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Dennis from Leicester, UK, has asked the following question:

Minutes of a meeting have been completely dissected and negatively commented upon in writing to wider membership by a member who did not attend the meeting or even send apologies. Can someone do this? And how do we respond to the member?

If the minutes are publicly available, there is not a lot you can do. If you have a code of conduct, then you may be able to find a clause in there that enables you to “reprimand” or “discipline” a person, but that is unlikely. Codes of conduct also usually apply to office bearers and not ordinary members anyway.

If the person has, in your opinion,  actually defamed anyone, then you may be wise to seek legal advice along those lines. This will, however, open a can of worms that may not be worth opening – long and nasty – better not to go there if you can avoid it.

I suggest you look at the situation from the big picture perspective. Look through a telescope, not a microscope. What is the person’s intent in doing what they did? Then think through their need – is it a need for attention, is it a need to “big note” themselves, is it a need to show that they know more than other people, is it a need to “vent” because of some past issue about which felt aggrieved????????

Once you work out their intention and need, then you can start to deal with the behaviour.

I always think a chat over a cup of tea or coffee can resolve the majority of disputes. I know that sounds simplistic, but often the issue is, when boiled down, quite simple or just a misunderstanding. I am not suggesting this one is necessarily, but you never know until you try and talking can at least give you an understanding of their point of view if you don’t go into the conversation defensively. Go in seeking to understand their concern.

Finally, determine the person’s influence in the membership community. You may find this is a person who has limited credibility and/or influence so it may be worth doing nothing.

Please Note: The author accepts no responsibility for anything which occurs directly or indirectly as a result of using any of the suggestions or procedures detailed in this blog. This is not, and should not be taken as legal advice. All suggestions and procedures are provided in good faith as general guidelines only and should be used in conjunction with appropriate advice, relevant legislation, constitutions, rules, laws, by-laws, etc and with reasonable judgement. If you are in any doubt, seek appropriate advice.

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