Rambling -- wandering around and off the subject. Using far-fetched examples or analogies.
- Refocus attention by restating relevant point.
- Direct questions to group that is back on the subject
- Ask how topic relates to current topic being discussed.
- Use visual aids, begin to write on board, turn on overhead projector.
- Say: "Would you summarize your main point please?" or "Are you asking...?"
Shyness or Silence -- lack of participation.
- Change teaching strategies from group discussion to individual written exercises or a videotape
- Give strong positive reinforcement for any contribution.
- Involve by directly asking him/her a question.
- Make eye contact.
- Appoint to be small group leader.
Talkativeness -- knowing everything, manipulation, chronic whining.
- Acknowledge comments made.
- Give limited time to express viewpoint or feelings, and then move on.
- Make eye contact with another participant and move toward that person.
- Give the person individual attention during breaks.
- Say: "That's an interesting point. Now let's see what other other people think."
Sharpshooting -- trying to shoot you down or trip you up.
- Admit that you do not know the answer and redirect the question the group or the individual who asked it.
- Acknowledge that this is a joint learning experience.
- Ignore the behavior.
Heckling/Arguing -- disagreeing with everything you say; making personal attacks.
- Redirect question to group or supportive individuals.
- Recognize participant's feelings and move one.
- Acknowledge positive points.
- Say: "I appreciate your comments, but I'd like to hear from others," or "It looks like we disagree."
Grandstanding -- getting caught up in one's own agenda or thoughts to the detriment of other learners.
- Say: "You are entitled to your opinion, belief or feelings, but now it's time we moved on to the next subject," or "Can you restate that as a question?" or "We'd like to hear more about that if there is time after the presentation."
Overt Hostility/Resistance -- angry, belligerent, combative behavior.
- Hostility can be a mask for fear. Reframe hostility as fear to depersonalize it.
- Respond to fear, not hostility.
- Remain calm and polite. Keep your temper in check.
- Don't disagree, but build on or around what has been said.
- Move closer to the hostile person, maintain eye contact.
- Always allow him or her a way to gracefully retreat from the confrontation.
- Say: "You seem really angry. Does anyone else feel this way?" Solicit peer pressure.
- Do not accept the premise or underlying assumption, if it is false or prejudicial, e.g., "If by "queer" you mean homosexual..."
- Allow individual to solve the problem being addressed. He or she may not be able to offer solutions and will sometimes undermine his or her own position.
- Ignore behavior.
- Talk to him or her privately during a break.
- As a last resort, privately ask the individual to leave class for the good of the group.
Griping -- maybe legitimate complaining.
- Point out that we can't change policy here.
- Validate his/her point.
- Indicate you'll discuss the problem with the participant privately.
- Indicate time pressure.
Side Conversations -- may be related to subject or personal. Distracts group members and you.
- Don't embarrass talkers.
- Ask their opinion on topic being discussed.
- Ask talkers if they would like to share their ideas.
- Casually move toward those talking.
- Make eye contact with them.
- Comment on the group (but don't look at them "one-at-a-time").
- Standing near the talkers, ask a nea-by participant a question so that the new discussion is near the talkers.
- As a last resort, stop and wait.
Adapted from: California Nurses Association, AIDS Train the Trainer Program for Health Care Providers (1988)