This semi-occasional column is written by Nicole Ouellette, a former advice columnist. Here are our local, Maine-related situations this week:

Dear Gift MDI,
I’m on a non-profit board with a total know it all… who doesn’t know anything. He talks at length at meetings but it’s clear he didn’t read the materials sent out before the meeting and doesn’t even seem to understand basics about the organization. I’d like him gone but he’s clearly there for a reason. How do I get through meetings with a blowhard?
Feeling Like Committing A Crime In Committee

As the saying goes, if you don’t know this person, you are the person. We’ve all been stuck in meetings with someone like this, and it’s horrible.
First thing is to talk to the person who actually runs the meeting. If they are staff and they don’t want to piss off this blowhard board member who might be a major donor, that might be the issue. Or if there isn’t someone running the meeting, it is clearly going to go off the rails.
Offer to keep time at the meeting so the staff member can take notes or do other important tasks. Adding time limits to topics and assigning different people to present is one way to reign things in. You could also institute policies that limit how much anyone speaks, like going around the circle and making sure you hear from everyone for 30 seconds about the given agenda item.
The board chair might also want to have a conversation with this individual directly about the lack of preparedness. “Hey Carl, we notice when you come to meetings, you haven’t had time to look over the materials. Would you like us to get them to you sooner or in a different format?” It will show Carl that he’s not fooling anyone and give him a chance to step up.
I bet a combination of these things does the trick. I also like to have a firm end time for a meeting when I host them. It shows the participants I value their time and allows us to stay on task. Good luck!



Dear Gift MDI,
My friends own ‘competing’ restaurants. I say competing but really they are two different kinds of places in the same town. I try to give business to both and support them by liking stuff on their business Facebook pages and leaving reviews. One of my friends is mad I go to the other friend’s restaurant sometimes. How can I get her to understand I try to be even handed in my buying local stance?
Irritatedly Eating At Home

Here on MDI we are the land of the small business. It sounds like your jealous friend is being a bit unreasonable. Have you let them know your policy about being even handed?  I was so even handed that I knew three insurance agents and I divided my business among them, but none of them realized that until I told them.
Sometimes people are too busy looking around them to notice what’s in front of them so tell them your policy of fairly patronizing everyone’s restaurants.
Also find out what about this is irritating your friend. Is it that you posted a picture of crab cakes and they believe their crab cakes are the best in town? Is it that they aren’t doing well this season and need every penny? Ask them why they are feeling slighted and you may be surprised, and actually be able to correct it… or help them realize something.
On the other hand, if someone is going to be that petty even after you try to reasonably engage, let them do it. Some people seem to think their life is constantly unfair and that’s nothing you can make better, no matter how many times you get takeout from their place.

Dear Gift MDI,
My neighbor lets her dog run loose (we live in the country) and the dog is constantly in my yard. I’ve almost hit her a couple of times with my car and otherwise would like to not be responsible for this animal. How do I talk to my neighbor about this?
Neighborhood Has Gone To The Dog

Listen, most of us dog owners think our dog is pretty smart (or at least smart enough to get away from cars). But if my dog is in someone’s trash or being a jerk (and almost getting herself killed), I’d hope someone would tell me.
Frame the conversation as a safety issue and no one can argue with that, not even the free-rangiest dog parent. If they know you head to work at 8 AM or take your trash to the curb Tuesday nights, that may even help further improve things. If they don’t listen, call animal control. They are there to help, but use them as a last resort.


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