How can you prevent horrible feedback, crazy conflict and difficult delegate behaviour?
We have all been there. It starts with a funny feeling in your stomach and then a look or comment from one of the alphas in the room. What is happening? you ask. Am I loosing the room? Lunch is tense and then, there comes an excuse why a few people don’t give in their paper feedback forms at the end of the day. You leave feeling that you put in plenty of effort but that, somewhere along the way, you and the room parted company and were travelling along different roads.
The next day you receive a troubled E Mail from your L&D contact within the company or the provider who supplied you with the subcontract day. And it is all bad news from then on in.
There follows a list of your “crimes” and how negative and upset the room were. Etc. etc. etc.
It does not have to end like this. Let us make the classroom safe for you again with 4 simple actions…
- Rules of Engagement
I always offer up an agreement at the beginning of a training day, coaching or even a speaking engagement. It shows professionalism and represents a light negotiation with the audience where they have a chance to shape the experience they expect and sign up to some rules emotionally. Ultimately, they will get more from you and your session.
My favourite one is, “Be Teachable”. It sounds simple and is profound. Do they think they know this stuff already? Will they have strong opinions about your content? Have they been brainwashed with stereotypes and are poised to attack?
By asking them to take a fresh look and let the material in, you are setting up a space that will allow for maximum exchange with minimum conflict. (Civilised challenge is allowed and even encouraged – Not disruptive conflict.)
And, when we add, “Respect Each Other”, you are sending a deep message about honour and civilised behaviour that will sink into the unconscious minds of the tricky participants and so protect yourself by raising THEIR self- awareness.
- Facilitate more than Tell
In these modern times, spraying theory at bored pupils will no longer be accepted. The room now want their share of the microphone and to tell their story.
Interrupt less, correct less and listen more.
Listen at a deeper level and add constructive input at the end. No more death by detail, 75 word slides and learning by rote. Now we are flipping the classroom with interactive exercises and intelligent debriefing. The less you say the more the class will enjoy your session.
- Less Essentialist and More Co – Constructed.
I still meet Interculturalists who can’t wait to put flags all over bi-polar dimensions, talk about China and India as if they were homogenous monocultures and peddle sophisticated stereotype as if it where going to help a remote team or diverse group dealing with the stresses and strains of an urgent and important project.
Let us take some responsibility upon ourselves to keep up with the modern world.
- Your Authentic Story
Your delegate’s exposure to Social Media and Netflix box sets has whetted their appetite for compelling narrative (and it better be as real as possible.)
Converting your personal experience into useful stories that carry a transferrable wisdom is a great way to engage your audience, build rapport with the group and get them on your side.
Dig to find a relevant story and share it at the right moment. Not too long and told from a humble or witty perspective. Keep the story light, though the meaning may be deeper.
So, with these 4 tools, we can avoid the alpha challenge that signals the end of learning for the day and the start of an awkward defence of your training style and content.
Go save a life – Yours.
Good luck with your next group session…
Matthew Hill is an Intercultural trainer, coach and author.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org