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Steve Robson

Marine Industry

Learning and Development Consultant

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Delegate Issues


Looking for inspiration...

Would anyone be willing to share what they deliver via Train the Trainer on the subject of dealing with problem delegates.

I have a number of sessions I deliver, none of which I am happy with and I'm sure there must be a better way...

Looking forward to seeing what you have.



9 Responses

  1. Difficult situations

    Hi Steve, I have widedned the question a bit, here is my handout form the TTT I run:

    Dealing with problem situations

    There is no such thing as problem people – just people with problems.

    The problem people have may be you so identify what it is they are reacting to either by observation of the things you are saying or doing or by asking them directly at a break.

    Check rapport with all individuals within the group frequently – eye contact for face to face and questions on the phone – giving people notice of the questions.     

    Focus on the outcome of the training – this will enable you to be more flexible with the content and approach if this is the issue.

    Ask for and ensure you understand personal outcomes so you can match these to the session.

    For most soft skills and leadership areas let the attendees know that they can apply this to any situation – work, home, social life to maximise the relevance to all attendees.   

    Identifying probable objections beforehand and prepare responses.

    Frame the training carefully and out-frame potential issues subjects/areas as this makes it easier to manger later.

    Questioning process if persistent questioner – define the question being asked and check for understanding by you and by them, address the question and confirm the answer and move on or refer to come back later if it cannot be resolved there and then.  

    The group is more important than the individual so if needs must ask the individual to leave the training so that the rest can gain from it.   

    I am sure you do these as I do but if things are going wrong for me I usually identify that I have forgot one or more. Cheers.     

  2. Thanks

    Thanks…thats pretty much what I do and a lot more. I'm guessing there may not be another way.

    Thinking about it, there really isn't much you can do with this subject?

    Or is there?

  3. Run a role play

    Hi Steve, i agree, I do run a role play where the trainer delivers a 5 minute piece to a small group – one of the group is handed a piece of paper with an iussue they have – they don't understand, they feel the session is not relevant – they dislike something the trainer says etc.

    Everyone is aware of the situation so we are helping to build muscle memory and take away some of the shock value of such an event, especilaly for new trainers. This works very well. Cheers.    

  4. Thanks again

    Thanks again…yes I do that one as well except everyone gets a piece of paper with various behaviours from engaged to bored to need the toilet.

  5. Video

    What we have created in house is a video of a trainer conducting a session where one of the candidates does or says something which is problematic or challenging. The clip is stopped just before the trainer responds and then the participants are asked either in pairs or individually to discuss what action they would take and why.

    We discuss these responses and the pro’s and cons of each.

    Finally, we set the video off again and watch what the trainer actually does to deal with the situation.

    We have six different scenarios:

    1. 1. The Racists
    2. 2. The Critic
    3. 3. The Lost and Helpless
    4. 4. The Sleeper
    5. 5. The Know It All
    6. 6. The Telephoner

    It’s not a very sophisticated piece of video. The quality isn’t amazing, the acting not Oscar level, you can tell its home grown but I do find it works and provokes discussion which allows us to explore appropriate and inappropriate responses.

  6. Activity

    Hi Steve, 

    I do some of the above too. Something I also do is to split the group into 2 or 3 smaller groups and ask each group to identify the 5 people related situations they are 'dreading' dealing with most. Each group then shares their list on a flip. We do not talk about how to handle at this stage. Then I ask each group to go to a different flip and ask them to think about how they might handle the situation and share their 'advice' with the main group once they have generated some responses. We then have a facilitated discussion on the various situations. It is lively and engaging and comes at a good time in the day when energy can potentially be flagging. It also means they focus on what they believe to be potentially challenging rather than a prescribed list of situations. 



  7. like it
    Thanks Angela…I like it. Bit annoyed I didn’t think of it myself!!
    It’s in the next course for sure.

  8. Challenging behaviours

    Hi Steve

    Another variation on the theme here, some thoughts on the subject taken from our experience running the TAP Certificate in Facilitation…

    After making the point that it is the behaviour that is challenging, rather than the person, we explore some possible reasons for it. Examples such as personal problems, redundancy, unfavourable past experiences of the subject matter etc.

    We then ask our learners to come up with a list of strategies – at this point we do not look at specific behaviours to find specific strategies. We then try to see how they might help with various different challenges. The benefit of this is that the focus of the session is a list of strategies for any situation (as opposed to a list of challenging behaviours to deal with). We see how flexible every strategy can be, and how subtle amendments can make all the difference for a range of behaviours.


    The potential challenges we tend to elicit from the group are:

    Aggressive/Dominant – rude, loud, opinionated

    Analytical/Theoretical – “Why?”, challenge trainers knowledge/authority

    Attention Seeker/Distracter – interrupts constantly

    Unco-operative – play games, “tut/huff”, stare out of window

    Complaining – room, course, software, refreshments

    Angry – forceful gestures, tearful, loud/quick speech

    Upset – tearful, reject support, leave suddenly

    Over-contributing – Question trainer, move ahead, impatient

    Non-contributor/Reluctant – defensive body language, breaks away from the others, remain silent during discussions

    Perfectionist – tidy, need more time to complete tasks, apologise, get easily frustrated.

    Performance – faster/slower than others, does not meet course pre-requisites.

    Slap-dash – work quickly even if wrong

    Snoozing – close eyes, yawn,

    Hope that helps,



Author Profile Picture
Steve Robson

Learning and Development Consultant

Read more from Steve Robson

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