Friday, November 27, 2015

What is a Motion?

A motion is a proposal that the association’s membership take action or a position on a specific topic or issue. The following are six types of motions anyone who is a member can make at an association membership meeting:
·         Main motions introduce a specific topic for consideration and cannot be made while another motion is before the group.
·         Subsidiary motions amend or change how to handle a motion that’s already being considered. A subsidiary motion is voted on before the motion it affects is voted on.
·         Privileged motions represent urgent or important matters that take precedence over regular or pending business.
·         Incidental motions are responses to procedure and must be considered before a main motion.
·         Reconsidered motions generally are brought up when there is no other pending business so that the membership can revisit an unresolved issue.
·         A pending motion is one that has been stated by the chair but has not yet been brought to a vote.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to Make Sure You Are Heard at Membership Meetings

All association members have a right to be heard at membership meetings by presenting, seconding, debating and voting on a motion. A motion is a proposal that our membership take action or a position on a specific topic or issue.
To make a motion, wait until the previous person has finished speaking, then stand and address the chair by stating your name. “Mr. Chairman (or Madame President), my name is … .” When the chair recognizes or acknowledges you, state your motion clearly and concisely. “I move that our community … .”
Once you have stated your motion, another member should second it so that debate and discussion on the issue can commence. If no one seconds it, your motion will not be considered. Once it is seconded, the chair will announce the motion so it can either be discussed or voted on.
If the topic is one that will be discussed or debated before voting occurs, then, as the person who introduced the motion, you are allowed to speak first. Direct your comments to the chair and briefly explain the motion. You and other speakers participating in the discussion should respect any predetermined time limit for comments. You may also be the last to speak on the matter.
Voting on the motion can take place when the discussion or debate is completed and the chair asks, “Are you ready for the question?” Members can vote by a show of hands, roll call or ballot. General consent, which assumes consensus that there’s no opposition to the motion, is another method of voting. The chair announces, “If there is no objection …”, and members show their consent by their silence. Those who oppose the motion should speak out politely but audibly, “I object.”
Then the chair announces the results of the vote.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Solve Neighbor Disputes with Mediation

Bruised by a dispute with your neighbor? The occasional conflict is a natural byproduct of living very close to one another. It’s possible to get your disagreement resolved before it escalates and certainly before you end up in court. You should consider mediation—a process that can save you money and aggravation and lead to more peaceful community environment.

In mediation, a neutral third party meets with you and your neighbor, often in an informal setting, to keep everyone focused on solving the problem. Mediation works particularly well by managing expectations; and, generally, the dispute is resolved within a day.

For example, let’s say you’re battling your upstairs neighbor about noise. She works until 2 a.m. and infuriates you by walking around her unit in the wee hours of the morning. Through mediation, each of you can talk, listen and learn about each other. She agrees to take off her shoes when she gets home; and you can call when there is a problem.

A mediators’ first task is to understand how and why the conflict escalated. He or she is trained to search through highly charged responses to understand the crux of the problem. Mediation is about compromise. Be willing to learn and hear. Be open-minded. Mediation tends to fail when people can't get beyond their emotions.

If you go to court, one of you will win and one will lose. If you mediate your differences, both of you will find consensus-based, creative solutions to your problems. And that allows for more harmony in the community.

You can find a qualified mediator in our area by searching on “mediators” in your web browser or in the Yellow Pages.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Traits of Good Board Members

Do you have what it takes to be a good board member? Chances are you do.

If you have a mix of some of the following traits and skills, consider running for a seat on the board. We’d love to have you.

Respect. If you can give others respect and expect it in return, you can help keep board discussions civil, productive and on point. We’re looking for people who can lead by consensus, not by command.

Good listening. People want to be heard. Can you listen to board members and residents with sincere interest? You may have a few ideas of your own, but everyone benefits by sharing and discussing.

Thick skin. Sometimes, residents—even other board members—can be mean and insulting. Are you good at turning a conversation around and finding out what’s really bothering people?

Egos aside. If you can give others credit, the board will operate better as a team.

Agenda aside. Members who come to the board looking to help only themselves are a problem. A board is more productive when members don’t have a personal punch list. Are you able to look after the community, not just your own interests? Are you willing to compromise?

Skill. An association is a business. So having board members with accounting, organizational behavior and teambuilding backgrounds can help. Someone with a financial background, for example, might make for a good treasurer.

The ideal board comprises a mix of management styles, professional skills and temperaments. If you know people with some of these traits or relevant skills, ask them if they’d be interested in joining the board. Some people don’t think about running for a seat unless asked.

You don’t have to know everything when you join, but you should be familiar with the governing documents and the responsibilities of the job. Fellow board members and managers can help you with the transition and train you on board responsibilities, current work, projects and hot issues.

Leaders can come from different places and backgrounds. There’s no one mode that fits all. Share your knowledge and passion with the community.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday Stress (Resolved)

Courtesy of  Dr. Lori Baker-Schena

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” – Frederick Keonig

Society sells the “holiday season” as one filled with never-ending family, food and fun. But for most of us, the “holiday season” is synonymous with stress. We are assaulted with messages that we must buy the perfect gift or hold the perfect party or cook the perfect dinner. And this bombardment seems to come earlier every year.

No WONDER we feel overwhelmed. Before you can finish saying “Happy Labor Day,” fall descends with a thud – with Halloween and Thanksgiving basically bypassed to make way for the Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday season.

It’s the perfect storm of stress. Expectations are high that we should have a HAPPY Hanukkah or a MERRY Christmas, and thus we start adding projects and responsibilities such as baking cookies, decorating the house/office, shopping for gifts (and maybe going into debt), sending holiday cards or planning parties to an already busy work/home life. No wonder it feels like our head is about to explode.

And the price we pay for this stress is the risk of diluting the joy that comes from celebrating the true meaning of the season, and derailing our happiness and contentment because our expectations are too high. The commercialism that accompanies this time of year threatens to suck us into an emotional black hole – where no amount of Black Friday “sales” or store “specials” can save us.
The stress of the season is literally robbing us of the joy that it promises to bring. The solution?  Instead of letting the stress control our lives for the next six weeks, we need to control the stress. And here are five helpful tips:

1.     Get organized – Holiday responsibilities (decorating, cooking, gift giving) are an ADDITION to the responsibilities in our lives, not a replacement. We must work our jobs and raise our families while preparing for the season. So get organized. Sit down this week and create a calendar where you set aside time to get everything done – from gift-buying to card addressing to cooking to wrapping to decorating. Put it ALL down on a calendar.

2.     Don’t put too much on your plate – Be realistic about how much you want to accomplish and don’t try to do too much. You won’t be any fun or any help to anyone if you are too tired and even sick to enjoy the season.

3.     Let go of the guilt – If you can’t make a homemade pie, or don’t have the money to buy everyone gifts, or run out of time to send holiday cards – DON’T FEEL GUILTY. The goal here is to enjoy the season, not run some kind of race. If you buy a store-made pie, or send out an email greeting this year, it certainly isn’t the end of the world.

4.     Continue your healthy habits – Don’t let the stress of the season interfere with your exercise routine or seduce you into eating or drinking more than you really need. Take care of YOURSELF this holiday season.

5.     Be present in the moment – Above all, remember what the season is all about – peace on earth, goodwill to men (and women) and miracles. This is the time to make memories with the people we love, to bask in the knowledge that we are alive, to be grateful for everything we have, to acknowledge and reach out to those who are less fortunate, and to remember the “reason for the season.”

And to CELEBRATE that we made it through another year.

Don’t let stress dilute your joy or derail your peace.

Dr. Lori Baker-Schena is the founder and chief executive officer of Baker Schena Communications, a firm dedicated to “Unleashing Your Potential Through the Power of Words.” We offer motivational speaking, leadership consulting and medical writing services. Find us at