Handling Difficult Participants


Sooner or later every MoveSMART® instructor encounters a difficult participant or group. Because they come in all shapes and sizes, a pat answer on how to handle them isn’t realistic. It does help to identify the source of the difficult behavior. Knowing the source helps guide the best response. Here are three most common sources of difficult behavior.

Personality: People (and most groups) have personalities. Some are rowdy while others are quite and well mannered. Some are friendly while others are grouchy. It’s not that they are especially trying to be difficult. They’re just being themselves. You still have to deal with them, but it’s nothing personal.

Situational: Stress has a huge effect on behavior. Feeling put-upon, taken for granted, or unfairly blamed sets people on edge – and puts a few in a fighting mood. Being fatigued or hungry can do the same. If you can appreciate the stresses associated with what is going on with your participants it puts you in a better position to cope well.

Strategic: If people want something to happen they do what they think will achieve their goal. If you can figure out what the person, or group, wants then you can address their actions appropriately by either granting their wishes or letting them know that it just isn’t going to happen.

Of course the sources sometimes overlap, which reflects the complexity of some behavior. None of us need to be psychoanalysts, but being an effective MoveSMART instructor is part being a technique master and part human behavior expert.

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