decorum

Insulting body language – what to do

By Ann Macfarlane / July 26, 2023 / Comments Off on Insulting body language – what to do

Dear Dinosaur:  We have a board member who rolls their eyes, sighs, shrugs their shoulders or grimaces while others are speaking. How can this be addressed? Answer: The rules of parliamentary procedure, and specifically Robert’s Rules of Order, require that all members of a body show courtesy and respect. We suggest requesting that the board…

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Don’t attack or criticize the staff in public

By Ann Macfarlane / November 17, 2022 / Comments Off on Don’t attack or criticize the staff in public
man shaking finger

Several local government officials have recently described to us situations where elected officials are criticizing and attacking the staff during public meetings. This must not happen. Councilmembers and board members must respect the role of the administrative head of the organization (mayor, city manager, general manager, etc.). They may not criticize the staff in public.…

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Ann’s podcast interview, “Running Amazing Council Meetings,” with Jim Hunt

By Ann Macfarlane / September 7, 2022 / Comments Off on Ann’s podcast interview, “Running Amazing Council Meetings,” with Jim Hunt

I had the pleasure this summer of a lively conversation with Jim Hunt, host of “Amazing Cities and Towns” podcast. Jim is a former mayor and councilmember in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and past president of the National League of Cities. He brought a candid eye,  wide experience, and sharp insights to our discussion. We talked…

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Citizen attacks fellow citizen, swears – what can be done?

By Ann Macfarlane / March 5, 2021 /

Dear Dinosaur:  During public comment at a virtual meeting, one citizen was making blasphemous comments about another citizen in attendance, was escalating in emotion, and calling him names and added a few cuss words.  Then he pulls out pictures and past memos, etc.  I’m clear about allowing the citizen his freedom of speech.  He can…

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Hostages of her ranting

By Ann Macfarlane / March 1, 2021 /

Dear Dinosaur: One board member was dissatisfied with the way the bylaws amendment process was handled. At the membership meeting, she proceeded to monopolize the meeting and refused to stop having the conversation. So we were all hostages of her ranting. Is there anything to do? Answer: At a meeting, a member of an organization has…

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How disagreeable are your meetings?

By Ann Macfarlane / February 16, 2021 / Comments Off on How disagreeable are your meetings?

We had some wild stories at our workshop on “difficult board chair or member.” One person commented, “Seems like Zoom makes all interactions tougher and bolder.” While the norm has not descended to the level of the Handforth Parish Council (see this internet sensation here, or search for “Jackie Weaver”), clearly many meetings are problematic.…

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When public pressure is intense, what can you do?

By Ann Macfarlane / January 21, 2021 /

At a recent workshop, a director from a school board split by pandemic-related decisions asked me what board members can do in the face of intense public pressure. These are tough times for local non-partisan government bodies, for sure. Here are some thoughts about what can be done. Download PDF Listen to your constituents, while…

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How to be objective about subjective comments

By Ann Macfarlane / September 28, 2020 /

  What can you do when your colleagues on a board or council say things that you find offensive? What if they are making subjective statements that hurt your feelings? We are living in tough times for civility. People feel free to say things during meetings that can be offensive and challenging. Robert’s Rules of…

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“That’s a bold-faced lie”

By Ann Macfarlane / July 27, 2020 / Comments Off on “That’s a bold-faced lie”

  It beats me how people can say that parliamentary procedure is boring. An article about a recent meeting of Branson Missouri aldermen is full of interest (read it here). The most gripping moment, from my perspective, is when the City Administrator says the following: “He’s not going to stand up there and lie about…

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Can you kick a member out of a membership meeting?

By Ann Macfarlane / May 29, 2020 / Comments Off on Can you kick a member out of a membership meeting?

Nonprofit membership organizations sometimes are plagued with members who create difficulties at meetings. What can you do about that? Can you kick a member out of a membership meeting? And if so, how? Our article, Dealing with difficult members, lays the groundwork for this post. Download PDF Rights and responsibilities Attending membership meetings is one…

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