A light-hearted summer article (please choose not to be offended by any of the content. We have all behaved like this at least once at some stage in our training and coaching careers!)
Falling on Deaf Ears – we trainers are in a trusted position sat in the training room in front of sometimes vulnerable delegates. Our job is to gradually encourage them to open up like delicate flowers and tell us their thoughts fears and doubts.
Is it then bizarre for a coach or trainer to have successfully qualified in the training process and become a content expert as well BUT to be a chronically poor listener.
Instead of an impressive demonstration of fully empathic active listening, trainer competes for the prize of being right. He itches to insert his next personal story or opinion into the conversation, or, to survey the world from an ivory tower of knowing all things (The Demi-God.)
Death by presentation – a short blog post does not have the space to list all the trainer crimes committed in the name of presentation abuse.
There is the Monotonous trainer – droning on like a background radiation counter taking the participant into a soporific hell where they silently beg for lunchtime or at least the temporary release offered by a fire alarm going off.
Last year I heard of a trainer who sat at his desk and read out the wordy contents of his power point slides all day long to an increasingly frazzled audience. Luckily there were no sharp objects readily to hand and fatalities were kept to a minimum.
There are the Whisperers (the Ghost Train-ers), the Mumblers, and the Read Out the Whole Book trainers. The latter will remind you of those strange tour guides in foreign towns that are witty elegant and erudite as they bring a script to life but when challenged to deviate from the path they seem confused, annoyed or resentful.
For some, their strict upbringing has convinced them that education can never be enjoyable and the mantra “no pain no gain” is a valid teaching principle.
Finally, some groups have experienced initial delight that turns to horror as the Perennial Storyteller dips into their battered brown leather briefcase to extract another no-longer-relevant and stereotype filled family story.
Who owns the material? – There is a famous trainer who puts out content as a medina merchant promotes their carpets and rugs – the more square metres you give the customer, the happier they will be. I remember, many years ago in Paris, assisting somebody who seriously proposed starting the training day at 7 in the morning and finishing at 7 at night! As the young and enthusiastic assistant, I took my place standing to attention at the side of the training room – Like a soldier on parade – What a bad strategy. As the day went on I was surprised that no one claimed their human rights and sent off a quick appeal to Strasbourg.
Related to this is the Training Fundamentalist for whom there is only one truth. This teacher thinks they are the proprietor of the only story. Any challenger is dealt blows of withering fundamentalist insistence.
Unconscious Unconscious Bias – The children of dentists may have bad teeth. The shoemaker’s children are badly shod and Baggage Carrying trainers employed to promote international respect leak their many biases and prejudices into the classroom. A little of this last example can be endearingly human but as this ironic phenomenon accumulates the delegates soon realise that the training is smashing against the very principals aimed for on the course.
As you blush and relate to a few of the archetypes above or fill in the names of the anti-heroes you have witnessed committing training and coaching crimes let me leave you with a positive reframe told to me by one of my first and more colourful bosses;
“You can learn just as much from a bad person as from a good one.”
Wise words. We wish you a continued happy summer 😉