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What do you do when somebody dominates an Alanon Meeting...

Old 04-08-2011, 10:58 PM
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What do you do when somebody dominates an Alanon Meeting...

...I go to a couple of meetings where there's a dude who either doesn't know or doesn't care how much time he takes up when he's sharing. But if sharing were water, several people in the group would be dehydrated while he'd be pissing every five minutes.

Today I cracked. It was a short meeting anyway because of a business meeting, and he shared for 15 of the remaining 40 minutes. For the first time ever, which means since 2003, I interrupted somebody who was sharing. I told him to finish up because there were other people who wanted to share.

He lashed out at me, called me controlling and said he'd share until he was ******* done. I Costanza'd him and said "we live in a society." He continued lashing out until some other dudes shut him down and we finished the meeting (most people did not get an opportunity to share). After, I didn't say anything to him and he didn't say anything to me.

I know I can be controlling, but I don't believe in this situation I did wrong. How have some of you handled this type of situation, and do you think I was out of line asking him to finish so others could share?

Cyranoak
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:07 PM
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This has happened on numerous occasions
in AA around here.

What they did
was attended the business meeting
and propose that it be stated in the beginning readings
that shares should be kept to a minimum
and only related to the topic.

That way,
the chair can stop the person
and gently remind them
that there's a limit to their share
or that what they're sharing
isn't on topic, etc.

If it's not in the preamble of the meeting
(assuming they're run rather like AA meetings)
then it's harder
if you get a chair who just lets them drone on
cuz they're under some illusion
that everything matters.

Secondly -
this is EXACTLY the kind of thing
I take to my sponsor.
"What am I not seeing here?"
"Am I nuts or is this person the antichrist?"
Is usually how it starts.

Finally -
I am the world's worst
about approaching people
after the meeting.
And speaking to them in private.

People around here call them "Barb's quiet talks"
and they say
they'd rather have me cuss them out
than endure one of my 'quiet talks'.

lol

It ain't all love and light over here, either, hon!
We ALL have a right to be fed up.

Hope something in this drivel helped.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:27 PM
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I do agree with Barb, bring it up at the next business meet.

And....perhaps seek out a different meeting.
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Old 04-09-2011, 01:10 AM
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Well, see, I strive to be you when I grow up, Cyrano.

Because I do that thing I do so well -- suffer in silence and feel secretly victimized when someone else hijacks the whole damn meeting and shares for waaaay too long. Except on the days when I'm really in balance and can think, "wow -- she REALLY needed to be here today, didn't she?"

But this is the reason I have a hard time finding a "home" meeting -- because this one woman keeps going to the same meetings and monopolizing the sharing. And it isn't that I always have to share my stuff -- it's that... it ends up seeming like whatever Al-Anon group she's in functions as her personal counseling session. And I think we have the right to set boundaries for that -- but I'm too much of a chicken to do that.
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Old 04-09-2011, 01:26 AM
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I understand the idea of finding a different meeting, but I'm too damn stubborn to let this guy steal the meeting from me. I've been listening to him for awhile and he's not a bad guy, but he is inconsiderate. I think he might have Aspergers. Or, he's an ass-burger.

All kidding aside the meeting breaks up into three meetings, so I'm going to take your advice and avoid him for awhile in the submeetings.

C-
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Old 04-09-2011, 02:10 AM
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This drives me BANANAS!!!!!

We have a guy in our meeting who does the exact same thing. I skipped my home group pretty regularly over the last few months and went to alternative meetings because I couldn't detach about it. I'd sit watching the clock, get steamed up and then be distracted.

Last week I walked in the door and was thrilled that he was chairing. Small group, we all got to share and we were on track to get around everyone and finish on time. He chaired ... and then shared. We ran exactly 15 over so he could get his share in.

One of the group old timers asked me after why I had been spotty lately - I said I'm not spotty with meetings, just this one and it's because there's no timekeeping. It's that simple. I din't always want to share - but I don't want to spend a full quarter of the meeting listening to the same share, every week. And there is always violence in there - he doesn't say "I was frustrated about xyz" he says "I wanted to snap this guy's head off" or "I wanted to punch this woman". And I freeze every single time. It triggers me into next week.

The good news is that I'm finding meetings around town I wouldn't have otherwise but there were six people at last week's meeting down from 12-20. People have been bailing like crazy.

Cyranoak, I think that chiming in while he was still sharing was maybe a tiny wee bit too much (although God knows I've wanted to, believe me and part of me is giving you a virtual high five).

I do think it's a shame that people can essentially kill a meeting - which is what has happened to mine. I will not ever grow to love this guy in a special way - he's been around for a year of the two and a half I've been in my home group and it has nosedived since he arrived. Issues raised at our business meetings typically go nowhere and I'm shopping for a new homegroup. Maybe your group is better at taking care of group business? I hope so.

Looking forward to hearing how it goes,

SL.
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Old 04-09-2011, 04:52 AM
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Cyranoak,

While it may not have been the best approach, I am thinking that you probably spoke for the WHOLE group, and that probably lowered the collective blood pressure in the room.
They were all probably giving you mental high-fives. And doing that silent "giggle" , that feels so good when we see some [email protected]@ get a reality check!

kudos , for being the mouth piece for probably everyone, and taking one one for the team.


chicory

(there was a guy in a little meeting i used to go to, and he would tell the same victims story each week, for 20 minutes- same story. when i went back, the meeting had dissolved- wondering if that had a lot to do with it...
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:01 AM
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I am counter to this. I firmly believe it is the chairs responsibility to handle these situations. A polite conversation post meeting would be appropriate if handled with positives not threats. Confronting a person in a group setting like this can be very demeaning and that is not something anyone wants when the attend Al-Anon or AA. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:23 AM
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C, I don't blame you at all for what you did. I've come across this many times before. Some people just don't know when to shut up and listen (and it's often men because many men are socialized to dominate air time as countless research studies show).

I would say that the chair should take him aside and explain that shares should be kept short so that other people can have their space too and that if he does it again, then the chair will step in and move the meeting along. And a group conscience should be taken. Does he have a sponsor? I used to attend a meeting where one clearly troubled woman would share for ages, all problems and no solution. The whole group felt for her but her problems were totally beyond the scope of al-anon. Thankfully one of the old-timers offered to be her sponsor and guided her towards professional help and the meeting issue resolved itself.
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:05 AM
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God I want to argue with you about this...

...but I can't.

After eight years in Alanon I've encountered this dynamic several times and it's been a dude every time.

C'mon dudes! Let's get our **** together on this. Look at the friggen clock! Everybody's shoe pinches and we live in a ******* society!

Cyranoak

Originally Posted by Bolina View Post
C, I don't blame you at all for what you did. I've come across this many times before. Some people just don't know when to shut up and listen (and it's often men because many men are socialized to dominate air time as countless research studies show).

I would say that the chair should take him aside and explain that shares should be kept short so that other people can have their space too and that if he does it again, then the chair will step in and move the meeting along. And a group conscience should be taken. Does he have a sponsor? I used to attend a meeting where one clearly troubled woman would share for ages, all problems and no solution. The whole group felt for her but her problems were totally beyond the scope of al-anon. Thankfully one of the old-timers offered to be her sponsor and guided her towards professional help and the meeting issue resolved itself.
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:09 AM
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OMG..I just had a big thread about this on the the other f/f board...whiny manipualtive SICK newcomer dominating and calling the shots..we've changed the book we're reading because she"needs to work the steps and no one will sponsor her" (wonder why?).No one has helped her enough, these meetings should be about the newcomers..we're happy and she just doesn't get it...
Well possibly shutting the hell up and listening might be a good start, but out secretary is such a codie she's let this sick person dominate.I told the secratary that if this lady had walked into AA and told them"I quit this morning and this meeting needs to be about x y and z and I'm very sensitive, balh blahblah" that the AA peeps would say Welcome..now take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth..
Us Alanoners want to "help" so bad we've got a toatally sick meeting now..i told the secratary I'm finding another mtg.
I have been to ones where we use a 3 min. timer..works great.
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:20 AM
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Cyranoak When you are in a mixed group setting (not just al-anon) over the next few weeks, sit back and watch the dynamic. Then ask some of the members who they think did most of the talking. It's fascinating.
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:42 AM
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I' skipped my home group meeting last week (when I really ought to have gone) bc for the past month this one guy (who I am fairly sure falls on the ASD spectrum) talks endlessly (30 min last time I was there) and it's NEVER about himself. It's how everyone around him is so messed up and how much they bother him and how he is sooooo healthy etc... And the damn chair of the meeting says nothing. I finally must have looked annoyed at one point the last time I was there bc when it was my turn to read/share he sighed LOUDLY while I was reading (not even sharing!) and then tapped his foot for the whopping 2 or 3 min that I shared. Looking around the room when he shares (it's a small group) you can tell everyone's uncomfortable but no one says a word.

So, Cyranoak, if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods I'd LOVE you to come tell this jacka$$ off bc the last thing I need when I go to al anon is to be surrounded by someone as self absorbed and narcissistic as my AH.

I know I ought to not let it get to me but it does.
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Old 04-09-2011, 10:54 AM
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Hhhmmm...first of all I love the ass-burgers remark. Had to explain that once to my older daughter because she didn't understand what ass-burgers was...LOL!

Secondly, I am confrontational. My boss called me once a 'fearless communicator' which I chose to take as a compliment and be very proud of. However, I am learning to curb it down a bit and not be so controlling. So my take on this situation may be a little different. I've never had someone dominate a meeting, so I have not had this situation happen before.

What I would most likely do - after I had cut the guy off in a meeting, in front of everyone else (negative confrontation) - is to give it a couple weeks of avoidance, and then take the guy aside after a meeting and apologize for my approach. Because ultimately, it probably wasn't the best way to handle it. And then - the big THEN - I would gently remind the person that this is what sponsors are for - long over-sharing opportunities. But meetings are more focused on solutions shared through ES&H.

My home group follows the preamble that the focus is on US, not the alcoholic. Period. So that really leaves little room for long, rambling stories. I also think bringing up some structure to prevent this in the future at a business meeting is a good idea.

Anyway, C, the apology isn't because you are fundamentally wrong here, but to smooth any ruffled feathers and remove tension for the entire group, while allowing you to again make your point gently. And it shows you to be the bigger person who is really working his program. And then how that dude reacts after that is not your problem, right?!
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyranoak View Post
...but I can't.

After eight years in Alanon I've encountered this dynamic several times and it's been a dude every time.

C'mon dudes! Let's get our **** together on this. Look at the friggen clock! Everybody's shoe pinches and we live in a ******* society!

Cyranoak
I disagree. The meetings I attend are 95% women. I've run into this twice and both times it was women.

The first time I simply did not go back and still haven't to that particular group.

The second time, I simply did not know how to handle it. It was clear to everyone around the group, they were thinking exactly what I was. I was unsure if I should say something, but I am still the newbie, so I felt like the senior members should step up and say something.

I never thought about visiting with them afterwards. I think that would be very uncomfortable for me personally because I am so new to it.

I think the old timers should step up to the plate here.

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Old 04-12-2011, 08:30 AM
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Update...

...so I received some excellent responses on this thread that really made me think, and I also called a couple of the old-timers from my Alanon group and got a response I did not expect at all.

What I expected was some form of, "I agree with the message but not how and when you delivered it-- the group comes first." What I got was, "thanks so much for saying something, this guy's been very dominant lately and I'm glad you said it when you said it." It's an all-mens' group, and maybe that's why, but I'm trying not to let this validate my actions so much that I'm still not reflective.

I'm not sorry at all, but something in my brain is telling me I should be and that I owe him an apology. I'm still not sure what, if anything, I'm going to do in regards to my interaction with him.

I can honestly say I have no ego around this, and I can honestly admit I was controlling in response to his dominance. I have to say, though, that when somebody is stealing my group from me I get very defensive of it. It's funny, when people attack me personally these days I'm able to really understand it's about them and walk away and/or set boundaries. However, when they attack my home, and Alanon is my home, I get very, very, very defensive of it. Primarily to selfishly protect it for me, but also to protect it for others.

No others, no group. No group, no Alanon. No Alanon, no recovery (and for me, no Alanon, no higher power).

Thanks for listening. Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:47 AM
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That's an interesting perspective from the other members of the group. It sounds as if no one wanted to stand up to the guy and are all relieved now that YOU did. Has anyone taken this man aside and explained to him how Al-Anon works? Maybe that would be a good next step for one of the old-timers there.

My thought on apologies (and I have caught a lot of flak for this) is that I am often sorry for not living up to the person I would like to be by being too harsh or blunt in my delivery, or saying something a little too judgmental or critical. I may not be sorry for what I said, but how/when I said it. Often, an apology is for me, to live up to the higher self I am striving to be. This kind of thinking to certain people in my life is wrong, as those people want me to be sorry for even doing whatever it was I was doing.

An example, using this post, "I'm sorry, Mr. Dude, for calling you out on oversharing. That was wrong" versus "I apologize for handling that situation badly, and next time if I have issues with you I will handle it quietly, in private".

One acknowledges generalized wrong, while the other focuses on what, exactly, you feel "sorry" for. It may be me over-analyzing, but I think its important to clarify.

But if you don't feel sorry - then don't apologize. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with what you did.
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:21 AM
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My Al-Anon meeting always has a reading at the beginning (and I haven't found it in the standard literature), that mentions how the group as a whole needs to focus on the needs of the group as a whole, rather than the individual, to do the most good.

I would say that what you did falls into that category.

Nobody could get the help they needed as a group because an individual insisted on using the meeting for his own purpose.

Hopefully this person will have learned from the experience and, if not, hopefully other members of your group will be more likely to speak up now if this person tries it again.

There is a man who attends my regular meeting, who has a tendency to ramble and rant and rave. He's a nice guy, but it really does disrupt the meeting. The chairperson started saying something to him when we had larger attendance, and he listened. He knows he has a problem rambling, hasn't been able to solve that yet, but now he does limit his sharing to meetings with fewer people (so there's more time available for each person to share), or to after the actual meeting.

It may take some time, but I'm sure he'll catch on.
I do agree with Tuffgirl, if you feel the need to apologize, make sure you specify what you're apologizing for, so he understands you do not regret what you did, just how you did it. And if you don't feel the need to apologize, that's okay, too, because while I'm sure you were blunt, you were honest, and did not say anything to intentionally upset or harm, so there's no need to apologize.

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Old 04-12-2011, 10:32 AM
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There is a guy who used to completely overlook all the rules of the meetings in my home group.
He overshared his time, would also come rather late, after the door was closed, and ignore the 15 minute late rule, of not coming in.

He would share and share, and people did get upset.
One of the ladies brought it up at a meeting when he was NOT in attendance.
The chair asked if anyone else felt he was disruptive to the process. Every hand went up.

The next week, he showed up 20 minutes late, walked in without a care, and when share time came, he began to talk.
The person heading the meeting that noght interrupted him, and offered a reiteration of the rules of our group.
He said, "yeah?" as if he had no idea.
She had to spell it out.
YOu speak for 3 x longer than everyone else, and we would appreciate that if you cannot attend this meeting on time, then you should find one that better suits your schedule.

He took offense, and never came back to that meeting, but took up with one across town, which I attended once in a pinch.
There he was, walking in 15 minuts late after door was closed, and oversharing his head off, LOL>

You cant change people, just make boundaries and let thenm go their way.
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:26 PM
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I agree--there are a couple of those guys in my meeting... and typically they ramble about stuff that seems irrelevant to the topic at hand. But they don't usually exceed 5 minutes, so it's OK.

I can just go with it for the most part, unless there is a new person in the group, and I worry that that might turn THEM off if it is their first Al-Anon meeting. It would be a shame if they never went to another meeting because of one errant attendee.

I do think the business meeting is the time to bring it up, and the group "leader" if you have one can maybe tactfully handle it with the offending person.


PS, Cyranoak, yes, I hate to be sexist, but both overbearing guys in my meeting are "dudes." The dudettes are usually apologetic and more inclined to pass when it's their turn to speak. Just sayin'....
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