When disagreements arise in a community, some rely on a steady stream of e-mail and social media posts directed to an individual; perhaps a condo board, director or condominium manager. There can be false allegations and nasty personal attacks. It can be tempting to directly respond when attacked unfairly. Avoid the temptation to respond but don’t just ignore these attacks.
Saying nothing makes others wonder what is going on. The only version out there is that of the attacker so owners can only guess at the truth. Silence may be interpreted to mean the assertions are valid. Setting the record straight each time means you lose control of the situation and allows the attacker to control your actions. Being on the defensive is not productive or effective.
There is a way for condominium management or the board to deal with false statements and allegations.
Speak with the corporation attorney. Unresolved, the matter could lead to litigation or dangerous actions from the attacker. Get ahead by understanding what legal remedies are available and ensure that further communications don’t put the board, management or the corporation at legal risk.
Look into the attacker’s accusations to determine if there are truths among their statements, lies and misrepresentations. Avoid providing further ammunition by addressing any truths.
Provide owners with an alternative narrative. Acknowledge what they may have heard but avoid repeating lies and personal attacks. Even the denial of false information makes it seem true according to social science research. Present the facts as you see them, and your understanding of the matter calmly and clearly. Never attack the attacker. Presenting a different version of events, when both versions cannot possibly be true, ensures owners cannot choose to believe both versions and will have to choose. Presenting your version well makes owners want to believe you and is affected by your relationship with them. A board or individual that fails to communicate well, or has been known to be dishonest, is less likely to be believed even when telling the truth.
Finally, give owners a way to ask questions. They may not want to ask questions but providing the opportunity makes you appear more credible.
Be sure to communicate with owners as the situation evolves.
Being articulate, calm, focused and confident in communications is the key to fighting against false accusations and lies.