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The Art of Community, Second Edition by Jono Bacon

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Chapter 11. Handling Conflict and Relationships

“The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

Back in 2007, I was packing my suitcase to head to a conference in Europe. Tired of trying to cram everything into a tiny bag, I decided to check my email, where I had received a somewhat concerned note from a member of a user group.

The group (which shall remain unnamed) had been experiencing some rather ugly conflict between two members fighting for leadership. Both individuals felt they were the better choice for leadership but were rather ironically demonstrating their clear lack of leadership experience by having a public spat in the interests of securing power. The poor soul who sent me the concerned email informed me that the situation was making the user group not a very fun place to be. I responded, and in the interest of not missing my plane I returned to resolving my own conflict between my underpants and travel bag.

A little while later, another email arrived about the same group, sharing similar concerns and calling out one of the leaders for being unprofessional, bullish, and impolite to the members of the group. While I was reading the email, another arrived. This one (replete with a flurry of uppercase, highlighted, and boldface statements) defended the actions of the leader I had originally read about. In contrast, this writer accused the other leader of corruption and misconduct ...

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