Tag: workplace issues

May I Ask A Quick Question?

I have been both an instructor and student in many classes in my job over the years. Most of my training has involved some type of software class which almost turns my brain to mush by the end of the class. Unfortunately, I am not one who catches on as quickly as some folks do but it eventually connects. I process things in my own way and my own speed.

In my experience and hundreds of hours in a classroom I can tell you that although each class is different and students change there are always the same types of personalities in each class. Here are some of the common ones:

The Smartest Person in the Room

First, there is the person who wants to be the smartest person in the room. When they ask questions, they aren’t asking because they don’t know the answer, they are asking so they can demonstrate how smart they are. I even heard this type of student actually ask “may I ask a self-serving question?” That’s a pretty good indicator on who this type is in the class. There’s a saying that goes “it’s not bragging if nobody cares”. Same thought goes for that person or persons who want to be the smartest person in the room.

The Frequent Question Asker

Then you have the person that starts their question with: “Can I ask a quick question?” This student is usually going to be the frequent question asker and rarely will it ever be a “quick” question and most likely be the same person who asks questions to challenge the instructor. They will ask questions or make comments to challenge the instructor’s knowledge of the subject matter they are teaching.

The Dumb Questioner

This thing they say sometimes about there is never a dumb question…yes there is and there will be some. They are often the ones who get totally off the subject.

The Smart Ass/Class Clown

In every class there will be the smartass or class clown whose intent is to make everything a joke. Yes, this still happens even with adults. I wonder if these types are trying to relive their high school days.

So where do I fit in the classroom? I can tell you that I am not one to ask questions unless it really presses on me to do so. Usually one of the other personalities will ask the question that’s on my mind anyway so I will just hold my tongue to see if that happens (and it usually does).

When I was an instructor, these classes wore me down both physically and emotionally. In one class, I had a student sitting in the front row that really made my job difficult. He tried to tell me how to teach the class and was pretty much a combination of all of the personalities I have listed. This student totally distracted me and when I reported him to the people in charge of the course, they wouldn’t do anything or say anything to the student because “that’s the way he is”. I never liked that excuse. Shortly afterwards, I stopped volunteering to be an instructor completely. I didn’t get anymore pay for doing it and I certainly didn’t need the added to my stress.

One thing that often annoys me is when students are late for the class and the instructor waits for them before starting. We are grown ups and should be responsible enough to be on time. One or two people shouldn’t make everyone else wait. Maybe that’s my military background but I don’t think you should enable bad behavior of a few to punish those who obey the rules.

I’m in another class this week and I see the same behaviors and personality types. People are funny. I’m sure I have my own eccentric ways. I guess I’m the quiet one who rarely asks questions which probably makes the instructor wonder if I’m getting it or if I’m spending the time daydreaming. Right now I’m looking at the lunch menu and thinking about my options.

In reality, I try to look at these other personalities from another view. There may some deep rooted insecurities or lack of confidence. Actually some people who feel inferior try to project an image as some defense mechanism. I suppose this is a reason for their behavior but I don’t think it should excuse their behavior – especially if they are being condescending to others. That’s never okay as far as I am concerned. We should respect everyone’s opportunity to learn without the silly dramatics.

No self-serving questions allowed.


5 Ways To Deal With Lack of Planner People


I can’t begin to tell you the many times I have been forced into emergency situations because of the lack of planning of others.  This sign is funny because it doesn’t matter how many times people are reminded of it that there are still repeat offenders.  It’s pretty irritating.

I can’t really divulge any specific details but let me say I am a planner and I really don’t like working with people who don’t.  It drives me crazy yet I am still expected to bail people out.  It’s just like the times I have taken classes when the instructor waits a few extra minutes for people who can’t get there on time.  Seriously?  Why punish the people who do what they are supposed to do and are on time?  When I teach a class I don’t do that.  If you are late, you are late.  I’m not going to make people suffer who are there on time.

So back to this emergency thing.  There have been many days I thought I had my day planned out when someone calls, emails or walks into my office with their urgency which suddenly becomes my emergency.

Once I debated with a supervisor that the only way to teach the repeat offenders a lesson would be to not bail them out and stop enabling them.  I was overruled on the that debate and reminded about “customer service”.  Okay, I get the customer service thing but I do not agree with enabling those who are repeat offenders.  Somehow these folks need to learn a lesson right?  If you always bail them out then they will know they can always repeat their behavior and no one will tell them no.

I’m saying “no” a lot more these days.  Not for the sake of being mean but to simply keep order and balance in the work life.

Yes, we can quote that cute saying all we want but that doesn’t stop it from happening.  Co-workers want what they want when they want it and you become the necessary means to their end.  Sad, but true.  Go ahead and see how far it gets you quoting that saying.  You could wear the sign around your neck and it still wouldn’t do any good.  They would ask if you can put the sign down and get something out in FEDEX today.

So how can we deal with these people?

  1. Set Boundaries.  When I say this, you have to make it a boundary for everyone.  Don’t make allowance for your co-worker buddies.  Treat everyone the same.  You must also endure the fire of when someone challenges your boundaries.
  2. Talk to your supervisor.  Yeah, this one might not give you much success either but you need to let your supervisor know where you stand.  It’s best to give them a heads up than to have them dealing with the fallout.
  3. Negotiate with the person who necessitates the emergency.    Instead of talking to the person (which never works in my experience) offer options for them.  They will take it a lot better than saying no.  “No, I can’t do that for you but I can show you how to do it.”
  4. Ignore them.  Don’t answer their email or phone calls especially if you have other projects you are working on.  You know what I have found?  They will usually figure it out.
  5. Don’t apologize.  If you are enforcing your boundaries, do not apologize or be made to feel guilty.

I’m not saying to be mean and not to do your job but when it is ridiculous or totally off base, you need to stand up for yourself.  Don’t be the person that will cave in and agree to work the weekend simply because someone else was a slacker or didn’t plan.  They will never learn until they have to face it.

To me, it is a sign of disrespect to create an emergency on my part because of someone else’s lack of planning.  Everyone has a job they are doing and we should respect that.  Yes, legitimate emergencies come up but something has to be done with the repeat offenders who are always putting us in that situation.

If people need something done and you can’t do it, they will usually figure it out.