Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Handling unpleasant people

When I first started attending a local yoga class a month-and-a-half ago, I went once a week. I have been enjoying it so much that I decided to double my attendance rate to two classes per week. I also decided to purchase a concession card rather than just paying casual rates.

I went to my additional class yesterday morning. It is at the same place, with the same teacher (she is so good – a perfect mix of being gentle, firm, and fun, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the physical body and yoga). The only thing that is different are the people. I have gotten to know the faces of the folk in my Thursday class, but the Tuesday class are not the same faces. That’s fine, I don’t go to chat. There is a nice atmosphere but everyone is there to do their own yoga workout. Perfect.

Just as Stephanie is working on dealing with awful workmates, so I found myself yesterday morning at my new yoga class with some unpleasant and attention-seeking class attendees. Because there were only about eight of us at the most it was particularly noticeable. One of the women thought she had the right to disturb everyone else’s peace by saying such stupid things out loud as ‘this is excruciatingly painful’ and ‘oh it feels like my fingers might snap off’.

Sure most of the other people including me were probably thinking these things, but we didn’t feel self-important enough to decide that the others wanted to hear about it. She first drew attention to herself near the start of the class when she declared to the teacher ‘last time we did this pose you told me to do it differently as I couldn’t feel anything’ and then later on as the teacher walked around tweaking our poses ‘don’t stop doing that, it feels great’. It seems she treats the group class like a private lesson.

Now, unlike Stephanie, I don’t have to spend five days a week with this person (and her friends who giggled and laughed at her proclamations), but I pay a not-unreasonable amount to attend this class and enjoy the peace and quiet of a small group of people all with the same goal of bettering their physiques in a relaxing and gentle way.

I sincerely hope she doesn’t come to this class too often. And if she does then I suppose I’ll have to work on ignoring her. When I was walking back to work I saw her and her two friends heading into a cafe no doubt to call out inane observations loudly. At least the noise of the coffee machine would drown them out. No such luck in a quiet yoga class.

I thought to myself ‘that figures’ when I saw who one of the friends was. She was a late arrival to the class. We are asked to come five minutes early to get set up with our mats and props so we are relaxed and can start on time.

Last week I arrived dot on time (stressfully so, not a great start to the class) – I grabbed everything I needed and made as little disruption as possible. Not this one yesterday, she complained in a loud whisper (so we could all share) about her two children being sick, she was half-sick herself, and on and on. Meanwhile the whole class waited.

I remember a similar type (they’re scattered around carelessly everywhere unfortunately) who used to attend the same Weight Watchers meeting as me. She came along every week with a friend or two and would loudly claim she wasn’t losing weight and that Weight Watchers didn’t work, and asked how could you tell the size of a medium apple. When told it was as big as would reasonably fit in her hand, she snorted and said ‘I can fit a bloody big apple in my hand, so it must still be a medium-sized one’.

Yeah love, it’s a large apple that’s making you fat, not the giant bag of M&Ms you went on about eating last week. Do such people realise how tiresome they are? It’s a shame I have wasted mental energy on remembering this woman, and it must have been about twelve years ago if not more.

I have been wondering what Sabine, my ideal French girl would do in the yoga situation. I was quite shocked at the main loudmouth’s rudeness yesterday, and I admit I did give her a small ‘look’ at one stage. My plan will be to ignore her (these people love any kind of attention, good or bad) and focus on my own thoughts as well as the teacher’s voice.

Sometimes I find myself listening to a person’s cellphone conversation and just because you can hear it, your brain starts thinking about it. So tuning out her boorish honk is my goal.

That was always my mother’s advice about annoying people at school – ‘just ignore them and they’ll go away’. Here’s hoping.

Thank you for listening.


  1. we all have at least one difficult person in our lives. If you are lucky, it will be someone that "doesn't count" otherwise. Perhaps you could speak to the Yoga instructor about setting guidelines for comments in class. I hate it when people assume they are the only ones with problems and feel obliged to relate theirs to you. I usually clam up to discourage the talking. and...thank your lucky stars you don't have to live with those people. UGH!

  2. I hate going to a meeting or class with people like this in attendance. It's hard to concentrate on the task at hand. And in yoga, it should be quiet, relaxing, not stressful. I would suggest chatting with the instructor about guidelines, and explain the situation of it being hard to get into the right mindset with a negative person voicing every thought loudly.

  3. hi fiona,

    this is why i like to stay in my home with the gate locked. only sorta kidding here. rude, obnoxious people, cell phones and a total lack of manners makes even the simplest thing like attending a yoga class stressful. last week i went to lunch with a friend i had not seen in a very long time and she talked on the phone, texted and checked emails at least 4 times. and this was a friend.

    luckily i've done yoga for so many years i can do my own practice at home. but the customers at work are driving me to an early retirement!


    didn't mean to rant here.

  4. I agree with Dot, maybe you could ask the instructor to make a statement about speaking during class. If not, is there another class during the week you could go to for your 2nd class? I hate when things like this come up but tuning them out is a good idea. But still, it must be hard when you are trying to do yoga to tune them out. If the instructor knows she may lose you as a customer at that 2nd class just because of all the chatter, she may be inclined to say something to keep the business. Truth is, the instructor is probably just as annoyed with them as you are.

    It's funny what we remember about WW meetings! I recall vividly everyone who annoyed me at a meeting before. I wonder why?

  5. Dot, I know I'm lucky I only have to tolerate these people one hour a week.

    Dot and Kalee, I have considered talking to our teacher but will leave it a few weeks and see how it goes. Don't want to rush in like a bull at a gate (not very zen).

    Janet, it's a ranty kind of post. I'm with you - on my days off work I don't leave the property if I can help it. I need a break from 'people'. And don't get me started on customers. Most are dolls, unfortunately it's the difficult ones that you remember. I am both a much better, and a much worse customer from being a shopkeeper.

    My dad closes his gates even when he's home as he notices it cuts down on visitors.

  6. Stephanie, it's true what you say - she wouldn't want to lose an extra customer/class. She's quite a firm instructor in a non-aggressive way and I look forward to seeing how she handles them. This class is the best for me time-wise so I'll persevere. Hopefully they get bored with yoga and drift off. They strike me as the types who only go so they can drop into coonversation that they 'do yoga'. If you're mouthing off during class you're not concentrating on your own poses.

  7. Fiona, it seems to be the way of the world now. In nearly every place, there seems to be a vexing person. I work with three and it is indeed, difficult. Your instructor is responsible for setting the tone of the class and I hope she will. I begin a new yoga class next week and certainly hope it is peaceful. If not, I will move on even if I have to have my kindred spirits come to my house and hire a teacher collectively!


  8. Fiona,

    First let me just say that that woman sounds like a self-centered, rude, insensitive ninny!
    I used to be an exercise instructor. Thankfully, I never had a disruptive person, but if I had, I would say something to the class as a whole about being late, talking out loud, etc.
    I agree with Dot and Stephanie and think it would be a good idea to speak to the instructor. I think it is her responsibility to control her class and deal with a difficult student, not yours - you are a paying client. And you are paying to decompress not add stress!


  9. Hi Fiona,

    Some people do just get to you!! They have that way about them and you just try to ignore them! It is a shame when it affects a group.
    So glad to find you!

    A New Giveaway is on my site!

    Art by Karena

  10. Emily, you have used one of my favourite words - vexing. I try to avoid those who are 'vexations to the spirit' a la the Desiderata.

    Your advice on Stephanie's post I linked to was very inspired. Merci.

    Adrienne, thank you for your thoughts from the front of the class. I will definitely be monitoring the situation. Imagine the joy if it was a one-off.

    Karena, thank you for your comment and welcome.

  11. It's a shame that you run into such a difficult situation in your second class. Unfortunately, people like that are scattered throughout our lives. Perhaps this one is the one where you will learn how to handle the rest.

    The community recreation catalogue will be coming out here in a week or so and I'm looking forward to checking out if there will be any yoga classes starting in September.

  12. Exactly, Jackie. I'm looking on it as an opportunity in how to learn.

    Good idea about checking out your community recreation catalogue.

  13. I have been an exercise instructor for about 28 years. I am sure your instructor is as awesome as you say she is. I believe she should, gently and professionally, let those loudmouths know to please pipe down. I will get those types in my class and sometimes I will stop instructing and look at the offensive parties until they get it! The class finds it humorous, and I keep it light, but everyone knows I don't take kindly to the rudeness being delivered at everyone's expense. Hmm...I think I need to blog about this very thing today! Here I go...

  14. I've just read your post Debra and love it. Perhaps I could take copies along to the offending yoga class next week... Merci!

  15. You are you funny. I had a similar experience with a B-R-A-T a long time ago at my sons Parent-n-tot French class.
    One rotten apple... (the size of your hand:)

    AND I just had another of many stand offs with a Census man... soon to be blogged about.

    Sometimes I think people like this need a gently correction, something tactful, but stinging... like a French women would say... a tasteful jab that says, look, we all hear you, why do you require such attention...

    Sadly, most of the time people like that are really hurting, they have never been truly heard or acknowlegded in their entire life... sigh.

    Thank you for such kind words about my Juliette.

    PS, Girl, you are so dang cute! That profile photo is PARFAIT!

  16. Angela, I so wish I had the French woman's thing of telling someone off and they don't realise it (isn't that a Southern woman's thing too?).

    I've thought that too of these types of people - no one paid any attention to them when they were younger perhaps. Or maybe they were born a pain in the a.

    Thank you for your compliment. Especially coming from you and your beautiful family.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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