Dear idiot: How to manage angry emails

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When is a determined owner an email pest? Or, to put it another way, how do you tell the difference between someone with a legitimate complaint, who won’t let it go, and a resident who writes long, abusive letters and emails and then sends even more when they are not answered immediately?

Anyone who has spent a few years on a committee, or has worked as a strata manager for more than a couple of months, will recognize the dilemma.

Part of the problem is, the person with the legitimate complaint may also be a serial mud-slinger.  In fact, a valid complaint adds fuel to ferocious diatribes, and the righteous letter writer may well use  failure to respond to their missives as ‘proof’ that there is a conspiracy against them.

On the other hand, the committee, overwhelmed by complaints and accusations, can be forgiven for going into their collective shells, partially out of concern that if they make a misstep, they will invite even more abuse.

“We have a very difficult new investor-owner who bombards the manager, committee and other owners with emails and threats,” writes Magpie on the Flat Chat Forum.

“Long emails covering many issues and grievances may arrive on Friday afternoon but before you can respond there is a new long email on Monday … containing more allegations and threats.  Any advice?”

One suggestion on the Forum was to ask the complainer what they wanted, how they thought that might be achieved, who they thought might pay for this, and if they would be prepared to give up their time to oversee the implementation of the plan.

Another was to simply write one email or letter saying “your correspondence is being considered” and then a week later, having checked to make sure it’s not a legitimate complaint as well as a rant, send another saying it has been considered and it has been decided to take no further action.

And for those of you who have been bashing away at a keyboard and getting no response from your EC, remember you can always take them to the tribunal (NCAT) for orders under Section 138 of the strata Act, forcing them to consider an issue.

But all concerned would do well to remember the old adage, “never ascribe to malice anything that can just as easily be caused by stupidity”.

There’s a lot more on this here on the Forum.

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