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I am a part of an activity group of 10 members (in our case: theatre). We mostly get along pretty well, know each other for quite some years already, but have worked as such a group only for a year by now. At the moment, a split seems to be inevitable in the next season as the majority of the group has a bit of a problem with one person in a group.

This person (he) has been the activity mentor of most people from the group in the past and has definitely had at least a bit of a hand in helping them achieve their current status. The person is the oldest in the group, being 5-10 years older than all the others (so there is a bit of a generation gap perhaps). The person is prone to outbursts of infectious bad mood, prone to scheming (telling different things to different people in the group to achieve his goal) and is well aware of his own senior/mentor position in the group (shows that by behaviour often).

A clique of the size of half of the group is determined to throw the person out of the group as they especially do not get along neither on stage, neither on our exercises and meetings and are pretty dealt up with the person. They do not get along in terms of group vision and philosophy.

My position: I am somewhere in between the person and the clique as far as group vision and philosophy go, but am also fed up with some of the scheming and antics of the person and would rather continue working with the clique that wants the person out of the group than not.

I am worried though about the mental status of the person if this throw-out goes as planned and would like to keep at least semi-friendly relation with the person in the long-run as we will certainly be seeing each other at least from time to time on community activities. Although the person has not been my mentor I am already feeling bad about myself just for thinking about doing this since we have known each other for plenty years now.

Other people in the group: one with a position similar to mine, one who is a bit inactive and one who is most likely to stick with the person till the end.

I am terribly sorry if this all seems confusing, but I believe that the context and at least some sub contexts (there are of course more) must be know in order to appreciate the complexity of the case.

How could this be resolved in at least an appropriate manner?

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    Do you have periodic meetings or such on which you discuss things with the entire group? – Robin Jun 19 '18 at 12:11
  • There are bi-annual meetings and one is fast approaching. The clique will (very likely) want to "throw" the person out during that meeting. Otherwise we see eacother quite often and are able to discuss these matters in smaller groups regulary. – V.V.Laseh Jun 19 '18 at 12:19
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    I would also suggest doing it at one of those meetings, but I wonder. Have any of you talked to the person about this behavior? Maybe they are willing to change it? You made it sound like their counseling/ tutoring is of a certain worth, so perhaps trying to mend things is a better solution if possible? – Robin Jun 19 '18 at 12:24
  • He is an excellent tutor and may be ready to take some criticism, but is also quite proud and emotional. I am planning to present this idea (to talk to the person about minor changes and try a middle path) to the clique, but I am not sure if they will want to try it. If you feel that you are not long-term compatible with someone in performing arts and have no fun while doing it, there may really not be much point in persisting. Still, I would like to at least balance the situation at the meeting. The person is fun to hang out from time to time, but hard to work with for the whole season. – V.V.Laseh Jun 19 '18 at 12:42
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    Yes, What I meant was instead of saying 'We are breaking up', perhaps it is better to say 'We do not like how things are right now, if you can not promise us that this will change, it will be in the best interest for everybody that we break up' – Robin Jun 19 '18 at 12:45
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  1. Talk it through.

I've observed the following in my life:

Someone in a position of power acts in a negative way. Additionally they act in an unapproachable way. So people don't talk to the person. Instead they talk amongst themselves. The negativity amplifies. Soon there are immense negative feelings toward the person with power. In my opinion more than what is warranted.

How to avoid this? Talk to the person in position of power.

I've also seen this work well. (And I haven't seen you mentioning it.) For some reason people aren't so negative when they're talking to the object of their negativity. People will be so negative when they're talking behind someone's back. But not as much to their face. So it's more likely to go well.

  1. Set some boundaries.

In order for him to remain in the activity group as a member, come up with a list of demands. You mention several problems with him, but I don't understand the situation enough to give you a suggestion here.

  1. Have the goal be reconciliation and preserving the relationship.

Things can go sour. If he starts getting defensive, then you may be tempted react negatively, too. Then people start saying things out of hurt, bitterness, etc. Then the relationship deteriorates. So be prepared that he gets defensive.

If he starts going on a rant. Listen. Listen to understand. Don't interupt. This will be important to show that you care about him, his feeings and what he has to say.

Do not reciprocate any negativity. Be factual. Be honest. Say how you feel. But don't be negative toward him. Instead of "you do bad things and I want you to suffer" you should think "you do bad things and I want see you change".

Make it a point that you want to continue being friends, either way, and this is just about remaining in the activity group.

Being intentional about preserving the relationship is critical to preserving the relationship.

  1. Plan out the conversation.

I'd recommend writing out exactly what you want to say as practice. That way you have all the ideas in your head. Then bring a paper with high level notes on it. Make sure you cover everything you have planned. That way if he starts manipulating the conversation, you can go back to the plan. The infectious bad mood and scheming made me think he was possibly manipulative, so that's why I'm including this.

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    I think your "you're a bad person and I want to see you change" should be "you're doing bad things and I want to see you change". Also tell him that many other people are made unhappy by this, to make it clear this isn't just you. – David Thornley Jun 19 '18 at 16:00

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