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Locked in a room for 3 days with an insane person

heathpack

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Shoot me now!

I am on a national committee that does very important work for my profession, tenure is 5 years, there are 5 of us. Once a year we all must fly to a specific locale for 3 days where we are all locked in a room together until our job is done.

The job we are doing is a very big deal, it directly affects the careers of about 40 other people in a major way (as in they maybe don't have a career depending on how well we complete our task).

Of course in an endeavor like this there will be a mix of personalities. My problem is that I feel that one of my fellow committee members is actually insane. No consensus can be reached because everything must ultimately be his way. He is rude to the point of other committee members storming out of the room. Most of the committee time consists of pointlessly beating ones head against the wall.

Last year I was committee chair, it was my opinion that this individual needed to be removed from the committee due to escalating insanity throughout the year (we have a second big push of effort in June). The president of our organization agreed by June and was willing to act, but by the time it got to that point, she was out-going president and I was out-going committee chair. She left the decision up to the new committee chair and prez., who of course decided not to act. Thus the insane person remains. He is very intelligent but absolutely unable to act in any sort of cooperative manner.

So I was left with a few unpleasant options:
1. Quit the committee myself, leaving a big void of knowledge specific to this committe. Although I can be replaced, it is not possible to replace me with someone who has served on committee chair in the past (by the rules of this committee)
2. Continue on until my tenure is up, but with a lack of confidence that we are doing a fair job with our task, and by doing so, seriously affecting the careers of numerous other people

So I picked option 2, I leave tomorrow and can only hope my head does not explode over the weekend! No idea why I posted this here, maybe just for moral support.

H
 

pjrose

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And TUG is a great place for moral support!

Can you import a few purring kittens LOL?
 

geekette

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Moral support you shall have!!

While not quite in such a setting, I have dealt with a few people that were simply not balanced.

I think that were I in your position, I also would choose option 2, so right there I'm with ya on that, support support support! That's doing the right thing. You would not be comfortable giving up.

Next, garner the support of the others in completing the task well. If you and others have discussed teh rationality of this Oddball, then you must band together in simply ignoring the stupid crap and contemplating the true contributions.

Oddball: if it's not this way, it's all screwed up because A can't pay for B, which leaves C underfunded to support D!

You or Someone: Good point, Oddball. Now, Jason, tell me more about the line items concerning R&D again.

Placate him/her and move on. Nod and smile.

That's great, O. Let's put that on the list. Bill, do you have that spreadsheet?

and maybe, just maybe, O quits being an imbecile. be sure to let them have the floor when they have a truly helpful thing to say. otherwise, you can interrupt. If this clown's behavior is as bad as I think it could be, rudeness can be met with rudeness.

Or maybe Oddball resorts to ever more childish behavior. In which case, treat O like a child.

You: would you like to take a break? It's been a while since you've stretched your legs.

and if you have to, actually say Time Out.

pisses people off, but if Oddball is the one to storm out, all the better for the rest of you getting on with business.

screw their feelings, you have a job to do. Sounds mean, but, tough crap. You can be stuck with a crazy person without having to put up with their craziness.

Tell them to go gather themselves when they get out of control. If you have the others agreeing, you all can exert some pressure on Oddball to behave. or sulk outside.

So, please figure out who else thinks this turd is a problem and band together. it may seem mean, but, as you say, many more people are relying on you. If Oddball can't behave in a civilized manner, Time Out is in the hallway.

GOOD LUCK. Please post back to update. I want to know how it goes.

And most importantly, do not let the crazy person make you crazy. I am not kidding. As I said, I have some experience in this area.
 

JudyH

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I know that you are a vet . Did you know that a camel is a horse that has been put together by a committee ?
Slip him some Risperdol !
 

heathpack

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I know that you are a vet . Did you know that a camel is a horse that has been put together by a committee ?
Slip him some Risperdol !

Ha! Thats a good one!

H
 

ronparise

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Ive always been suspicious of committee work. It seems to me that committees are created when the real decision maker cant make a decision, or wants someone to blame for an impending disaster. (The new congressional super committee comes to mind) If the committee's decision works out than the decision maker takes the credit (after all he appointed the committee) and if it doesn't he is has someone to blame

Do all your decisions require 5 yeses to be implemented?

If no and if the other 3 feel the same as you I would think you have a chance of getting something done. Or perhaps a majority report and a minority report will be your outcome.

Of course I think that a little insanity is a good thing.(thinking outside the box) Maybe doing things his way is the best way.. The new committee chair and prez must feel that way.

Or maybe they left him in so that you couldn't come up with any recommendations

Good Luck
 

vacationhopeful

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Insanity is not controllable. My grandparent's estate has been unsettled since 1976. It has been in state court since 1981. Of the 5 direct heirs to the estate, most of have each spent over $300,000 in legal fees due to one (1) insane heir who is 1 of 2 executors and heirs who have not died.

It had to be that person's way. When everyone else decided to move forward and just agrees with the fruitloop, that nut case changes what they want. And it starts all over again.

This is NOT involving a large sum of money. This insane heir is a hoarder and was not left the family house. It was left to the 2 unmarried sisters who had taken care of the parents and poured their money into the house every year since they started working.

I became a hero (legend) in the family by protecting my Dad in his later years when I called the police and had this person REMOVED from my Dad's property. This person threw a fit with my Dad's aide for 6 hours after 6PM and reappeared to start all over the next day. I stated exactly when and how long this relative could visit or would be totally banned from my Dad.

Good luck. Patience is a virtue. IMHO, you can't win with insanity and an insane person.
 

Passepartout

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H, you do good works. Keep it up, and tough it out if you can. Track the nutcase's inconsistencies, bullying, or intractability. Prepare to take the evidence to the Board, who, hopefully can remove the difficult person from the committee or overrule his poor decisions.

Good Luck!

Jim Ricks
 

Talent312

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There is one way to deal with an insane person: Act nuttier than they are. If you can get this guy to say, "You got some real problems, dude," you'll have an inside track. Its like what I said about a former colleague: "She can relate to the people of whatever planet she's from." Of course, the others will look at both of you with horrified expressions on their faces.

------------------------
From "Player Piano" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
"You think I'm insane?" said Finnerty.
"You're still in touch. I guess that's the test."
"Barely — barely."
"A psychiatrist could help. There's a good man in Albany."

Finnerty shook his head. "He'd pull me back into the center, and I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." He nodded, "Big, undreamed-of things — the people on the edge see them first."
 
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heathpack

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Ive always been suspicious of committee work. It seems to me that committees are created when the real decision maker cant make a decision, or wants someone to blame for an impending disaster. (The new congressional super committee comes to mind) If the committee's decision works out than the decision maker takes the credit (after all he appointed the committee) and if it doesn't he is has someone to blame

Do all your decisions require 5 yeses to be implemented?

If no and if the other 3 feel the same as you I would think you have a chance of getting something done. Or perhaps a majority report and a minority report will be your outcome.

Of course I think that a little insanity is a good thing.(thinking outside the box) Maybe doing things his way is the best way.. The new committee chair and prez must feel that way.

Or maybe they left him in so that you couldn't come up with any recommendations

Good Luck

This particular committee is a standing committee. It always exists and it is the mechanism by which the task at hand gets completed. Everything must be consensus, no minority decision possible.

When I say insane, that is maybe not the most helpful descriptor. The fellow in question is very intelligent but socially awkward. He is arrogant and yet simultaneously insecure and the insecurity in turn makes him (extraordinarily) rude. He is also the kind of person who will not let something go. He will simply state that he has superior understanding of a given subject ththe everyone else, the common wisdom is just wrong. If the rest of us truly understood the material, we'd realize that too. That sort of thing.

I know the current committee chair kept him on the committee because of his intelligence, the prez. would not interfere with the committee chairs decision but would be expected to support it either way. The guy is indeed intelligent but frequently in an esoteric, impractical, minutia sort of way, which I personally am not impressed by. Part of the problem is that you do not realize how pathological this guy is until you are the go-to person. So I and the outgoing prez were on the receiving end of many truly bizarre emails and phone calls. "Why are you leaving me out of the decision making process, you are doing it wrong, and here's how you should do it!!!". Sorry, lunatic, here's the email string of 27 communications we had on this subject clearly documenting your involvement in the process. Or even better: here's the string on 7 desperate emails I sent you asking for the task you were supposed to complete. Why are there no emails from you?! Oh, yeah, because you never responded and I had to do your job for you and now you are complaining about the end result?! Seriously, it was your task to complete AND YOU DID NOT DO IT!

So I say this guy is insane because I think he truly believes most of this nonsense he spews. He THINKS no one involved him in the process and it seems to have no effect whatsoever when you send him evidence to the contrary. If you are the prez or the committee chair, you realize all of this is happening. If you are just on the committee, you don't really know.

The other thing that happens is that everyone just wants to get the job done and go home. No one wants to get into an endless and pointless argument
with Mr. Special. Since we much reach consensus, there is a limit to howmlong the reasonable people will sit in a room with 1 person refusing to let go of one item out of 200 until he gets his way. After 175 items are covered, you realize that eventually Mr. Special gets his way on everything because no everybody else realizes we have ground to cover and we need to move past this one item. If we don't get the job done during our meeting, we all must go home and work on it on our own. Which is a waste of time but preferable to arguing all weekend. The emails that happen later are easier to take somehow.

More than any of you wanted to know, I'm sure. It will amuse me to post about the specifics as the weekend evolves. And oh joy! I get to ride from the airport to the hotel in a shuttle with Mr. Special! One hour of togetherness!

H
 

suesam

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Sounds like a narcissist to me. I feel your pain. I had a boss who was a narcissist for about 1.5 years. It was torture. She was eventually fired....thank God. You can't fix crazy....you have to learn to deal with it. Good luck!

Sue
 

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Remove the personality issue by dealing with what is the real problem - change the voting structure of the committee to require either 60% or 80% agreement.

THAT is where you need to direct your energy and NOT on the individual because they will leave, they have to after 5 years but another whackjob can show up after they are gone - so fix the real issue.

And best of luck!

This particular committee is a standing committee. It always exists and it is the mechanism by which the task at hand gets completed. Everything must be consensus, no minority decision possible.
 

Sandi Bo

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Good luck!

I was on a project team with a cast of thousands. We were in multiple locations with a 24X7 video conference link set up between the 2 major locations.

On the table in both locations was a wind-up toy pig. If someone was talking too long and monopolizing the time, anyone in the room could wind up the pig and it would start oinking. (Sometimes the pig wasted more time than the person monopolizing the conversation and that in itself was annoying).

Are ground rules set at the beginning of the meeting? Do you have a facilitator? Setting ground rules at the beginning of the meeting may be helpful.

But as Linda said, dealing with insanity is not controllable.

Best of luck to you. You will be ready for a timeshare vacation after your 3 day meeting.
 

rickandcindy23

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My sympathies.

This reminds me of being on a timeshare HOA BOD. I have been on two and quit one because the verbal abuse was too much from our newest member. The guy was nice to everyone else, but to me, with just us in the room, he was extremely rude. Before a meeting started, during a restroom break, when others left for a few minutes, or on the phone. It was terrible. I tried to talk to him but could not. He would raise his voice and tell me I was wrong, no matter what. I believe he thinks I was on the board with the big special assessments, when I wasn't.
 

dwojo

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I would walk away very publicly. If this person cannot act in a rational and civilized manner and accomplishing anything positive was not likely why bother. All parties concerned would know why. I used that tactic on a group I was involved with where one person hijacked it for their own agenda. Once this persons agenda and tactics were exposed he was forced to resign. The result of all this were changes to how appointments were made and the size of the group as well as the amount of votes needed to change a policy. The change was not immediate but worth the drama in the end.
 

heathpack

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My sympathies.

This reminds me of being on a timeshare HOA BOD. I have been on two and quit one because the verbal abuse was too much from our newest member. The guy was nice to everyone else, but to me, with just us in the room, he was extremely rude. Before a meeting started, during a restroom break, when others left for a few minutes, or on the phone. It was terrible. I tried to talk to him but could not. He would raise his voice and tell me I was wrong, no matter what. I believe he thinks I was on the board with the big special assessments, when I wasn't.

You have actually hit the nail on the head, Cindy, this guy does have a bit of a particular problem with me and he is more rude and uncooperative with me than anyone else on the committee.

The back story is former prez and I used to work together as professors at University X. During that time, former prez started a research project with our new resident. Resident had also interviewed with Mr. Special at University Y, she was a top candidate and accepted our position over Mr. Special's, that was galling to him. Mr. Special accused resident and former prez of stealing his idea for the research project, he believes he discussed the idea for the project during the interview. Resident does not remember that, and in any case former prez already had the idea for the project and the skeleton of it put together for the new resident- ie, whoever the new resident would have been, this would have been his/her project. It was just the self-evident next project to do on this particular subject, I'm sure former prez and Mr. Special were not the only ones thinking along those lines. No amount of former prez explaining this would dissuade Mr. Special from believing the resident stole his idea, however. Mr. Special thinks former prez and I are BFF, really we just have a friendly professional relationship. But because he thinks we are BFF, he was very paranoid all last year that we were conspiring against him.

Additionally, I left my faculty position to pursue other opportunities in the private realm. Mr. Special feels that the only "true" place our profession should take place is in academia, everything else is a threat to the world as he feels it should be.

So because I am not in academia and because of my relationship with former prez, Mr. Special has a particular problem with me. He is not as bad with everyone else, current committee chair is an academician, and former prez is gone- maybe it will be better this year. Part of the problem now is that I am so fed up with the guy that there is a real chance I will start to become unreasonable.

A weekend of biting my words lies ahead.

H
 
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sstug

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May I suggest you bribe him with a peace offering of some yummy homemade mini pies??? Just make sure he's not allergic to anything you put in them - he may accuse you of attempted murder!!
 

ace2000

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On the table in both locations was a wind-up toy pig. If someone was talking too long and monopolizing the time, anyone in the room could wind up the pig and it would start oinking. (Sometimes the pig wasted more time than the person monopolizing the conversation and that in itself was annoying).

The toy pig idea sounds like a good one to me!
 

geekette

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"several jobs ago" we had a little wooden statue "flipping the bird." If someone was being an a$$hole, they got the trophy. Clear sign to COOL IT, A$$!

Then they had to hope that someone was more of an ()&^(%)_#%) than they'd been to offload it. No one wants to be A$$ of the Day, apparently...

but the pig is GREAT! oinking all over blowhard blather!
 

spirits

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Insight from my job. Long post

Hi. I work in a wonderful organization that is trying to speak to this issue. As you can imagine it is very complicated and difficult. But at least there is literature and research available. I am going to relate some pertinent information that I just recieved today.
"In order to correct and prevent bullying in the workplace, we need to understand unresolved conflict and its potential to lead to complicating factors such as bullying and mobbing."
"In her 2007 book, The Complete Guide to Understanding, Controlling, and Stopping Bullies and Bullying at Work" Margaret Kohut states that victims who are the target of demeaning and destructive acts can have their careers destroyed. The consequences can be devastating, up to and including attempts of suicide. According to Kohut, workplace bullying leads to a deterioration in a person's pysical and psychological being and leads to depression,k gastric problems, headaches, insomnia, substance abuse, and a host of medical ailments. Bullying damages selfesteem and confidence and she add bullying is a draining force that consumes the total person on a holistic level."

All this you are very well aware of but at least this could be something that you could use to change your work environment.
"Another book mentioned is Bullies, Tyrants and Impossible People, Shapiro and Jankoeski (2005) discuss their system for dealing with bullies. They believe that returning meanness with meanness accomplishes very little and that the likelihood of persuading a bully that he or she is maistaken about the target's worth is very unlikely. They outline a plan that they say has a greater chance of success. The book may be a worthwhile read for people who are experiencing bullying issues in the workplace. Other resources can be found at www.workplacebulllying.org."
I hope this can help. There is other information and books cited so if you need more let me know.
 

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H,

I think you MUST be working with my brother-in-law! :D

My sympathies to you for having to deal with this kind of person. I dealt with them frequently in my career. Sooooo glad to be done with working.

You might have the right thought - to just finish up your tenure and call it good.

J
 

heathpack

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I have arrived at my committee meeting locale. Actually had a fine ride with Mr. Special and committee chair from the airport. During which I learned that the incoming junior committee member almost got kicked off the committee already. That's pretty impressive since so far all we've had to do was: 1. Attend a webinar and 2. Book some plane tickets to get to the meeting. Turns out Junior did not attend the webinar nor did he book his plane tickets until several days ago (nor would he reply to any emails or phone calls from committee chair or administrative office). Eventually it was learned that he was "too busy." He had to have his own private chat with the prez.

So we shall see this weekend who is more special, Mr. Special or Junior.

H
 

glypnirsgirl

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So we shall see this weekend who is more special, Mr. Special or Junior.

H

Maybe they will expend all of their energy one-upping each other and let the rest of you get some work done! Good luck!
 
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