While this incident happened in a volunteer setting, I think the interaction could happen in many settings. I'm wondering how I could have better handled the situation.
As I've mentioned in prior posts, I'm a Girl Scout leader (for not quite a year.) At this time of year, we hold informational meetings to help parents and other adults start up new troops. As a volunteer organization, it highly relies on volunteers to step up to lead a troop of girls. If not enough parents are willing to work in a leader role, girls will be wait-listed until there is an opening in a troop. Last year, there were many (70-80) girls in our service unit on wait lists.
Last week I helped out at an informational meeting to try to encourage parents to volunteer and start up new troops. Shortly after the meeting started, a woman came in late and sat down. The person in charge (also a volunteer troop leader) has started her talk. I walked over to the late arriver and gave her some papers. She then says (with an attitude in her voice) that they moved here a year ago from out of state, her daughters were in troops in old state, and she has been given the run around over the past year trying to get her daughters in new troops. Tone can be thard to convey, but I felt as if she was blaming me for her lack of success. Instinctively, I was put on the defensive and just pointed to the woman talking, said everyone here was here to get troops started, and perhaps she should listen to the presenter.
A few people told me that I was fine under the circumstances. If she had come early, I would have been able to address her concerns to a small extent, but there was someone talking and I wanted give her attention and have respect for those listening. However, I also feel my abrupt comments didn't help her feel heard. Thoughts?