Article posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012 10:39am

Dear Mary Pat,

Recently at a town meeting I was appalled at the body language of one of the supervisors. From the outset she made it clear that she was not interested in what the citizens had to say about their interests. She slumped in her chair, let her head drop to her chest, rolled her eyes and made faces when the public were speaking. I have never seen a public representative act so appallingly.

My niece from out-of-state was present in the audience. She teaches sixth grade and wanted to raise her hand to tell this representative that her behavior and posturing would never be tolerated in the classroom. Is there a course for body etiquette and language that can be recommended?

Appalled at Adult Body Language

Dear Appalled at Adult Body Language,

The behavior of the supervisor seems very immature and passive aggressive. There are other, more effective, ways to disagree with her constituents, such as calmly stating the opposite point and making direct eye contact. Eye rolling, poor posture and making faces is not going to win many votes during the next election either. (Maybe that is her goal?)

It is her job to listen to the citizens she is representing, even if she doesn’t agree with what they are saying. I don’t know the particulars about what was being discussed at the meeting; however, I would guess that the supervisor had an opportunity to give her opinion just as the public did. The dramatic eye rolling, etc. is very disrespectful. Anyone who has sat on a community or civic board knows that it can oftentimes be thankless. However, that does not mean that all decorum should be thrown out the window. I have witnessed some community meeting dust-ups that could give the BBC a run for its money in the drama department. While this might make for an entertaining story at the post office the next day, it sure doesn’t solve very much.

It would be great if we could all remember that we live in a small community and are likely to run into our neighbors again and again…and again. I hope that your niece witnesses better behavior when she visits next. And honestly, I don’t think you would have been out of line to say something about this behavior during the meeting, as long as it was phrased calmly and respectfully. I’m hoping that maybe someone else has since said something and the next meeting will begin with an apology.

Good luck,

Mary Pat