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How To Develop Your Personal Authority Dear EQ Expert: In general, I like to think of myself as someone with high emotional intelligence, but lately I have had the same type of problem that has left me feeling emotionally stupid. I am a college instructor. I try to show my students respect my listening to them, honoring their experiences and opinions, and preparing for class and staying on topic. In general, I have found that students respond to this positively. Lately, however, I have had some problems with young adults of the opposite sex who are, in my perception, very rude. They think it is their right to treat me like a television while I conduct a class: reading a paper when they feel bored, putting their feet up on the chair in front of them, eating full meals, coming 15 or 20 minutes tardy, returning from the break late, yawning loudly, and talking among themselves are all behaviors I have had to deal with. In one instance, a young man cursed at me when I asked him and his friend to leave the room and come back when they were finished with their conversation (this was after several polite requests by me that they stop talking). In general, I don like to confront students about their rudeness, but when I don say or do anything, the other students then lose respect for me and are demoralized. Do you have any advice about how one can deal with a subordinate rudeness? I am hurt and offended by these people behavior. Nothing I am going to say here excuses the students who are rude (and your perceptions are correct) but that a topic for another time. That having been said, I proceed. The teacher is a leader, not a manager, and situations like this become extremely difficult to manage if they aren nipped in the bud. When I read your email I thought, are allowed to eat full meals in college classes these days? I pictured a bag of KFC with a handywipe. What next, a Miller Light, a Marlboro red, intercourse? You see, ARE the rules today? is what no one knows. And young males are always ready to test the limits. It their nature. They should be feeling bad, not you. Don take that monkey on your back. 1) Don waste time trying to earn your leadership position. Impose it. Don be tentative. 2) Don be afraid to confront. Be absolutely clear with them and confront the problem head on. Bill Parcells (football coach) frequently tells players, in your best interest that you succeed, and it in my best interest that you succeed. We really want the same thing. Then tell them how they can succeed in your class (and by extension in college, and by extension in life.) You be doing them a favor. 3) Make up a list of the Rules of Conduct for your class that is direct and specific. Print it up and pass it out on the first day. 4) Claim your Personal Power, an EQ competency. Among the infinite Mercies that God hath pleased to bestow upon us, that most Signal and Remarkable is, his having given us Power and Strength not to yield to the dreadful Troubles, Confusions and Disorders MANIFESTO OF THE EMPRESS CATHERINE II, OF RUSSIA Catherine the second, Empress and Autocrat of all the Russians at Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, Czarina of Kasan, Czarina of Astrachan, Czarina of Siberia, Lady of Pleskow and Grand Duchess of Smolensko, Duchess of Esthonia and Livland, Carelial, Twer, Yugoria, Permia, Viatka and Bulgaria and others; Lady and Grand Duchess of Novgorod in the Netherland of Chernigov, Resan, Rostov, Yaroslav, Beloosrial, Udoria, Obdoria, Condinia, and Ruler of the entire North region and Lady of the Yurish, of the Cartalinian and Grusinian czars and the Cabardinian land, of the Cherkessian and Gorsian princes and the lady of the manor and sovereign of many others. (That the first sentence!!! She has said nothing, but oh how we are listening. Got it?) OK, REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: My client Edward Psych 101 professor at Baylor, a Southern Baptist Institution in Wacko, excuse me, Waco. He announced on the first day that he would be teaching and if you put on a test something from the Bible contradicting evolution, you would flunk. He asked if everyone understood what he had just said. He suggested that anyone who could not abandon their in evolution leave immediately or be prepared to flunk the class. Now this relieved a lot of people who were wondering how to behave and what to think. (Do not email me about this, this is an example.) Edward asked me if I thought that was Wrong question. Professor Edmondson determines what in that class, and that a life lesson Edward needs to learn. 7) Do NOT be subtle. Do NOT say oblique things like conduct. The people with manners already know that; the people without manners will never know that, at least in the lifetime of your course; and for those who like to go for the jugular, you will have extended the jugular. 8) Do NOT labor under the false conception that everyone will respond to being treated with respect by treating you with respect. 9) You owe no explanation, you owe no apology. 10) Everyone will relax once you make it clear what you will and will not tolerate. Nobody knows these days what to expect, and it become a bit of a free for all. You, however, are there to teach, and they are there to learn, and if there some problem there, they are always free to leave, are they not? You hope they will remain, but to do so they must abide by your rules. They have a choice: you like to leave so we can all learn, or would you like to stop talking? Address only the specific behavior. Words like and have no meaning. (Think of training a dog. Action, consequence, not a lot of words.) (In certain instances you may wish to address the person in private before or after class your judgment call.) 11) Giving warnings? Dr. Drake in my high school Latin class hummed along for a week and then someone spoke out of turn. Abruptly and without warning, he ejected the boy. That quite effective. 12) Don confuse nice with EQ. You being to them by teaching them well, with respect. This isn a committee meeting, they aren your colleagues, this isn a social event and it isn group therapy. You are there to teach, and they are there to learn. 13) The test will be the first infraction of one of your rules (or one they invent, oh my), so be prepared. Label the behavior, repeat the rule, then ask them to leave in a firm but emotionally neutral state. 14) Don let them baffle you with BS. I thinking of one of my sons who said to me, you never told me I couldn knock the chandelier down with a broomstick. You in a bigtime field, so why not get some EQ training? Hire a coach for a month or two and save yourself some trial and error learning.