Every homeowners association, at one time or another, has at least one resident who is difficult to deal with. You know the type – we sometimes refer to them as “Barkers and Biters.”  These are the individuals who never agree with anything!  As far as they are concerned, everyone else is always wrong and they are not going to back off until you see things their way.

Without a doubt, these individuals can be a difficult to work with.  However, it is possible to effectively communicate with these folks.  Here are 5 tips for boards, managers, and homeowners to use when dealing with aggressive residents:

  1. Stay calm.  One of the worst things you can do when confronted with a Barker and Biter is immediately react and engage with them on their level.  You don’t want to become a Barker and Biter yourself!  Instead, take a deep breath and make sure you are calm before addressing these difficult individuals.
  2. Listen Carefully.  Many times you will find that an angry or aggressive resident feels like he or she has not been heard and is just plain fed up.  Whether the concerns of the resident are legitimate or not – be quiet and let them talk.  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.
  3. Hold Your Ground.  Often times these individuals are bullies who have become extremely adept at getting their way.  If their position on an issue is wrong, don’t give into them just to get them out of your hair.  Instead, hold your ground in a constructive and appropriate manner.
  4. Wait Out Their Outbursts.  When a Barker and Biter is going off on a tirade, quietly wait out their outburst and then say something like, “I can see this is upsetting to you.  However, let’s try to talk about this calmly.”
  5. Be Upfront.  When a Barker and Biter makes an inappropriate comment, be upfront with the individual and say “That comment does not help the situation.  Let’s try something else.”

In most cases, these techniques will assist you in communicating effectively with difficult people.  However, if you are faced with an individual who is verbally abusive and refuses to behave in a constructive manner – your best bet is to end the communication and tell the person you are willing to revisit the issue when they can behave in a calm and appropriate manner.

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