North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Question about dealing with disruptive individuals in an Objectivist group

Question about dealing with disruptive individuals in an Objectivist group

user 12479276
Memphis, TN
Post #: 1
Hey, this is Jerry from Memphis Objectivists. We have been running a very small Objectivist group here for a couple of years, (nowhere near as large as your group, around 8-10 regular attendees). We have a problem from time to time with people who come to discussions and continually change the subject and/or sidetrack the discussion and we were wondering if you guys have some kind of protocol for dealing with such individuals? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Old T.
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,144
Hello Jerry,

The size of a group is a factor because the smaller a group the more impact—positive or negative—one person can have. A small group makes it less likely one can find another who shares more particular interests. If a group is so small such that the members do not find others they enjoy meeting, the only solution would be to build the size group.

The purpose of a particular meeting is another factor regarding whether changing the subject of “the discussion” is appropriate behavior. A meeting can be purely social, allowing the participants to mingle and discuss anything as may be mutually agreeable to two or more people for as long or short a time as they may mutually want to discuss any particular topic. Or the subject can be formalized, in which case the protocol would be to select an informal moderator. (For a large group discussion, the protocol should also be formally structured, using both a moderator and formal meeting rules, such as Robert’s Rules of Order.)

Of course, the moderator must actually exercise good judgment regarding a meeting’s purpose, participation standards, and civil conduct, otherwise chaos and unhappiness ensues. A disruptive person who is not moderated can destroy a group discussion (and interest in the group as a whole). But so can a moderator who has no standards or exercises poor judgment, that is, if he is perceived as unfair by some of the members.

In NTOS, we have put a great deal of effort into our management principles, including regarding our purpose, participation standards, and civility, which principles have served us well. Based on this and in our experience with hundreds of members and visitors to our various event offerings over the last eight years, only about one out of a hundred people have been found to be disruptive and had to be weeded out. On the other hand, perhaps if I had weeded myself out, the group would be larger!

I hope you find these comments helpful. If you have many questions, I would be glad to discuss this with you in more detail on the phone.

Old Toad
user 12479276
Memphis, TN
Post #: 2
Thanks so much for your feedback on this, I really appreciate it. It is very helpful to hear from someone with more experience in these matters. It looks like you guys have a great group down there in Dallas and the next time I'm in town I would love to come to one of your events.

Regards, Jerry
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