I have lived in my condo for about ten years. It’s an old Victorian house surrounded by beautiful mature trees.  A new person has moved into one of the units and she keep suggesting we prune or cut down various trees. She lives in the top floor unit which is a rather attic-like space, and she says she has grown to feel claustrophobic there. She wants to cut back the trees from her windows so she gets more light. I can understand where she is coming from, but I really like the trees. In my opinion she bought a unit with not a lot of direct sun, and trimming back the trees isn’t going to change that. Most recently she burst into tears at a condo meeting. She says she’s afraid she’s not going to be able to stay in the unit. My reaction was ‘great!’ – move! Other condo owners fell for the tears and suggested we find a solution. Why do I have to lose trees that I like?

You know AKA was just about to offer up tips about negotiating and conflict resolution and being mindful of others needs and then you told me that she burst into tears at the condo meeting. Are you frickin’ kidding me?

She’s emotionally unbalanced. Stand your ground and wait for her to move out. I’m sorry but normal grown-up human beings don’t burst into tears at condo meetings. She’s a Drama Queen and clearly unstable and you need to say that to the other condo members. Grow a pair darling or you are as complacent in the tree denuding as the others who give in to her. Drama Queens operate on a the domino effect – give them an inch and they take a mile. AKA hates Drama Queens. Can you tell? Anyway, she has buyer’s remorse – it isn’t going to stop with the trees.

The one thing that I can give you to offer as a concession is that trees should not be touching windows or roofs – there is lots of room for potential damage there – from rot and mold but also to the shingles and siding. Perhaps, to maintain your facade of unequivocal charm and thoughtfulness, you should suggest to the condo association that you have the trees pruned to prevent any damage to the building but further than that and you all run the risk of destroying an element of the building that adds great value to your property. Avoid histrionics. The more sane you sound, the more insane she will sound. It’s one of AKA’s favorite tricks for dealing with whiners/lunatics/yell-y people. Smile and nod darling…smile and nod.

In side conversations with allies on the condo board don’t hesitate to point out that your little garret-dweller is insane. Who cares if she moves out – she is just going to keep making problems as long as she stays. Do NOT let her diminish your property values because she is having second thoughts about purchasing a place that isn’t working for her. Perhaps you should talk to her yourself and remind her that great artists like Degas and literary Bohemians (see Dostoyevsky) loved living in garrets (right up until the point where they died from hunger or TB or went insane). Ok, ok, AKA is just joking. Don’t poke the crazy tiger in the attic but do stand your ground and bring the ‘sane’ to match her ‘crazy.’