Anger Management Taming the Not So Politically Correct

 For most people, “foaming at the mouth” is just a figure of speech. Attorney Ellen Hirsch de Haan, a managing partner  in the Tampa Bay, Florida office of Becker & Poliakoff PA, has encountered the real thing—and not at an animal shelter, but at a condominium owners’ meeting.  

 A former president who recently had been voted off the board began angrily  pacing between the board table and the assembled unit owners. He got so upset  he was literally frothing, Hirsch de Haan says—so she responded by “circling the wagons.”  

 “I gathered all the board members around the table, and we talked very quietly,” she explains. The man continued to rant and rave. After a few minutes, one of  the non-board unit owners piped up and said, “Hey buddy, would you sit down and shut up? We want to hear what’s going on.” The former board member responded by leaving, slamming the door on his way out.  “The audience burst into spontaneous applause,” says Hirdsch de Haan,  

 When Frasier Crane, the stuffy TV psychiatrist played by Kelsey Grammer, ran  afoul of his condo board president, much hilarity ensued. But as condo boards  and management staff have to deal with increasing levels of anger – both in their day-to-day exchanges and scheduled meetings—it’s not exactly laughing matter. Knowing how to defuse hostility and taking steps  to prevent it in the first place are both talents that every board should have  in its skill set.  

 Rising Tensions

 As last summer’s town hall meetings on health care demonstrated so vividly, amped-up tensions  are hardly exclusive to co-op or condo board meetings. The decline in civility  in America has been widely lamented for at least the past decade, and has been  in the works for much longer, according to P.M. Forni, a professor and  co-founder of the Civility Project at Johns Hopkins University. In an article  that appeared last fall in the American Association of Retired Persons AARP  Bulletin Today, Forni lays the blame for much of today's pervasive rudeness and  quick tempers to post-Baby Boomers' overdeveloped sense of entitlement, but  also to the sense of detachment our reliance on electronic communication and  mass media has wrought.  

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