Posts Tagged ‘training environment’

Who’s ready to learn?

May 21, 2010

I was faced with a tricky question recently, from someone looking for a trainer for their staff : “how do you deal with difficult participants?”

Obviously, I had to clarify what he meant by  ‘difficult participants’ – the fact that this was one of his first questions didn’t bode well as far as I was concerned.

“They’re used to certain standards of excellence” he said “and if they don’t get that, then they won’t take the training seriously”.

Let’s be fair: he has a point. If training …and indeed the trainer…is ill-matched to the organisation, then the whole learning experience will be undermined.

However, I’d suggest strongly that ‘difficult’ or ‘hostile’ participants aren’t participants at all: they’re prisoners in the training room. If they’re looking for reasons NOT to learn whilst they’re on the course…then they’re obviously not ready or open to learn in the first place.

In order to be ready to learn, a person needs to:

 …accept that nobody knows it all (Yara included!) and we all continue to learn throughout our lives. Sometimes it takes a degree of humility to admit that you need to learn something new or develop your skills.

…accept that learning can come from unexpected sources, and from experience as well as theory and logic. My children frequently come up with brilliantly observed points that cause me to stop and think, as do certain song lyrics, movie scenes and so on.

….suspend judgement. ” Ah, you would say that because you’re a   creative / IT  / finance / whatever.”

….listen. Yeah, that’s LISTENING and not just waiting for your turn to speak : )

….accept that different people have different  knowledge sets ( Howard Gardner’s ‘multiple intelligences’) and ALL are valuable. Mathematical knowledge is not superior to linguistic knowledge. Spatial intelligence is as valuable as interpersonal intelligence.

…be prepared to DO something with what they learn, otherwise there’s no point. As the Chinese philosophers put it ‘he who knows but does not do…does not know.’

At the end of the day, learning is a choice. I’ve delivered courses where one participant has sat stony faced from the outset, determined to take nothing from the course, and trying to undermine the learning experience of other participants…and at the same course someone else will walk out saying that they’ve had a ‘lightbulb moment’ and have learnt something that, once implemented, is going to make a major difference to them.

As with so many things, a lot of it comes down to attitude…and whether or not a person is really in the right frame of mind to learn.