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How do I deal with very sarcastic, critical adult student?


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Old 27th January 2010, 10:16 PM   #1
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How do I deal with very sarcastic, critical adult student?

I'm 25 years old (female) and I go to night school for teacher certification. I am pretty much the youngest person in all of my classes, but for the most part, I have clicked with a certain group of females.

I get along well with all of them, but there is one 31 year old female in the group who watches my every move, tries to constantly challenge me, and is constantly sarcastic when she speaks to me. Although she is dry and sarcastic with everyone, she likes to target me, and seems like she wants to prove something over me or dominate me.

For instance, today we had a meeting for the future teachers. My group saved a seat for me. When I sat down, she said "it's because we all enjoy your company," very, very sarcastically. At this point, another girl in the group said, "Jen, remember you are trying to be a nice person." She argued back with her and said she was being nice, but anyone at my age can tell another's true feelings from their inflections and whatnot. She was being sarcastic.

In addition, I have caught her laughing at me and criticizing me during group discussions in class (I am quite outspoken, but not in a mean way...just high participation), and she is the ONLY person in the class who tries to make a point of countering my thoughts and answers, in front of the class. She really seems to like to confront me, "one-up" me, analyze me, and try to perhaps prove that I'm not the good person I project myself as.

I want to keep hanging out with this group of girls, because I like the rest of them, but I don't want other people to know her real feelings toward me without me knowing them, and I don't want the other group members to pity me for being picked on, either. I want to stand up for myself and be respected as equal to all of them.

Why is she doing this, and how can I peacefully assert myself?
(having a heart to heart private discussion is uncalled for, as we are more classmates than anything--we have only "hung out" as a group one time outside of classes)
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Old 27th January 2010, 10:24 PM   #2
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I think a private discussion might be exactly what is required here. Take her aside and explain politely that whether she intends to or not, her behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable and victimised, and you would appreciate it if she could try to be more considerate in future and think before she speaks. Say that you hope she understands how you feel and is willing to cooperate in order to maintain harmony in the classroom, because you would hate to have to take the issue any further and you would rather just resolve it between yourselves. It might be helpful if you could get a third party to accompany you as a witness, not to say anything but just to corroborate that you asked this woman politely to alter her antisocial behaviour.

If she persists despite your discussion with her, speak to your teacher. Take your witness who will state that you asked this woman nicely and she is still behaving badly. Ask your teacher to take note of her behaviour and to speak to her about what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. If she is approached by the teacher then she's almost bound to alter her ways, and if not then her refusal to comply with the teacher's request would enable further actions to be taken. But she will be scared sh**less before that point and will behave herself, I guarantee it.
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Old 28th January 2010, 3:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarmenSandiego View Post
I'm 25 years old (female) and I go to night school for teacher certification. I am pretty much the youngest person in all of my classes, but for the most part, I have clicked with a certain group of females.

I get along well with all of them, but there is one 31 year old female in the group who watches my every move, tries to constantly challenge me, and is constantly sarcastic when she speaks to me. Although she is dry and sarcastic with everyone, she likes to target me, and seems like she wants to prove something over me or dominate me.

For instance, today we had a meeting for the future teachers. My group saved a seat for me. When I sat down, she said "it's because we all enjoy your company," very, very sarcastically. At this point, another girl in the group said, "Jen, remember you are trying to be a nice person." She argued back with her and said she was being nice, but anyone at my age can tell another's true feelings from their inflections and whatnot. She was being sarcastic.

In addition, I have caught her laughing at me and criticizing me during group discussions in class (I am quite outspoken, but not in a mean way...just high participation), and she is the ONLY person in the class who tries to make a point of countering my thoughts and answers, in front of the class. She really seems to like to confront me, "one-up" me, analyze me, and try to perhaps prove that I'm not the good person I project myself as.

I want to keep hanging out with this group of girls, because I like the rest of them, but I don't want other people to know her real feelings toward me without me knowing them, and I don't want the other group members to pity me for being picked on, either. I want to stand up for myself and be respected as equal to all of them.

Why is she doing this, and how can I peacefully assert myself?
(having a heart to heart private discussion is uncalled for, as we are more classmates than anything--we have only "hung out" as a group one time outside of classes)
My opinion? Don't discuss anything with her. If you do that, then she gets what she wants, which is attention. It shouldn't matter what this person thinks of you. Let her be bitter and just try to summon your inner confidence. If you let it bother you, it will. Seriously, what are the consequences of her being a smart ass?

Keep this in mind: people who exhibit this kind of negative behavior usually do so because they feel negative - about themselves. They believe it's the only way that they can "win", is to find someone they consider to be weak and to bully them. If you just ignore it, you win. It's hard to ignore people like that, but just do it. Trust me. Ignore it. Be above it. Take the high road. At worst, she gets frustrated that you don't respond and tries to egg you on to the point where everyone sees what a doofus she is; on the other hand, she might just decide you're a waste of time and mess with someone else. I know it's hard, but just shrug, smile, and turn the other cheek. If you get mad or fight back, that's when you lose.
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Old 28th January 2010, 9:19 AM   #4
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My understanding is that this is something that is happening DURING class, right?

If that's true, my next question is, what is your relationship like with your professor and your advisor?

Because of the nature of teaching certification courses (making the assumption that yours is the same as all of the university's that I'm familiar with) - lots of participation is required, lots of public speech is required, lots of presentations of ideas and lesson plans, and so on - it is very important to establish and maintain a high comfort level and a positive learning environment for all students. Your advisor and the professor of this class should be concerned with this other girl's behavior.

Go to one or both of them, and ask them for advice and help.
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Old 28th January 2010, 10:53 AM   #5
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You can count on dealing with people just like her throughout your future career. So, you definitely want to use this as a learning experience as to how to deal with her or cope with her.

You are NOT being too sensitive, so forget that. You are professional and polite, she is not. As to why you are the target, who knows? You would have to know a lot more about her to know that.

DO bring it up to someone in authority, preferably the people who she is in front of the most. You may not even need to mention her by name, since this type is usually more obvious than you think. However, if you think they will not know who you mean (even if the name remains unsaid) then tell them. Here is one way you might approach this:

"I am having a problem that I would like some advice solving in the event I should run across it again in a more professional aspect. There is a colleague (fellow student, peer, whatever) that has made me the target of some passive aggressive behavior to the point that I sense a hostility in the environment. " Its a fair, good , intelligent, and worthy question. And will get you some good advice from pros in your field.

All keywords, all red flags in a professional and a teaching atmosphere.
They will begin to watch her and this information will shadow their opinions of her.

So, thats done. Meanwhile, how to create a more pleasant experience for yourself. Ignoring a bully is hard, and when they are so direct - almost impossible. You are both adults. No need to question her because both you and she know there has been no misunderstanding. These passive aggressive people are all about: No...it was a joke! etc. Uh Uh. " I have to tell you that I sense a lot of hostility from you that I know it is unwarranted and from a professional aspect...you might want to get a grip on it." THEN, just ignore her, take the high road. She will get smaller and smaller.
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Old 28th January 2010, 4:08 PM   #6
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Im all for calling people out on their behavior...next time she says something rude or sarcastic call her on it. Say "what exactly do you mean by that?" " you claim you are being nice but your actions and tone say something different is there an issue"..she may back off or try to act like you are being too sensitive but at least let her know everytime she says something sarcastic you WILL call her on it.

Dont let her get to you shes probably threatened by you in someway. Talking to her in private might work but that usually ends up with her denying everything hence why i think calling her out in public is better. Others probably notice her rude beahvior as well.
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Old 28th January 2010, 4:44 PM   #7
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OP, no matter how you choose to handle this situation, please just keep in mind that (even though this isn't a job) it is still considered a professional setting. Letters of recommendation and so on, in part, depend on things like this, not to mention you actually being recommended by your school to become licensed by the state.
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Old 28th January 2010, 4:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarmenSandiego View Post
I'm 25 years old (female) and I go to night school for teacher certification. I am pretty much the youngest person in all of my classes, but for the most part, I have clicked with a certain group of females.

I get along well with all of them, but there is one 31 year old female in the group who watches my every move, tries to constantly challenge me, and is constantly sarcastic when she speaks to me. Although she is dry and sarcastic with everyone, she likes to target me, and seems like she wants to prove something over me or dominate me.

For instance, today we had a meeting for the future teachers. My group saved a seat for me. When I sat down, she said "it's because we all enjoy your company," very, very sarcastically. At this point, another girl in the group said, "Jen, remember you are trying to be a nice person." She argued back with her and said she was being nice, but anyone at my age can tell another's true feelings from their inflections and whatnot. She was being sarcastic.

In addition, I have caught her laughing at me and criticizing me during group discussions in class (I am quite outspoken, but not in a mean way...just high participation), and she is the ONLY person in the class who tries to make a point of countering my thoughts and answers, in front of the class. She really seems to like to confront me, "one-up" me, analyze me, and try to perhaps prove that I'm not the good person I project myself as.

I want to keep hanging out with this group of girls, because I like the rest of them, but I don't want other people to know her real feelings toward me without me knowing them, and I don't want the other group members to pity me for being picked on, either. I want to stand up for myself and be respected as equal to all of them.

Why is she doing this, and how can I peacefully assert myself?
(having a heart to heart private discussion is uncalled for, as we are more classmates than anything--we have only "hung out" as a group one time outside of classes)
Above all, keep your cool. No one can make you feel anything, if you don't allow them to get to you.

If she makes a valid counterpoint, then debate but with logic, rather than in defense. You can also point out her illogical statements and counterpoints. If the remarks are snide but in a passive-aggressive way, just ignore them since responding to this is a waste of time and energy.

Worry less about what others think of you and more about how you can progress in class and continue to be an active part of the group discussion.

And, when the opportunity is right, which will present itself to you for certain, since she's targeted you so will keep putting herself out there, you can bury her six feet under with a good rebuttal!
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Old 28th January 2010, 5:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by threebyfate View Post

Worry less about what others think of you and more about how you can progress in class and continue to be an active part of the group discussion.
This is a great mind-set to keep! Focus on how you can contribute.
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