All those in favour, signify by saying aye; contrary minded, nay”

I am chairing my first PEI Home and School Federation meeting tonight. We have a full agenda, and I’m equal parts daunted and excited.

I stand on the shoulders of giants in this new role: both the presidents who have come before me in the 61 years of PEIHSF history, and those Islanders I’ve looked to as mentors in the ways of Roberts Rules of Order over my time on PEI: people like Leonard Russell, Sterling Stratton, Marion Murphy and Hon. Marion Reid, each of whom has taught me so much about how to conduct meetings efficiently and earnestly, and how paying attention to process, even if it might feel like acting in an Edwardian play, is important.

I will never forget Leonard’s stentorian voice when he was chair of the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust putting motions to a vote:

All those in favour, signify by saying aye,” he would say, and then “contrary-minded, nay.”

So much better than “those in favour, those against.”

And so that will be my clarion call in his honour. Even if it does feel like 1877 all over again.

Wish us luck.

Epilogue: I couldn’t say “signify by saying aye” to save my life and eventually resorted to “those in favour”; and in my drive to keep things moving along smoothly, I ended up speaking about 4x faster than the secretary could reasonably be expected to keep up with. But we had a good turnout and some good discussion and learned some lessons for the next meeting.


Lee Ross's picture
Lee Ross on January 15, 2015 - 16:31 Permalink

I had to comment when I saw this; I was on a large board where the chair used the "all in favour / contrary minded" phrasing, and a lot of people hated it and found it offensive. The reason is that most people now understand the word "contrary" when used on its own to mean negative, argumentative, or just not willing to agree with others. Thus, when you say "contrary minded" it subtly suggests that those who are not in favour are being difficult or petty, where board terms should always be neutral. Also, the full phrase "contrary minded" further supports that feeling by suggesting that it's just the way you think in general -- you don't get along with others. Granted, my board was for a university and everyone had advanced degrees, so their take on it may differ from those who are not quite so adept with lanauge. I definitely hated it and I always felt a bit offended when asked to vote "nay" in that way. I am a board consultant and always advise against using this phrase. Just my two cents :)