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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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Alone in a crowd


Have you ever stood in a crowded room & seen a room full of people happy to be with each other, but with no space for you? What did you think when you looked around, hearing laughter & the buzz of happy conversation? What did the little voice in your head say to you?

Were you thinking about all the things that could go wrong? Maybe you thought about the times when it did go wrong, convinced it would happen again? Or were you reminding yourselves of the good ideas other people had shared with you on how to get over your fear? 

How did you quell the fear & take the first step? Did it take a deep breath & a forced smile? Did you spot a familiar face? Or did someone reach out to you & welcome you into the group?

I was reminded of this watching my daughter start secondary school earlier this month. The courage it took to walk in with shoulders high & a smile on her face following a miserable last year at primary school marked by what became some quite vicious bullying.

As anybody who has experienced bullying for themselves, or seen the effects in someone they love, knows it destroys self-belief. They learn to see themselves as described by the bullies; worthless, ugly & a person to be vilified.

In the last few weeks, I have seen her blossom into life once more. She is with a new group of girls who see only a warm, funny, fabulous friend; a person with talents & someone worth knowing.

It has quite simply been a joy to behold. To see the difference it makes to how she views herself reflected in the happiness of her new friends to be with her. She knows now she is a success & not a failure; the change in her has been remarkable.

It made me think about my role & what we do every time we walk into a room to train, coach or give feedback. We are asking people to change; to behave differently or alter the way they think. How can we do this without eroding the self belief of the very people we seek to support?

In asking someone to change, we are asking them to accept that what they have done in the past will not work in the future. We need to communicate in a way that they clearly understand the change & they believe they can do it.  

That journey is not a simple one, the voices in our heads will be hard at work wanting to be heard; "why should I listen?", "but I've always done it my way", "I must be stupid for not having worked this out myself" etc. etc.

I have had the pleasure of watching many great trainers at work & they have an ability to make people not just listen, but to think, to desire, to envision & to plan. They hold up a mirror to the people in the room & say "I see some great talent, but I want you to see how you can get even better."

These trainers know that so much of what we think of ourselves & the situations we find ourselves in is based on what we see in the actions of others. They know the most important lesson of all, that the faith others place in us is almost always more than the faith we place in ourselves.

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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