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How to Deal with Board Conflicts

Boards are made up of different people with different personalities and opinions.  Ideally, the board should be a group of people who work together efficiently despite differences in opinions.  However, the reality is that conflict between individual board members occurs from time to time.  When this happens, it is important to remember the big picture and that all board members share the same goal of improving the community.

Perhaps you have a board member who complains and dissents to each issue or decision you make.  Or, a board member who “knows it all” and cannot be convinced otherwise.  Maybe you have an un-involved board member who rarely speaks up or even shows up.  No matter the personality, each person handles conflict in a different way, so it is helpful to consider several different approaches to conflict resolution.

In the event you have a “complainer” on the board, try to encourage them to suggest solutions to the problem instead of griping about it.  If a board member is a know-it-all, consider their experience and ideas, but talk to them about changing their tone of voice to avoid steam-rolling others in the process.  Encourage any board member who is un-involved to contribute more.  Set deadlines and specific goals for board members who have trouble making decisions.

Being on the board is a rewarding experience, but may be difficult when internal conflict arises.  Overall, when dealing with conflicts or difficult board members, it is important to step back and see the shared goal of making the community the best it can be.