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Dealing with Difficult People


Dealing with Difficult People
Interactive CD-Rom, introduced by Rick Brinkman and Rich Kirschner
Produced by Athena Interactive
Supplied by Intelligent Training Solutions Ltd, 29 Narrow Street, London E14 8DP
Tel: 0171 791 3000
Email: [email protected]

Many learners are still unfamiliar with CD-Rom based training materials so a test for me is always the extent to which a resource is genuinely user-friendly. Good resources draw the learner in, engage with them in a fun way, hold their interest, and allow them to move through the material little if any technical expertise in how the programme works.

Dealing with Difficult People is a CD resource which works equally well on Windows 3.1, 95 and NT platforms, as well as Macintosh’s. The programme is easy to load, installing any additional system extensions which it needs onto the hard drive.

The two main presenters have assembled a significant amount of information about inter-personal communications, focusing on those behaviours which tend to cause problems to other people e.g. silence, evasion, questioning, hostility, etc. After a good introductory session, the two presenters invite you into their Laboratory where there is a helpful and detailed explanation of the causes of many communications problems and some useful tools for responding to them in a more effective way. For me, this was one of the best areas of what is quite a large resource.

The overall plan of the CD is set out as a Village in which the learner is invited to move from one area to another. In the Park, William Guillory sets out some principles of good leadership in a more tutorial style. In the Movie Theatre you can view some role-play clips illustrating the more theoretical points. In the Bakery is an assistant who appears to have a store of (slightly irritating) anecdotes around the main subject matter. There is also a guide to useful backup materials in print, and most of the pages can also be printed off for future reference. Completion of all sections in the programme enables the user to access a printed Certificate produced by the programme.

This would be a useful resource for self-study learners engaged in communications skills development, customer care programmes and some aspects of management development. It meets most of my user-friendly criteria for ease of use. The on-screen instructions are easy to follow, there’s plenty to do, the content is good, and it does not assume any technical expertise. As with all US-sourced products, the voice intonations may irritate a UK audience (and depending on the storage technology, it is now possible to allow users to choose their preferred voice tone). I would have preferred more ‘skip’ options allowing me to move through the material faster - but this would be a less serious concern for new learners. All-in-all, this is a good demonstration of what CD-based learning materials are capable of delivering.

Tim Pickles
August 1999


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