A while ago I was giving an open workshop on the Predator, Prey, Partner model in a community that is known for its desire to be open and receptive to people from all walks of life.

This is what initially attracted me to offer the workshop.

With this community philosophy in mind, it means you’re going to come across some rather colourful individuals from time to time. Needless to say, that’s exactly what happened during my workshop.

I was about 3/4 of the way through the workshop when in walked one of the most outlandish people I have ever laid eyes on. And I worked 4 years in a psychiatric hospital in Chicago so I know a bit about eccentric people! The person was gender fluid, dressed kind of like a pirate / captain / commander with some very wild make-up and behaving in a very dramatic “I own the world” kind of way… I had seen this person in town the day before so when they walked in, I knew I was in for a new experience.

I was in the process of running an exercise with everyone in pairs around the room when my pirate friend took a seat, front and center. When the exercise was finished, I asked everyone to have a seat. I then asked for a volunteer who I could coach. Of course, you know who raised their hand first! With tremendous relief in my voice I said, “unfortunately you weren’t here for the first part of the workshop so it won’t be possible to coach you”.

Finally, a very brave Italian woman, who’s English was rather limited, volunteered. As I was coaching this woman, my “wildcard” also began to coach her non-verbally, using exaggerated gestures. Because I had my back to the audience I couldn’t see what was going on. Needless to say, this was making my Italian woman very frustrated and before I knew it, she screamed at this person, “STOP IT!!”. I immediately turned around and in a calm, friendly voice said, “my friend I’m going to have to ask you to stop that and observe quietly”.

This person behaved for about 20 seconds then started up again. Again I stopped, turned, and in a calm, direct way with a warm smile, said “there’s only one coach here today and that’s me. You’re welcome to stay and observe quietly otherwise I’ll have to ask you to leave. It’s up to you”. At which point my pirate friend left in a very loud, angry and dramatic manner.

At this point, I just wanted to whole workshop to be finished and exit as quickly as possible. As I wrapped up the workshop, no-one got out of their seats. So we chatted for a few minutes and suddenly there was this explosion of relief from several people. They started saying, “Oh that person is so difficult”, “No-one knows how to deal with them”, “How did you do that?”, “You got them out of here so easily!”.

So we discussed it and I explained that although I was extremely stressed about this person’s presence, I was maintaining myself externally to appear calm, cool and collected. When they started to misbehave, I addressed it immediately in a Partner-like way. I stayed connected by maintaining eye contact, using a warm smile, and speaking slowly while making requests and finally setting limits on the behavior.  

So if you have wildcards in your life, using this approach may get you better results!

Good luck and happy Partnering!