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Making a Judgment Call

What happens if you take all the recommended steps for shutting down disruptive behavior but it still continues? At that point, you have a dilemma. The science of group dynamics has shown that when disruptive behavior is allowed to continue, the group sometimes will eventually shut down that behavior for themselves. Some of the things they will do in this regard include shunning the participant who is behaving disruptively, negative nonverbal behaviors (eye-rolling, for example), ignoring and not responding to the participant’s remarks, and carrying on side conversations when that participant is speaking. That is a more desirable scenario than you having to continue to deal with the behavior or having to shut it down yourself, but it doesn’t always happen this way.

Think About This

An interesting facet of group dynamics is that once disruptive behavior shuts down, the group refocuses on you rather than on the participant who was being disruptive. So, when you do something that acts on a personal agenda and preemptively shut down a participant in a disruptive way, the rest of the group will shut down as well out of fear that you might do the same thing to them. They, in effect, turn on you, and this will happen even if the group is happy that you have shut the person down. Shutting someone down in a negative way can be momentarily satisfying for both you and the learner group, but it’s not worth it in the long run—no matter how much the person seems to deserve it.



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