Disagreements in Sheds

1 December 2020

Sometimes there are disagreements in Men’s Sheds between members and between members of the management committee.

The first thing I want to say is that this is not uncommon, as people are often passionate about their Shed, probably because it means so much to them.

Sometimes disagreements occur about the direction a Shed is going or other matters such as health and safety. With people bringing different experience of the world of work or past experience to the Shed.

If these disagreements occur, don’t feel it’s unusual or that you have failed. In a way it’s all part of the group development process of:  Storming, Norming and Performing.

The key is that above process is given time and not rushed so that people have their views and ideas heard and acknowledged. A phrase I have used is that sometimes people need a “Good Listening to”. The difficulty is that others may be in a hurry or used to taking a more dictatorial approach, which means that people may feel they are being discounted or even ganged up on.

In my view, it’s actually sometimes good in the development of a new shed that it takes time to find suitable premises and apply for charitable status.  This gives the time for members of the shed development group to get to know each other and work out what the shed is all about; without the encumbrance of actually managing the shed on a day to day basis.

The other point to bear in mind is the process of disagreement and resolution is actually both circular and linear, i.e. there will be new experiences to work through, learn from in the future and each experience will deepen and strengthen the team and the process is a bit like a coil spring with coils both going round and along at the same time.

Experiencing a disagreement, talking about it, learning from it, and moving forward.

There is a danger that if people don’t feel they are being “listened to and acknowledged” that the process will get stuck, the emotional temperature will rise and may boil over and there may be heated arguments with accusations made and people walking out.

If this does occur everyone will be a loser, both the shed and the people or person who has left.

Sometimes, it seems even the slightest thing can cause someone to react in a way which seems out of proportion to what has occurred.  In these situations, it’s probably due to some baggage the person is carrying with them. Some past hurt or trauma that has left a wound. Which means that when something similar occurs this can trigger the feelings they experienced the first time around.

For example, this could have been being bulled in the workplace, or as a child, experiencing a traumatic event or witnessing something like an accident at work or in the armed services or abandonment.

What is important is that the person is listened to, supported and not to be made feel bad about what’s happened, as this may have a further negative impact on their mental health. It may in fact be appropriate to sign post them to mental health support through their G.P. or other health professional.

However, certain behaviour isn’t acceptable and it’s useful to have a Code of Conduct clearly displayed so shed members are aware of what is expected of them.

In conclusion it’s worth remembering that disagreements will occur for a whole variety of reasons, some of which may be totally unconnected to the shed.  It’s important to remember that no one is perfect, but we can all show respect for each other.  Making sure we listen carefully to one other and give the process of developing and running a shed the time and space it needs keeping everyone on board and so people don’t feel they have to leave or leave others behind.