Honest, effective communication is one of the best ways to alleviate conflict and potential confrontations. One of the key components to effective communication is listening. When a Board member or members have a point to make, let them make it. Let the Board member who is speaking know that he or she has the other Board members’ full attention and focus. Assure the speaker that the goal of the other Board members is to understand his or her concern.
The Board members who are listening should be careful to control or set aside their own emotions and should be careful that their body language is indicative of someone who is interested in what the speaker has to say. While the speaker is making his or her point, try not to mentally argue with him or her before he or she has finished speaking. Listen intently and then give feedback on the speaker’s ideas in an effort to confirm that there is understanding of the speaker’s point – focus on the point and not on the person.
Sometimes effective communication between Board members may still leave some concerns unresolved. Or, perhaps the concern requires expertise above and beyond the Board’s knowledge. In this case, guidance from a neutral third-party may bring the proper resolution. Your Community Manager, or even a Community Association attorney, a City Mediator or a City Planner, could be a good neutral fact-finder for the Board.
There may also be times when an issue just cannot be settled on that particular day or at that particular Board meeting because a Board member or members may not be ready to set aside his or her emotional position related to the issue in question. Some conflict resolution simply takes time. When this is the case, it is best not to “beat a dead horse” – bringing in the experts for fact finding, followed by a presentation at the next Board meeting, may make the most sense.