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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

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Candour: To Be or Not To Be?


I am going to open this blog with a statement I never thought I would say, let alone go public with……

“I love having teenagers in the house!”

“What?” “Have you taken leave of your senses?” “You are surely winding us up?” “I always suspected you were a little weird” or lots of words to that effect might be coming into your mind right now.

But it is true, almost 3 years after my eldest entered her teenage years and one year after DD2 joined her (I still have a 2 year gap before DS1 joins them), I am pleased to say that whilst they have their moments (can’t we all) there is much joy & laughter to having teenagers around; plus plenty to learn from them.

“Why is this?” I hear you ask & “What on earth has this got to do with the wonderful world of L&D?"

Let me explain…

I was having a discussion last week about how honest we need to be with our learners in the training room. If for instance you are running a Presentation Skills workshop & someone has just done an awful practice presentation, do you gently share some tips to improve or do you just focus on what went well?

My friend mentioned about “catching more bees with honey rather than vinegar” to which I responded “but surely they are there to learn & we should be honest with them?” The answer he gave was interesting “but they will probably know what they did wrong anyway, so focus on what went well.”

I was pondering over these words a few hours later when also asked to give advice to my daughter over the age old problem: "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me….."

Whatever our age, it is a situation we can personally relate to. We’ve all been there; we’ve got someone in our life, we like them more than is good for our sanity, but we just don’t know whether that feeling is reciprocated.

We toss, we turn, we wonder, we wake up at 4am & sometimes we find ourselves sitting with a silly grin on our face remembering the last time we saw/spoke with the object of our affections.

In other words, our world has been turned upside down (in the nicest possible way) but we are caught up in the agonies of wondering if the feelings are returned?

Yet to those of us watching on the outside, it is often very clear in a way that it isn’t when it is us caught up in the moment. We can see if he/she does indeed like them too. It becomes very easy to say whether the person should be more open with the object of their affection about their feelings, or whether copious tubs of ice-cream may be needed to work through unrequited feelings….

“So what has this go to do with being a L&D person?” I hear you cry once more.

Put simply, whilst we must always consider the feelings of those in the room, there is indeed a time for candour. There is a time when being refreshingly honest is what someone needs to jolt them into a new way of thinking; a new way of being.

Time it right and we can build on their existing skills and instill confidence when they can see how much power they have to achieve. Get it wrong and confidence is destroyed and motivation disintegrates.

How  do we know what is right & what is wrong? Experience teaches us much, but when considering candour, ask yourself this simple question:

“What do I want this person to do differently as a result of what I am thinking about saying?”

If you can’t articulate this positively, then candour may need to wait. If you can, and you know they will understand this, then honesty is invariably the best policy.

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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