So what happens if “Negative Nancy” is your friend or family member? She doesn’t make the best book club member but outside of that she’s a good friend and if she’s family unfortunately you can’t act like she never existed! So how do you tell her that she sucks as a book club member, while ‘gently’ shoving her out the nearest exit door and keep the peace all at the same time?
Well I’ve been there and done that before! Most of the time when these situations come up it’s usually with a personal friend or family member that joins the book club or with someone that you’ve become close to in the book club. And for different reasons that person can’t separate your role as the book club president with you being their friend or family member and they basically feel like the bylaws that are created for the book club was meant for everyone else to follow but THEM!
Before you get to the point that you feel like you need to dismiss a member from the book club, I would first make sure that you’re not creating a situation where this scenario will ever ring true! The first thing you need to do is make sure that the friend or family member understands how important the book club is to you. Sometimes friends and family members will join the book club because they want to support your efforts but don’t realize that they too need to make sure they are being responsible and supportive by respecting the book club as a whole.
Make sure you have book club bylaws in place and that all members understand that you expect everyone to follow them as a book club member. Having bylaws in place can be your saving grace because no one can really argue that they are following the bylaws if they show you proof through their actions all the time! Hold your friends and family members accountable just like the other members. There shouldn’t be any exceptions for them just because of who they are to you.
When you see potential issues arise, don’t be afraid to address them sooner rather than later. When you allow members to continue their negative behavior you are allowing them to bring down the moral and energy of the entire book club. Your loyal book club members won’t see the point of participating in book club meetings anymore or abiding by the bylaws.
Don’t address the member about their behavior in front of the group, unless that person puts you in a position where you have to say something to them at that moment. This will help the person exit the group without them being completely shunned by other members. They’re already causing friction but this doesn’t mean that the member couldn’t possibly rejoin the group at a later date, which will
give everyone time to regroup and be more positive towards one another if this were to happen.
Discuss the issues with the member face to face or by phone instead of communicating by email or text. Emails and text messages can be interpreted in a different way than what you intended. The longer the person has to go back over the words the more time they have to misinterpret what you said and misconstrue the intended purpose of the email. Also, this type of communication comes across as impersonal, especially when you’re dealing with family and friends.
Let the person know that you love that they want to support you by being a book club member but you feel that it’s best that they not be a part of the book club for whatever reasons that you have. This can be tough but most of the time if they are level headed people they will understand. This is also a time where you can offer to help them either find another book club to be a part of or create their own book club. Offering to help them create their own book club would allow them to do what they want with their own group and maybe the two groups can have joint meetings every once in awhile or find other ways to support one another.
Continue to hang out and keep in touch with your friend or family member as you normally would. Remember you wanted them out of your book club not out of your life.
Book Club 101 Magazine Publisher & Editor in Chief