There's a recurring issue that keeps popping up on Facebook and Pedal-On forum:
Does anyone have a suggestion about to do about the consistent talkers in my classes? They're really disruptive, but I don't what to offend anyone. What should I do?
What follows are a series of well meaning suggestions from other Instructors; turn down the music, make a light joke - you don't want me to have to split you two up, do you?, stand between them, etc.
Others state something like; it's their ride, they're the paying customer, so I let them talk.
I don't feel any of these simple solutions are directed at the real problem or identify the real cause. In many cases there are no "simple" solutions. There will be a number of you won't be comfortable with the solutions I do plan to share. But before I go any further, I'd like your responses to what you see as the fundamental difference between these two scenarios:
Breathless Betty and Chatty Cathy are long time fixtures at your club. They are inseparable and always ride the same two bikes (second row from the front, just off center) they have for years. They're talking as they come in and continue, non-stop, through your's (and everyone else's) class. Betty spends much of the class sitting up, soft pedaling, while looking and listening to Cathy. Cathy from a distance appears to be following the class, but never shuts up.
You've tried everything you can think of and have even asked them both privately to please stop talking in class. They don't. To make matters worse they've complained to the GM how they feel you've embarrassed them.
Despite your best efforts to ignore them, the negative affect these two have on you is wearing. Rather than being excited about teaching, you feel anxious, powerless and your class presentation suffers - resulting in fewer participants.
You are super excited! You've staked out two great bikes (second row from the front, just off center) for Josh Taylor's Fighter Pilot ride at WSSC. Joining you for the ride is your dear friend Susan, who you only see once a year when you're together in Miami. You both laugh about how expensive this ride is, but agree that it will be so worth every penny. Josh mounts his custom Blade Ion. The lights come down. And with the start of the music, Josh launches into the ride.
Ten minutes in Susan looks over at you and asks; "so... how are your kids?" You're shocked in disbelief; doesn't she realize where we are? Without even thinking you turn to Susan and place your index finger across your closed lips > the universal sign for "Be Quiet". Susan gets the hint immediately and you sense her embarrassment. The two of you ride in silence for the remaining time of the ride.
So what's the difference?
Why do Breathless Betty and Chatty Cathy not behave the same way that you and Susan did at WSSC?
In part two we'll explore what I feel is the answer to this and why, exactly, this happens.
Originally posted 2015-01-19 11:02:41.
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Good article, John.
It may be that Betty and Cathy have less experience with training and embody more of the drop-in class mentality. I do know that people on the bikes in front of nonstop talkers sometimes complain afterward.
In any case, here’s a technique for stopping ongoing conversation in a class, but it requires being off the bike. Simply continue to teach, but walk close to the talkers. It’s not necessary to stand between them, and it’s not confrontational. It helps if you’re delivering good content.
If it raises credibility, I learned the technique personally from Jim Karanas.
You are such a great writer, John! I read this post like a short story and enjoyed it very much.
Thanks Lena – I really appreciate that 🙂
Yes you are a great writer John!
It appears it’s a difference in respect possibly…for members and the instructor.
What do you think and where are you going with this? Can’t wait to see!