Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Quick Tips to Prevent Conflict

Are you living in a Home Owners Association (HOA)?

Are you familiar with your Associations responsibility to provide IDR - Internal Dispute Resolution?

California Civil Code §1363.830 requires an Association provide a fair, reasonable and expeditious procedure for resolving disputes between the association and its members without charging a fee to the member participating in the process.

This means that any member of an HOA, who has a dispute with the Board, has the right to a conflict resolution process; and the cost must be borne by the Association.

Keep your Association costs down and consensus high by following these 4 Tips to Preventing Conflict:

1. Listen - Part of listening is working toward understanding. As a board member you may be tired of hearing complaints or the same old argument from a homeowner. Rather than tuning the person out, if you keep hearing the same information, ask him/her "What about that is important to you?" or "What am I not understanding about your concern?" You may not always learn something of critical importance, but by making the other person feel heard, you will give them peace of mind that you understand their concern.

2. Restate - Closely tied with listening, restating proves to the other person that clarity and understanding have been achieved. In the absence of this effort, others may view disagreement as misunderstanding - and continue to try to explain their position or concern. Restating does not imply agreement, but comprehension, and works both ways to ensure that communication is clearly articulated and understood. Restating may sound like this, "You're saying that... did I get that right?" Use restating whenever disagreements spark to be sure that the problem isn't simply miscommunication.

3. Make Requests not Demands - The moment you tell someone they 'have to do', or 'aren't allowed to do' something, they resist. It harkens back to our childhood and our desire for independence. We fight back and make emotional, not rational decisions. However, when you request that they do, or not do something, it's a different story. When you make a request, explain your reasons clearly, and ask them to join you. Handling it in this way creates a partnership of sorts, and while it may lead to further discussion, it won't lead to an emotional revolt.

4. Let Them Save Face -Consensus on any issue is hard to achieve, and often decisions will be based on "majority rules". Whether it is one difficult person or a group of homeowners that are unhappy with a decision, be gracious of your "win". Verbally acknowledge that while everyone's wishes were not met, that the decisions made were in the best interests of the Association. Flaunting a win when others are not happy only antagonizes and creates an atmosphere for additional conflict.