How to Survive Negative Trainees

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					How to Survive Negative Trainees
I have just finished having coffee with a trainer friend of mine, who
told me that 'that's it' she is never training again after the day she
has had. Two hours sipping coffee listening to her ranting venom about
'how rude they were, they did not participate, they whispered under their
breath, how they belittled all her content and were consistently making
snide comments behind her back.'
Baffled why nearly all her trainees were displaying negative behaviours,
I asked if she had spent time before the event assisting them into a
positive state for learning. She replied she had been 'given' the
trainees when the trainer planned to deliver the event had called in
sick. Okay, not the greatest situation or start yet it is manageable.Â
Many trainers, presenters and facilitators fear what happened to my
friend today. It doesn't matter if you have trained for years. When
faced with 'negative' behaviour from one of the many personalities in the
room you can be caught off guard, put on high alert and if you are not
used to coping or managing that type of behaviour the learning event can
be destroyed.Â
Assuming that you have done everything in your power to set up your
learning event where your trainees feel safe, valued, respected and
included. And the behaviour still happens, the following tips may be of
use to you...Â
Tip 1:Â The Sabotager
I have witnessed many trainers trying in a day become the best friend of
the rudest trainee. This only alienates the rest of the room. There
will be a reason why they are displaying this behaviour the best you can
do is use it to your advantage. Acknowledge to them (in a break if more
appropriate) that you appreciate their input, their side of the story,
their experience and give them some responsibility.Â
Tip 2: The Sigher
Are they bored? Never assume that your content is challenging all the
brains in the room. When did you last move your trainees? Have you had
them sitting for 2 hours in the same spot? Change the delivery mode of
the next activity to make it more challenging. Give the Sigher
responsibility and watch how they come back to the whole event. If they
are still sighing and others are joining in, it may be the content is too
Tip 3:Â The Whisperers
Think back to school for a minute. Were you a model pupil who listened
to the teacher for the full 6 hours each day? Did you become easily
distracted by your buddy or next-door neighbour? Whisperers don't want
you to hear what they are saying that's why they are whispering! Too ask
'do you want to share' is never a good idea. You need to use your
initiative and experience here...many courses I run, people come with
friend's and they communicate over communication. Have you planned
enough discussion activities? Imagine staying quiet for an hour! If
whispers are happening all over the room an activity could be as quick as
'right for the next 10 minutes you have to go over with the person next
to what we have learnt so far'. Will they only chat about the training?Â
Probably not, but you need to learn to let go here. They will be more
focussed for the next part of the content.
Tip 4: What Are Your Standards?
As a trainer you enter the room with your own set of values, standards
and beliefs about the world. Just as your trainees do. If you have not
already done so, spend time working in you. Figure out and explore what
behaviours you find negative in others, how do you know, how do they make
you feel? Plan ahead if they were to occur in the training room
research now how you can manage yourself, them and the other trainees.Â
Your responsibility as a trainer is never to become emotionally involved
in the negativity. It is obvious when a trainer has just got fed up and
started winding up. This is trainer suicide not only will you alienate
the person but possibly the rest of the room.Â
Tip 5:Â The Content Criminals
There is obviously a lot of factors here to consider. It is so noticeable
to a trainee when the trainer knows their content inside out. They are
so tuned in they can adapt on the spot, throw in stories, examples,
metaphors, ideas they constantly enrich the content. Compared that to a
trainer who delivers solely the content as it is written in the off the
shelf manuals offering no added value to the trainees. The second
trainer above may have more content criminals. There may be people in
the room who know more about your subject than you you and that's okay.Â
Acknowledge their worth and be accepting of the value they are bringing.Â
If you have a trainee however who is preventing the content being taught
to others, you could have a word and ask them to be your eyes and ears,
give them responsibility for discovering where others need to catch up.
There are obviously negative behaviours that are never acceptable: those
which exclude parts of society, individuals or groups. As the trainer
your role is to ensure all trainees are accepted and included. This
calls for dealing with immediately the behaviour or action displayed.Â
Make sure you add equality to your expectations of the event.
Dawn Barclay has still to work out what she exactly does for a living. A
Trainer by trade she runs her own company that is passionate about
training, learning and learners. Her clients are individuals, small
business owners, career changers and trainers. She offers various
programmes and products including her Training Minds newsletter: a
resource newsletter for trainers who struggle to find the time to build
their own training toolkit.

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