Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Dealing With Challenging People

DEAR NATALIE: I was recently asked to chair a local nonprofit event here in the city. I gladly said yes, which I am now regretting. The board that I am dealing with has its own agenda and interests in how things should be run at the event. We are butting heads to say the least. I feel as though there are too many egos to contend with, and I'm only one person. And this is a volunteer position, for goodness's sake! I want the event to be beautiful and make money for the charity, but I also don't want to lose my sanity or friends. Any suggestions as to how to navigate this? -- Board of This

DEAR BOARD OF THIS: It can be quite a challenge working with a group of strong-willed, successful people who have their own opinions on how best to run the ship. But, they asked you to chair the event, so step up as a servant-leader. This means, find out what the strengths and interests are from each board member, and provide two options for each person for how they can best help with the event. Then delegate responsibility from there, but make it sound as though you are accommodating them and what they wanted to do. At the end of the day, the goal is to raise money and impact the organization in a positive way. By keeping that goal in mind (and your own ego in check) you can navigate these tricky waters successfully. And enjoy a glass of red wine at the end of it. That helps, too.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Like attracts like. In all networking situations, you will attract what you put out there, so always work hard to make a great first impression with positive words and friendly body language. Like Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)