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Meeting Decorum,


marie123
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I am VP of a non-profit organization, we are a small board and follow Roberts rules, without being too formal. Our Chair was absent at our meeting on Sunday, and I was asked to Chair the board meeting.  I asked a question about one of our directors reports, who became very angry, and her spouse (who is also a director) also became very angry, and both personally attacked me in the meeting, bringing me to tears, and unable to continue the meeting at that time. I called for a 5 minute recess to regain my composure, and left the meeting for the 5 minutes. I know I should have called a point of order, but was honestly unable to even think at the time. Should another member have called a point of order at the time to maintain decorum? If this should happen again, what would the correct procedure be? Also would it be prudent to send out a memo to the board today, with a reminder on proper meeting decorum, and how it is to be handled?

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14 minutes ago, marie123 said:

 . . . .If this should happen again, what would the correct procedure be? Also would it be prudent to send out a memo to the board today, with a reminder on proper meeting decorum, and how it is to be handled?

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Agreeing with the answer by Mr. Huynh above, your question is rather difficult for us to answer with a short answer in this Q and A forum.  This is one of those situations where you really just need to read the rules on proper decorum and how to handle breaches of it.

The short answer, though, is that such personal attacks are out of order.  Any member can raise a point of order and the chair, on her own initiative, may call the member to order and rule that the comments are out of order.  But, again, you really should read what RONR has to say on the topic. 

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Guest Who's Coming to Dinner

The correct procedure is to chair the meeting with such an air of authority that the outbursts are unlikely to occur, and if they do, to break in assertively and announce that the comments are out of order. This is very hard to do when the members are inured to a casual atmosphere and expect you to be a pushover. Moving for recess is the right thing to do when tempers flare, but take care that you obtain the consent of the group; you do not have the right to impose a recess unilaterally.

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No memos. If this happens again strike the gavel one time, rise to your feet and say, "The gentleman's/gentlelady's comments are out of order and he/she does not have the floor." If they insist on continuing then you may start disciplinary proceedings. Believe me, they will get the message real fast and it will be more effective than a dozen memos.

Oh, and another thing. Do not cry. Do not show weakness. They are trying to test you to see how far they can get away with things. If you show determination and fairness they will respect you for it. Good luck. 

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