Dear Amy: I sit on a community board. All board members are volunteers. Most have professional careers and are adept at having healthy and respectful discussions.
One person on the board has become aggressive and uncooperative. He puts down other members' opinions, sends hostile emails, and presents his own opinion as the only way to proceed.
The other board members have discussed how to handle this person so that we can do our work in a healthy, respectful environment, but no one wants to say anything to him for fear of engaging him in argument.
Your suggestions on how to handle this situation?
– Board Over a Barrel
Dear Board: The first thing to consider is what might be at the root of this person’s dissension. Is this board member attempting to advocate about one particular issue, or has he become disruptive across all topics? Is he wrestling with health issues or cognitive decline?
If there is truly no one on this board who is capable of confronting this issue, then you should all face the possibility that this hostility and disruption at the board level may damage your institution overall and could actually sink your organization altogether.
If the mere possibility of engaging in an argument with him is too frightening for any of you to contemplate, then he wins.
Isn’t your cause important enough for board members to stand up for it?
Your board leadership should deal with this quickly, and in-person. Two board members should meet with the person, present copies of offensive or hostile emails, and tell him that while his opinion on board matters is valuable, his hostility is undermining both his point of view and the important work of the organization.
Read through your by-laws and follow them.
If things don’t improve, see if he can be removed from the board.
Dear Amy: I am in the process of divorcing my second husband.
My first marriage happened when I was too young; we divorced when I was 29.
I was single until I was 48 and married at age 50.
This man was the love of my life. Over the course of eight years, I found out that he was doing some bad things, and I couldn't stay with him.
I filed for divorce. I was devasted.
I'd like to be friends with him, but for him, friendship with me causes him to automatically assume that we will be together.
We live in a small town. I don't know how to walk the line between friendship and no contact.
I want to support him, but do not want to partner with him, ever again. We share animals, all of which are with me. He wants to be involved; this means he's over almost every weekend.
I don't feel I have any peace. How do I handle this without hurting his feelings?
– In a Quandary
Dear Quandary: I wonder why you are so worried about hurting this man’s feelings when, according to you, he is very much the guilty party leading to your divorce, which has left you devastated.
Either you are simply the nicest person in the world, or you currently lack the strength to put your own peace of mind over the possibility of your ex’s hurt feelings.
Because your ex seems to want to rekindle the intimate relationship, you should build some strong boundaries now, in order to possibly build on a platonic friendship later.
Sharing custody of the pets where they spend some time in his home (instead of him visiting them at your home) is one way to create some distance.
If that is not possible and you agree for him to visit the pets at your home, you might choose to run errands while he is there.
You should reduce your contact with him to a series of cordial interactions. A friendship might then grow from that, but if he can’t handle it you’ll have to further limit contact with him.
Dear Amy: I got teary reading the question from “Distant Grandmother,” whose daughter had died young, and now that daughter’s daughter was rejecting her.
Thank you for helping her to understand that teens lack the perspective and wherewithal to respond to an elder’s needs, and for encouraging this grandmother to find ways to connect.
I still feel terrible that I didn’t respond to my own Grannie’s cards and letters. I was so self-absorbed! I’m glad she didn’t give up on me.
Dear Grateful: I hope your Grannie was around to receive your gratitude.
©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.