I've recently started working in an non profit organization. We're working on different fields, one of them is work in a neighborhood where a lot of underprivileged people live. There we do most of our activities in a community center that is publicly run by a board of people from the community. The person that we come most often in contact with is a man that runs a bar in the community center, but he also takes care of the order in the community center, takes care of the keys, ...

Although I have the feeling that he (and the community center's board) appreciates our work here, he keeps making things difficult for us. He keeps coming up with rules that make no sense to us but interferer with our activities. He does these things without any approval from the board, however we can not expect any support from the board itself (they're on "his side"). When he's contradicting us it almost seams that he does that to feel important. I would speculate that he is bored with his uninspiring job and does this counter-productive things with the best intention of keeping the place in order.

It is very unlikely that he will be replaced and the community center is very important to our activities, so we need to make this work. What would in your opinion be the best way to deal with him and this situation?


  • hello, consider editing the question to make it better fit site topics laid out in help center. In particular, this guidance may help to learn what is expected of questions here. Good luck!
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 11:44
  • @gnat, how specifically should I change the question? I've come across "undermining your work because I don't have anything better to do" attitude several times in my NGO career, so I'd imagine that the solutions would be applicable to other situations.
    – fuzzyguest
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 12:22
  • @gnat I fully agree with the OP. This question reads more like the example of what a question should look like in the linked guidance.
    – Myles
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


You are a guest in his turf. You don't have to understand why his rules exist or even agree with them, you have to understand that he has the right to make them. If it makes things harder for you, then that is the price of doing business on someone else's property.

The very best way to get this guy on your side is to cooperate with him fully. To follow his rules no matter how silly you think they are. You need to have an attitude of cooperation. No eye rolling, no sarcasm, no objecting. You can ask respectfully how to do something. Ask him for guidance before you start setting up. Show him some respect.

Your suspicions of his motives need to be turned off. Why he does what he does is none of your business. It is his place and therefore his rules. Perhaps instead of him being bored, he feels the antagonism you have have for him and his "unimportant' job and is pushing back. Or maybe some other organizations have done things that made him have to tighten the rules. Or maybe he is just having a bad time in his personal life. Who cares. None of your business.


One possible solution is next time you are talking to the board come up with a list of examples of rules that you were not previously made aware and how they interfered with your planned activities. At that point you could request a more comprehensive list of what the rules are so you can effectively use this space because how things are working now are unduly causing stress on the event/activity planners within your organization. That is a reasonable request that will put this person in a position of appearing unreasonable if they continue their behavior.

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