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I may have offended - not sure what to do

(55 Posts)
Jillybird Thu 24-Sep-20 10:32:44

I run a retirees' group which usually meets six+ times a year - three are committee meetings to plan events. We have not met since February and all activities were cancelled. Yesterday we held a SD committee meeting in one member's garden. Of course, there was a lot of chatting and catching up. We settled to the meeting. About half-way through, two members began a discussion of how much they were missing their grandchildren and when they'd last seen them and how many family parties they had managed to have in their large gardens. I noticed the expressions on the other participants, none of the three have any grandchildren and two have no children and just the tiniest number of relatives. I could see their eyes glazing over and a very slight irritation as the two continued their lovely chat. Eventually I said, "Can we just get back to the agenda and answer this question". The chatterers were very put-out.

I feel I did the right thing, I don't know how long the rest of us would have been left hanging, waiting. In fact they were being rude and inconsiderate, however I have known both of them more than thirty years and consider them friends. I don't want to lose them but I'm wondering if I am getting short-tempered after all this time in lock-down. I've always prided myself in being able to charm people into doing what was necessary rather than being blunt. My charm seems to have deserted me and irritation is showing!

How can I repair these friendships? I can't invite them anywhere, mostly due to CV19 but also because I live 90 minutes away.

(P.S. in case you are wondering if I'm imagining it, one of the two was very sharp with me as I left and the other has not responded to a friendly text.)

Callistemon Thu 24-Sep-20 10:44:11

That is your job, as Chairperson, to keep the meeting on track. You did the right thing so don't worry about it.

It's unfortunate that they went off in a huff but I would leave it for the time being.
If anything is said then you could explain that you'd love to hear all their family news if meeting socially, or even after the meeting was over, but that there was a lot to discuss and you needed to get through everything on the agenda.

If they still remain huffy, then that's unfortunate but you have nothing to reproach yourself for.

M0nica Thu 24-Sep-20 10:49:40

You were the chair of the meeting, you did what a chair is meant to do. When chairing a meeting I have often drawn the meeting together when two people were having a private conversation - and in my time been quite rightly reprimanded, when I and somebody else were having a private conversation.

If they want to go off in a huff that is their problem. leave them to it and next time you see them just act as if nothing had happened. Everyone else in the meeting was clearly on your side. I certainly wouldn't waste any time worrying about it.

Grandmafrench Thu 24-Sep-20 10:58:49

Yes, you were right. But maybe a bit sharp, although in your post you’ve said as much. You’d probably admit that next time the subject might be raised.

To be fair, the meeting had a specific purpose. It was why everyone was there. Since it had been a good while since you had got together, it was probably too tempting for some not to want to just chat.

I’d let it go now and, as Callistemon has said, you were trying to do your job. It was a Committee meeting. If 3 people you consider friends cannot see that, and that they were testing the patience of the others, they’re obviously not friends.

Galaxy Thu 24-Sep-20 11:38:52

I was told off slightly by a chair in a meeting a while back for going off track, he was right, I actually liked him even more for being able to do that. Also we sometimes spend a lot of time worrying about something we have said when the person we have spoken to has forgotten all about it.

Granarchist Thu 24-Sep-20 11:48:07

You did the right thing. When I used to chair meetings we kept things on track by saving the drink and refreshments (tea or wine depending on the meeting!) until after the meeting was closed. Then everyone can chat away as much as they want to! It also means people can get away if they need to instead of getting cross with the meeting going off at a tangent and wasting their time. My daughter who was not married at the time nearly gave up on school reunions because all people could talk about was husbands and babies. She felt so excluded.

Granarchist Thu 24-Sep-20 11:48:07

You did the right thing. When I used to chair meetings we kept things on track by saving the drink and refreshments (tea or wine depending on the meeting!) until after the meeting was closed. Then everyone can chat away as much as they want to! It also means people can get away if they need to instead of getting cross with the meeting going off at a tangent and wasting their time. My daughter who was not married at the time nearly gave up on school reunions because all people could talk about was husbands and babies. She felt so excluded.

Calendargirl Thu 24-Sep-20 11:49:30

I agree with what everyone else has said. It’s so easy for committee meetings to branch off into private chats. I’m sure it was extra difficult as it’s been a long time since you all met up, but you did right as chair person.

I suspect the chatterers felt ‘told off’, but TBH they deserved to be. Others don’t want to hear rabbiting on about GC’s etc.

I can imagine you feel awkward, but as someone else said, just act normally when you see them again. If they persist in being ‘off’, well, too bad.

Lucca Thu 24-Sep-20 11:55:01

You were so right. I’m in a group (not formal with a chair though) where some are grandparents, some are not, some have grandchildren very far away (not just me) at least one knows they will never have grandchildren. One member does go on a bit about having a busy busy time with houseful of grandchildren etc plus shows photos round. I feel it is tactless.

Teetime Thu 24-Sep-20 12:01:15

I have chaired many meetings and people often go off track. I like the Vicar of Dibley model where the chair of the Parish Council says 'moving on' - seems to go down OK.
Its a job managing a meeting of or anything in fact with volunteers but you need to keep order for everyone's sake. I usually start the meeting by saying ' we have a lot to get through' and a length of time for the meeting to take e.g. we need to be finished by 12 and suggesting a coffee and catch up a when the business is done then people have a choice whether to hear the chat or take their leave.

Oopsadaisy4 Thu 24-Sep-20 12:46:13

I think you were right, you asked them to get back to the Agenda, you could have just told them to shut up, but you didn’t, you were professional.

They ought to be apologising to you and the other committee members.

Nonogran Thu 24-Sep-20 12:59:42

You did the right thing as everyone has so far confirmed on here. Don't give it a second thought. Time will ease your unease and next time you see them don't mention it & carry on as normal. If they are still huffy, just let it wash over you. Don't be drawn into conversation about it if they bring it up. You have nothing to apologise for & "least said soonest mended." Well done you for being a disciplined chairperson, giving up your time & travelling so far to attend.

Madgran77 Thu 24-Sep-20 14:21:43

If there was no reply to a friendly text I would leave it for a few days and then maybe ring each up and say "After our last meeting I got the impression I offended/upset you when I asked if we could stick to the agenda. Am I right?" If the reply is "No!" say "That's good then" and chat generally. If the answer is "Yes" listen whilst they explain their feelings and then say "I am sorry if I was sharp, that wasn't intentional. I suppose my concern was to make sure we got through everything etc etc because …" Listen again to their response and keep acknowledging their perspective whilst also keep explaining your own perspective as chair. Emphasise yours (and their) wish to continue the group etc for everyone's sake etc. Maybe also ask about the subject they were talking about at the meeting ...asking about grandchildren, saying how much they must miss them etc. |Good luck flowers

Froglady Thu 24-Sep-20 14:28:42

They were in the wrong. There was time before the meeting started to chat and that was were it should have been, not in the middle of the meeting, so you were right. In the past I've stopped going to various reading groups because of people who would hijack the meeting and start talking about the NHS or the buses, etc, etc and I got fed up with it. I'm sorry that the two people didn't like it - I wonder if they felt embarrassed as they realised they were in the wrong?
Good Luck with it - you did the right thing.

Jillybird Thu 24-Sep-20 14:59:30

I love you lot!

I do feel better having read your comments. Not much, but a bit!

I do still feel I could and should have handled it better, a bit more grace and understanding, maybe. However, after reading all your thoughts, I shall leave it a few days and see how I feel then. In truth I had been looking forward to seeing them... and now I feel I mucked it up!

You are all very kind and I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. Thank you very much!

annep1 Thu 24-Sep-20 15:16:51

I think Madgran has made a good suggestion, which you could act on if they stay huffy. You didn't do anything terrible. You needed to get the meeting back on track.

avitorl Thu 24-Sep-20 15:34:34

I think you did the correct thing for 2 reasons,1, you managed to stick to the Agenda 2,The other people in the Group without Grandchildren/Family don't need to be told how much they are missing out on especially at this time of Covid which has made loneliness so much worse.
I don't think you need to apologise for carrying out the Role you were meant to do.

honeyrose Thu 24-Sep-20 15:52:33

I totally agree with Madgran77’s response. Maybe give each of them a ring in a day or two to try and smooth things over, but also hear their angle on it and don’t forget to reiterate your take on things as well. Surely, if they’re good friends, they’ll understand your perspective. You did the right thing, Jillybird, in bringing the meeting back to the topic(s) being discussed. Maybe you were slightly sharper than you intended (that happens sometimes), but the meeting needed to continue and these two friends were hijacking things a bit. They probably hadn’t seen each other for a while, but there’s a time and place (after the meeting for example). It’s understandable that they wanted to chat, but they should have waited. If these friends are still huffy, then they may be feeling a bit awkward and guilty - keeping their heads down, so to speak. I am a worrier and a bit of a people-pleaser (I don’t really like having to admit that) so that’s the advice I would give - to ring them. Can also understand others views too!

AGAA4 Thu 24-Sep-20 16:47:29

Jillybird the others at the meeting will have been very grateful to you for stopping the social chatting. I have been in meetings where they have gone completely off track because people were discussing other things, which is wasting the time of those who want to get on with the agenda.
The chatterers were in the wrong not you and to go off in a huff is childish imo.

toscalily Thu 24-Sep-20 18:08:46

I don't think you were out of order at all, as the Chairperson it is up to you to guide the meeting and you did say there had been a lot of chatting and catching up at the start and of course they could have chatted again when it was finished. Nothing worse than a meeting where people keep going off at a tangent instead of getting down to the nitty gritty, my eyes definitely glaze over when that happens.

Ladyleftfieldlover Fri 25-Sep-20 09:43:46

I have chaired quite a few meetings and if the chat veered off too much I just simply said something like, 'don't you think we should get back to the agenda now?'

M0nica Fri 25-Sep-20 09:47:38

Just because you offended someone doesn't mean that you said or did anything wrong. The fault can, and often does, lie with those who caused the offence, because they know they were in the wrong and do not want to admit it.

M0nica Fri 25-Sep-20 09:49:05

I should have added, they act the way they do, because they want to transfer the blame to you, which they seem to have done very successfully.

Caragran Fri 25-Sep-20 09:50:48

Yes you did exactly the right thing. A meeting is to discuss agenda items. Chit chat comes later.

jaylucy Fri 25-Sep-20 09:52:23

You did the right thing by bringing the meeting back to order.
The other members doing the chatting were in the wrong - they could very well have had their chat at the end of the meeting.
By pointing out to them that they were in the wrong, it made them feel silly in front of friends and very childishly, they are in a huff.
Leave it for the moment, it will sort itself out - they should really apologise for holding up the meeting!