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Handling Class Hecklers

Hi everybody, I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays wtih Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question:

I’m involved in a production training for my company. I am the trainer for this class. I have one person in the class that is a class clown and is constantly disruptive. Also, she has put me on the spot and embarrassed me in front of the class. I feel like calling her out in the middle of the class and embarrassing her back. But then I think to myself, WWMD, What Would Mike Do?

Well, if you’ve ever seen me work, you know that when people are disruptive in class I largely ignore them. Unless they call me out.

Here’s the thing. If you get somebody disruptive in class, you can never win. Because the minute you take on a class member, the class will turn on you.

So you have to do your best to make them understand that you are the expert, and the reason you are the expert is because for years you did what you’re asking them to do. Just double down back on your instructions. If they say something funny, you can say something funny back. (But if you’re not funny, don’t try this!) Just keep moving.

But whatever you do, don’t let them see you sweat. The heckler can never ever win if you don’t let them win. It’s very skillful, but if you embarrass them back, I would just say “Hey, that’s how I learned, that’s how you’re gonna learn, get back to it.” If they’re funny, I would just say “That was pretty funny. We should go on the road together.” and then move on so that they don’t feel like they’ve got you in a corner. It’s usually a sign of their own insecurity, I would let the water roll off your back.

I’m Mike Staver, take care.

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