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Emma Sue Prince



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It’s love, actually


Recent research suggests that love has a place at work and in the training room. No, not workplace romance but love.

Forget the kind of love you see in greeting cards and Valentines, though. According to emotion researcher Barbara Fredrickson, author of “Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become”, love is much more ordinary.

“Love is any positive emotion that we share with another person in real time,” Fredrickson says. “It could be shared serenity, pride, or compassion, but the minute that it becomes shared, it is converted to an experience of love.” She goes on to say that we often experience these moments at work but perhaps do not always recognise them. But that the more we do, the more we will start to care about the company as a whole.

What is love’s place in the training room then?

For me, it’s through the showing and demonstration of unconditional positive regard for each and every person who has landed in your training room. I sometimes think of this simply as loving them, – yes, I said LOVING them!

Unconditional positive regard, a term popularly believed to have been coined by the humanist Carl Rogers  is basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does. Rogers believes that unconditional positive regard is essential to healthy development. Although this principle is commonly used in the therapy-client approach, I believe it holds the same value for the relationship between trainer and learner.

It is really hard to release the tremendous creative energy of experiential learning if participants don’t feel like they are in an environment where they will be safe from feeling ridiculous. So as  the trainer, it is up to you to build that atmosphere of mutual affection and trust.This is especially true if we are encouraging learners to experiment, go out of their comfort zone and take risks in order to develop their self-awareness and soft skills.

And if we use this basic premise from the moment we enter the training room, it has an immediate effect on the outcome of that training. It takes tremendous effort and focus to consistently and continually demonstrate this positive regard throughout a training session; you feel completely exhausted afterwards, but it makes you present, aware and sharpens your ability to deliver a great session in bucket-loads.

And it is so simple! If I’ve made that decision to love my participants before I even start the training, I treat them accordingly. I seem to automatically value what they say, each question, each comment and I equally value the person or people in the room who may be resisting the session. I put myself in their shoes, I am more humble, I take care with my instructions. I’m also far more aware of how the session is going and able to adapt faster to changes I may need to make, whether that is adding in a reflection session, expanding on an exercise to take into account points raised by participants, speeding up, slowing down or simply changing what I am doing.

To practice unconditional positive regard, to really love anyone who has chosen to attend one of my training sessions (or has been sent to one!) it is also necessary to put my own ego and my “stuff” completely to one side – in fact I don’t even take them with me – I leave that outside the training room. As long as I have prepared my session to the best of my ability and as long as I make that choice to love, I know I am ready to give my best, to improvise and to deliver.

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Author Profile Picture
Emma Sue Prince


Read more from Emma Sue Prince

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