurately or consistently, and also, only did it partially!, 
> for a while, and while things were a little better, they weren't that much 
> better. Finally I did a review workshop-consultation for them, and later my 
> colleague, John Schinnerer did another review workshop-consultation for them, 
> and they're now doing better. Their problem person is not on any committees 
> (circles) anymore, as she alienated the other people in each circle she was a 
> part of and they asked her to leave the circle, as there is a provision for 
> doing this in sociocracy. (Which is why this community chose sociocracy.) 
> This problem woman would also come to other circle's meetings, insist on 
> speaking a long time, insist on getting her way in their circle's activities, 
> and cause a lot of conflict and confusion. Their meetings would end in 
> confusion and discouragement, with nothing accomplished.
> So they came up with the 2-minute rule. Each visitor to a circle, like her or 
> anyone who sat in on a circle meeting, could speak for up to 2 minutes and no 
> more at the beginning of the meeting (they timed it with their cell phones), 
> and then had to stop talking. They weren't allowed to  interrupt the meeting, 
> interject their opinions, insert their own topic on the agenda, argue with 
> others who were circle members when they expressed their views, and so on. 
> This worked, though the facilitator of each of the circles this woman would 
> sit in on had to be firm, kind, respond immediately to infractions, and be 
> consistent, like a good parent. When the facilitator caved in to her 
> aggression, none of these rules helped at all. 
> So, in my experience, working effectively with a person who's willing to do 
> things like this is first, to change the governance and decision-making 
> method to something else that doesn't allow people to disrupt meetings 
> because of the checks and balances against it. And second, to actually apply 
> their new governance method.
> Also, doing this only helps in committee meetings and whole-group meetings. 
> (In sociocracy, for example, there are several different checks and balances 
> that help curb disruptive, aggressive, or manipulative behaviors in meetings, 
> like whole-group meetings, when the person is in the meeting, since all 
> community members, even those not in committees, can participate in 
> whole-community meetings.)
> But using something like sociocracy only reduces such behaviors in meetings 
> themselves. It doesn't help such behaviors when the person might accost 
> someone in the parking lot, or at a community meal or in the laundry room. 
> For this, the members of that cohousing community had to do something else, 
> which I can tell you about when we talk.
> I realize though, that the difficult person you're speaking of may not be 
> doing behaviors like this at all, but may be violating community agreements 
> about pets, parking spaces, quiet hours, or use of the Common House, and so 
> on. Which governance and decision-making methods don't address.
> For challenges like this, there are two things I can recommend. One is doing 
> petitions, described in the handout below, "Alliances, Petitions, and 'The 
> Three Treasures' of Community'."  Another is when many different people ask 
> the person to please stop doing X or Y thing they do. The handout for this is 
> "Many Raindrops Make a Flood." Most members of most cohousing communities 
> wouldn't want to do these methods though, unfortunately. We can talk about 
> this when we talk.
> Again, if your problem person does disruptive things in meetings, it can help 
> a lot to learn sociocracy and try it for a while to see if the community 
> likes it, but this only helps with meetings. In any case, here's more 
> informaton about that. Our Feb 8-April 12 course filled and is closed, and 
> our next 10-week Sociocracy Course is scheduled for Monday evenings, May 10 - 
> July 12, same times, same prices ($245-$445 sliding scale), with the Early 
> Bird Discount of $225 per person through February 28. The registration site 
> isn't ready yet but will be soon.
> Thanks again for checking in, Debi, and please forgive that I missed your 
> previous email!
> All good wishes,
> Diana
>> On Jan 31, 2021, at 6:30 PM, Deb Kolb <kolbdk2020 [at]> wrote:
>> Hi Diana,
>> I am just following up.  I realize I may have confused you as I changed my 
>> email address.  I am forwarding the email I sent last week to you.
>> Thanks and hope you are well,
>> Debi
>> On Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 9:20 PM Deb Kolb <kolbdk2020 [at]> wrote:
>> Hi Diana,
>> Cue met and everyone was very grateful for your response and feedback.  We 
>> are in process of of writing protocols for our Cue manual and agreements to 
>> address communication and conflict resolution. We have already written basic 
>> conflict resolution protocol.  We are looking at Heartwood website at their 
>> guidelines and agreements.  
>> Would you have a recommendation for other communities that have written 
>> agreements/protocols of this sort?  We are curious what communities do if a 
>> problematic situation persists and the member is a property owner and 
>> refuses to abide by agreements and refuses to leave.
>> Our circle is open to a consult with you once we look at ways other 
>> communities are handling these things.
>> Thanks again,
>> Debi Kolb

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