Growing up, we're taught the golden rule of "treat others how you want to be treated". As we grow older and encounter various personality types, this saying can become harder to stick to.
So what happens when you sit on a building's co-op board and egos start flying, and personalities are tested in not so positive ways?
How to Not Get Stuck in Negative Energy
Co-op board members typically get elected for their experience and ability to handle the position bestowed upon them. Not for their ability to receive constructive criticism, use effective communication, or abilities to think before they speak.
So, what happens when you’ve been elected as a board member and you go to your first co-op board meeting only to learn that the various egos and personalities are causing internal strife and disagreements?
Navigating through these issues is a true testament to your current position. It is important as a board member that you don't get sucked into the negative conversations and actions taken by others.
Instead it’s a best to evaluate the situation and quickly get back to the current topic at hand. Getting everyone back on task will help move past personal disagreements and put the focus back on doing what is best for all residents.
Ultimately, the co-op board president should then pull those involved aside after the meeting and discuss proper meeting etiquette for all future meetings. It may even be a good idea to create a working document which should outline etiquette, rules, respect, and overall set the tone of how the co-op board should run meetings and interact with each other. If your board works with a reliable property management company, you may be able to ask them for a template for such a document, as most professional property management companies work very closely with several co-op boards.
The Cooperator published an article which gives advice on how to deal with rude and unruly board members. Although long and over six years old, still timely and well worth the read if you find yourself serving on a co-op board that feels more like a war zone.
Can You Get Demoted for Speaking Your Truth?
While serving as a co-op board member you’ll be asked to participate in approving or not approving current issues or projects. If you disagree with the general consensus, you should still feel comfortable and confident enough to speak your truth and justify why you feel a certain way regarding a specific vote or action. All co-op board members must feel confident and free to stick to the values and opinions they have. It is imperative, for the well being of the building and it's residents that all board members operate in an honest and transparent manner that encourages discussion and debate.
Should a board member use profanity, unprofessionalism, personal attacks, racist or derogatory remarks, that will cause other board members to not only feel uncomfortable, but be detrimental to making the best decisions for the building, its probably wise for the board president to ask for the disruptive board member's resignation.
If you’ve had a sticky situation in one of your board member meetings and you’d like outside advice on what is the proper action to take, contact All Area Realty.
All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.