You need to have read part one of this series where I laid out two scenarios and asked the question;
Why do Breathless Betty and Chatty Cathy not behave the same way that you and Susan did at WSSC?
It's my worldly perspective that the major difference between those two situations boils down to respect. You and Susan show your respect for Josh Taylor by behaving correctly – riding in silence. Breathless Betty and Chatty Cathy aren't showing the instructor in scenario #1 any respect > make sense?
So if in one instance people are disrespecting you and the other's in your class by talking, but in a different situation they wouldn't, the obvious question to ask is WHY? Why do people act disrespectfully? The whole concept of why people do what they do is fascinating to me. Back in 2011 I introduced you to the concept of Start with WHY and that it's important to understand why you are doing what you do… and why some of your participants do what they do.
I see three possible reasons why:
- They don't know they are acting disrespectfully…
- They don't care they are acting disrespectfully…
- They're disrespecting you on purpose…
I'm making the assumption that your goal is a quiet, focused class – where you're the only one doing the talking. If it's a yard-sale (neither quiet or focused) – with others talking (besides you), I feel it's super important to truly understand why (what's the real reason), before you can effectively address the problem.
Was there ever a time when you made an assumption about the motivations behind a person's actions, only to be horribly embarrassed when you discovered you had it completely wrong?
We don't want that to happen, so lets explore these three potential reasons a participant in your class would disrespect you. Then we'll know the right ways to address the issues.
OMG! I had no idea 🙁
In my little story about your participation in Josh Taylor's class, your friend Susan acts embarrassed when she realizes that attempting to start a conversation with you was completely inappropriate.
Most people care and wouldn't purposefully act disrespectfully toward you. So we can assume that the reason why the are talking… is because they don't understand that they shouldn't. Unfortunately there are a lot of Instructors who don't have control of their class. I've ridden in many classes where the Instructor has either given up, or are too afraid to do anything.
So there's a good chance that your talkers have experienced other classes where they felt free to talk, so they feel perfectly free to chat away in yours. This group will apologize to you, after you apply the solution you'll find in part three.
I teach at an “Athletic” (most expensive) level Life Time Fitness in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis. A trip through the parking lot will confirm that my typical participants are very well to do. It's common for me to reassuringly pet the dash of my humble Mazda3, as I park between $100k S Class Mercedes, 6 and 7 series BMW's, Lexus', Audi's, Land Rovers and Escalades on Thursday mornings.
Some people of “means” can act – how should I say it? – a bit entitled. I'm sure you've met a few people like this. They (if you ask them) feel that because they are spending a lot of money to be a member, they expect to be able to do pretty much whatever they damn well please. When you make general comments about riding quietly, these folks don't think it applies to them > does that sound familiar to you?
My experience is that these are the people who get mad if you confront them directly > “how dare you!” They are also the group who will pull rank and complain to management, if you don't correct them properly.
I'm the leader here, not you!
A few years ago I wrote this post; Two Places Where Democracies Don’t Work.
The concept of a democracy; social groups where everyone works together, contributes equally and respects the needs of others sounds good… but rarely works out well in the real world. I can’t think of better places to demonstrate this than in your class or on an outdoor group ride. Both these collections of people require a leader… or chaos ensues.
There are members who will purposefully challenge your authority as the leader of your class.
You may have experienced this at some point in your teaching career. Maybe it was some participant in the back row holding court with those sitting around him. The effect is disrupting to your class and it may have irritated, if not angered you.
I view a large part of this as simple disrespect, but sometimes it’s not. It may be helpful to look at it a different way; the disruptive student may be trying to assert themselves as leader of your class.
At the time I got some grief on Facebook about that post. So before you dismiss the possibility (“this never happens John!”) that there are members who are trying to take control away from you, I'd like you to think back and see if anything like this has ever happened to you…
- That gal who talks endlessly with whoever is riding near her – while she looks straight at you? She maybe testing you, waiting for your response.
- That guy who's in the front row defiantly doing his own thing? No question about it. You might catch him watching in the mirror to see if anyone will follow his movements, instead of yours.
- That jerk who's always late. He strolls in and takes his sweet time getting set up front & center. He's trying to take control of your class by distracting everyone. The “LOOK AT ME!” narcissists of the world live to try and tear down others in authority.
- “I hate this song!” Ever had some A**hole who complains or criticises you publicly? There are insecure people in the world who are intent on pulling you down, thinking it will elevate them in the eyes of others.
Your class isn't a democracy. Only you can be the sole leader in your class… if you don't protect your role as the leader, someone else could try to take it from you.
Now I hopefully have you thinking about the specific problem in your class.
Here's part three where I offer my strategies and methods for addressing/correcting each instance of when people act disrespectfully (talk) in your class.
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