How to Manage a Large Group of Angry People

I run a small company of about 15 employees.  We build and own apartment buildings.  I absolutely love manager tools and listen to them every day.

We watch our customer reviews to make sure we are doing a good job at providing places for people to live.  Normally we may get 3 or 4 reviews a year.  Some are great, some are bad.  It's a mix.  But recently we have received 30 or so reviews in the past couple of weeks.  Some have a moderate view of us but the most are negative and some are hateful.  Some of the comments are simply not even true.

I think (I don't know for sure) that this was all of this was stirred up by one malicious tenant.  Overall, it's gotten to be pretty nasty.

I have sent a letter to all of our tenants inviting them to a "town hall" meeting next week to talk through the issues and to let them blow off steam on us.

What would you recommend that I do?


Prewire the meeting:

If possible, visit the tenants that have the most serious complaints (second best: call them), collect their input so you can address it in the meeting, and use the opportunity to present your view of the situation to them one-on-one ahead of the meeting.

In the meeting, be sure to actually include and address the input you have gathered - people have to know that they have been heard in the prewire.

Falk Bruegmann

re: group of angry people

I second Falk's suggestion to visit everyone with a complaint. Before the town hall meeting. Make sure anyone who can't come to the meeting has another venue to voice their issues to you.

I understand your intention in trying to address the situation and any real issues immediately. Personally I would not have set up a town hall meeting so quickly. Even if it really is just one person stirring things up, they will out number you. It can be VERY difficult not to sound defensive when taking complaints from a group. You've already invited them so I recommend:

- When you meet with the group listen carefully to everything they say. Thank them for letting you know about what ever their issues are because you sincerely want to do a good job, and their sharing this info with you helps you improve.

- Do review the DiSC podcasts try to use some of that knowledge about communication and behavior when you are speaking with the tenants individually or as a group. I think there is a podcast about how to have a conversation that might be helpful as well. 

- Ask for specific examples if someone says something like "X happens all the time" or "6 other people told me that had the same problem with Y that I did". Be careful not to sounds defensive when you ask. Make sure they know you want more details so that you can fix the problem.

- Do not try to dispute anything anyone says and do not correct anyone. Personally I would avoid proposing any possible solutions during the meeting unless it is something you absolutely know you can change. But this is a slippery slope and can lead to the solution being open to debate, especially when you are dealing with a group with an instigator.

- Be aware that the instigator's agenda is to stay angry and have others join him/her--not to solve problems. Don't try to change him/her--you will lose. The instigator will fight any proposed solution. It's hard for them to fight with you if you just thank them to letting you know about the problems they've experienced.

- DO NOT to interrupt anyone. Let them say whatever they need to say, even if they are wrong. DO let them speak, and stop anyone else who tries to interrupt them. Let them talk until they've run out of things to say. Then say "Thank you, I really appreciate your sharing that with me. I will look into your concerns and see what we can do to address them." (and mean it).

- Have a staff member take notes (make sure it is someone who is good at taking notes). You may want to take some notes yourself, but don't let that distract you from listening.  Let the tenants know you are taking notes so that you can follow up on the issues they've raised. Be sure to give everyone name tags (including yourself and any staff with you) so you know who said what.

- Send thank you notes to each person who attended within a day. Take a deep breath, go for a walk. Then look over the complaints, figure out what is real and want is not. Starting thinking about how to address each one.

- Mark H says over communicate in a podcast (or many podcasts) and he's right. Within a week, send a follow up letter letting each individual know what will be done to address their specific issue. For global issues that effect multiple people send a personalized mass letter (mailmerge is great for this) to let them know what changes will be made. Within two weeks, send a letter summarizing all of the steps that have been completed to resolve the issues. Send follow up letters as needed for things that require more time.

Good luck!

the instigator's agenda is to stay angry

 Applejack says; "Be aware that the instigator's agenda is to stay angry and have others join him/her--not to solve problems. "

Wow - I bet that is right, and very useful to remember! 

Best of luck 


Five Stars!

Applejack gives great advice. I recommend you follow it. Let me emphasize the part about listening. As someone said, Listen with the intent to understand; not to argue." This is not a debate.

good advice here i am also

good advice here i am also follow this address if i will face  this situation .