Q is for Querulous


As fiction writers we are often reminded to ‘show not tell’, appeal to the senses and use basic vocabulary so the reader isn’t distracted from the story by words they don’t understand. However, sometimes the use of ‘out of the ordinary’ words can be beneficial.

During my teaching years, I used to despise the whining and grumbling of teenagers who entered my classroom. Have you noticed if you ask someone to stop whining they do it even more? It happens in the adult world too. Tell someone they are being argumentative and it escalates. Well, after trial and error, you know the normal stuff like ignoring, imitating, getting angry, I found the perfect solution. Use more complex vocabulary.

Problem: The whining teenager enters the classroom, hurls his rucksack across the floor and slumps into the chair, continuing to whine that poetry sucks.

Solution: The teacher looks at the teenager with a sympathetic smile and says, “It’s not like you to be querulous.”

Response: The student looks flummoxed and says, “What’s querulous mean?”

Result: The student has stopped whining, is focused on the new word that the teacher writes on the board and learning begins with some element of peace.

Obviously, if you are head to head with someone who you know to be a walking dictionary, this tactic may backfire. In this case, I would suggest deep breaths, a quick exit and head to the nearest bar.

How do you handle someone who is being querulous?

Comments

  1. smack 'em with a tree limb.

    (maybe good I'm not a teacher.)

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    1. :) When my older brother was at school, the cane still existed and his backside saw it many times.

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  2. Your diversionary tactics with grumpy students are admirable! I don't think I have thought up a cogent strategy for dealing with whiny people, I think I probably end up 'out-querulousing' them or head out to the nearest bar, probably both :)

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    1. :) Thanks for popping by Nilanjana.

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  3. I generally ignore them. Or often cookies. Cookies fix a lot of problems in the world.

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  4. Ah yes. The old sneaky vocabulary lesson to flummox the teen. Excellent ploy.

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  5. The ghost of Mark Twain suggests a bullet between the eyes! But that seems rather extreme. I go with Joylene: cookies or other form of kindness works best -- and doesn't involve jail time!

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    1. :) Thanks for popping by, Roland.

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  6. I don't think it would backfire, but def redirect the conversation. For those who are not walking dictionaries, at the very least maybe they would learn to use the dictionary apps on their smart devices.

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    1. :) Thanks for coming over, Lissa. Lovely to 'meet' you.

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  7. I think that's a marvelous idea! Much better than my rude offer of some cheese for their wine.

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    1. :) You always make my laugh, Elizabeth :) I'll try that one next time my hubby's having a moan :)

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  8. If it's my teenage son I tell him to go into his room because he's bringing me down. Or, I tell him a joke!
    Fran
    @FranClarkAuthor
    Writing Women’s Fiction

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    1. I've also held up the hand with a 'whatever'. :)

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  9. LOL. I just saw something a few days ago that said saying 'Calm down' has never calmed anyone down in the history of the world. I like your approach to whining.

    Susan Says

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  10. A great approach to dealing with anyone who has started grumping - whether they are teenagers or not :)
    I was never a teacher but I've dealt with my fair share of adults who liked to complain.

    I got a big smile reading your About Me page. The Harts were favourites of mine too and more than a few times I was convinced I was in the wrong family ;)

    mylifelivedfull.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks Joanne. Lovely of you to stop by.

      ps: I've got the box sets. I never tire of J & J :)

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  11. I'd probably just ask if something was wrong. But I don't have many interactions with teens, so who knows if that's the right thing to say.

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    1. After teaching for a few years, you can generally tell if something serious is wrong or they are just having a grumble. I was always respectful of their feelings. Such a sensitive age group. Talking about it makes me miss teaching them.

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  12. I love a good vocabulary. When Willy Dunne Wooters is querulous, I take him to bed. We spend a lot of time in bed to shut him up.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. :) Thanks for popping by, Janie.

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  13. Or you can be that authoritative teacher who no one dares chat in their class. I had a few and loved most of them. Partly because I was not a chatterbox myself. Also my mother's a teacher and she would send that student to stand outside. She don't take no mess. :)

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    1. I was lucky. I never had to send a student out of the class.

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  14. That's a great method, and I bet it was effective. I'll have to try it.
    @DoreeWeller from
    Doree Weller’s Blog

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    1. It's about making a quick assessment of the problem and acting accordingly.

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  15. You remind me of a favorite teacher I had in college although she had very few students complain in her class. She acted more like a fellow person with the same complaints as anyone else rather than someone who had authority over us. Thanks for investing your time in building generations ^^

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    1. I think the key to teaching is mutual respect. I liked teaching teenagers because I could relate them. I also enjoyed teaching the young children too. They are so innocent.

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  16. You were obviously a great teacher to engage your students like that. I'll remember that tip :-) xx

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  17. Thank you! Love this idea! Now if only it would work with my Sweetie, who has a master's degree.

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  18. You used Rucksack! I use that all the time and most people don't know what I'm talking about. I have literally stood there, listened to that person and then started to whine like a baby, then look at them like they are an idiot and walked away. My husband hates that when I do that to him.

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  19. unfortunately i have often mishandled querulous people, think need to follow the tip

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