Life in a condo building presents a unique living arrangement where sooner or later, conflicts and disputes are bound to arise. From noise, to children, pets, and parking, there are many things neighbors in building communities disagree on.
When issues occur, remember that, as an HOA board member, patience and communication always prevail. By managing your reactions, listening, and asking the right questions, your community and board will always come to a resolution. Here are some useful tips for handling difficult situations.
1. Be accessible
If a resident feels they can never reach you, they’ll easily get frustrated. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should be accessible all the time. However, during your business hours, try to respond rapidly to resident phone calls or emails.
2. Listen like a friend
Whether the concerns of the resident are legitimate or not, let them talk. Sometimes people just want to be heard, without a solution, so employing empathy is paramount.
3. Be understanding
You want residents to feel that you are on their side. If a resident gives you a complaint, whatever it may be, thank them for their input and assure them that they have been heard. Be sure to let the person feel that their complaint matters to you and that you want to help them fix the situation.
4. Follow up complaints
As an HOA board member, you should always follow up on neighbor complaints. Try to do it as early as possible to prevent any escalation between the neighbors.
5. Prioritize problems
This being said, another important factor is how quickly you respond to a resident’s issue. You don’t necessarily need to drop everything to remedy every complaint, but you do need to fix issues in a timely manner. Always prioritize. For instance, a leaking roof probably needs to be fixed sooner than a landscaping issue.
6. Be direct
Always be sure you find out what the complaining person actually wants. If they’re only venting, feel free to ask direct questions to turn the conversation constructive. This approach helps identify goals and it builds trust. Listen carefully to what they are saying and ask yourself “what is really going on here?”. If you can get to the bottom of what is truly bothering the individual, you will be able to better address the situation.
The HOA can play a significant role in de-escalating conflicts between neighbors. Your mediation can help calm an angry neighbor and make the community peaceful once again. Assure both parties that you understand their point of view and try to help them come to a compromise.
8. Be honest
Your HOA board needs to focus on outcomes and sometimes that means compromising along the way. Always ask “What does this community need?”, and then focus on accomplishing that. Only promise things you are fairly sure you can fulfill in the near future.
9. Hold Your Ground
If you think somebody’s complaint is not legitimate, don’t give in to them just to get them out of your hair. Instead, hold your ground in a constructive and appropriate manner.
10. Take a deep breath
Sometimes this is not easy, but if you or the board immediately get defensive in response to a difficult person, you’re likely making matters worse. Before you say anything, take a deep breath, and respond in a constructive and calm way. Giving calm and rational responses can go a long way and can calm even an aggressive person down.
We know how important it is for an association to run smoothly, and we know how disruptive difficult people or behavior can be. If you’d like advice or input on your situation, we’re happy to help. Click here to reach out to us about Association Management services and someone in our team will be in touch with you!