No one likes to be picked on, but in meetings sometimes, particularly meetings where there are established, self-interested cliques in control who exclude other lot owners, cruelty to other people happens.
You can be part of the solution
You can be part of the solution to this problem by standing up for people who are being picked on, and it is best if you do not have to do it alone. If possible, make a pact with a friend before the meeting that, when you see someone being picked on or excluded in a mean way, you’ll either ask the person who is being picked on to join in with you (you both may decide to go and sit beside them), or you’ll say something to the person who is acting mean, objecting to that behaviour. That is what advocates do. They help out rather than remain silent.
If you are not confident about speaking up, practice beforehand in front of the bathroom mirror. Try to talk confidently without breaking down or losing your temper. Object through the meeting’s chairperson (even if that person is the perpetrator) strongly to the behaviour, not to the person who is carrying out that behaviour. Remind everyone at the meeting that in a democracy we all have an equal right to be treated with respect and that we are entitled to have different points of view and we should be able to express our views without being belittled or harassed for doing so. It is important that all viewpoints are taken into account before decisions are taken. Civilised people listen respectfully to others and do not agree to others being put down or scorned at.(Please feel free to bring this book with you to the meeting and quote these words directly if you want to) If necessary, formally call the Chairman on a point of order requesting the chair to pull the meeting into line and if that does not happen and the situation is out-of-hand, move a vote of no-confidence in the chair, citing a lack of control of the meeting.
Many people are afraid to stand up for someone else because they think they’ll end up getting picked on themselves. But that will change if more and more people decide to stand up and speak out for others. It is so important not to look the other way when we see mean behaviour, and it is critically important to be kind ourselves.
Standing up for someone else is the highest form of courage. Your “courage muscle” strengthens each time you use it, making room for more courage to come in. By being an advocate you become stronger and more courageous on the inside and your self-respect grows.
By speaking up for someone who’s being picked on, you become part of the solution. By simply standing by and watching, you’re part of the problem. Here’s why: people who pick on others like an audience. By saying nothing, or by laughing, you actually encourage their cruel behaviour. Remaining silent sends the message that picking on people is just fine. Laughing sends the message that picking on people is cool, even entertaining. But being cruel is never cool.
This section’s major source: Peaceful Parents Newsletter by Naomi Drew firstname.lastname@example.org