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Training Difficult People


Most experienced trainers have, at some point in their career, had to deal with a delegate who is either disruptive, or simply doesn't want to be in the training room. This is not only a waste of time for that individual, but has the potential to disrupt the training session and adversely affect everyone else's learning experience.

Techniques for dealing with difficult delegates are covered on Silicon Beach Training's 2-day Train the Trainer course. The following article provides a useful overview of the techniques trainers can empoly to deal with disruptive attendees.

Teaching the person who doesn't want to be there

Sometimes when delegates on your training course are negative, disinterested or even disruptive it is often because they have been sent by their employers but are not interested in learning. It can be helpful at the beginning of the training to ask why delegates are there. You can begin to draw them in by asking them what they would like to learn or gain from being there, so they start to look at what they can actually get from the day.

Executive and senior delegates often fall into the category of not believing they need to be there. Encourage delegates to have their say about the way they'd been co-erced into the training, let them tell you how busy they are and how much time this training is wasting, if they have the chance to get it off their chest they are more likely to relax and start to participate and respond to the training. Also having confided in you, you have begun to earn their trust.

If a delegate is particularly disruptive, a preferred approach is to take them aside from the rest of the group to ask them what it is that is bothering them. Tell them what you have observed (in a detached rather then accusatory way), tell them what effect it is having on the group and what change would be preferred. You could apologise for doing anything that could have upset them, and say that you wouldn't like the rest of the group to suffer as a result. Tell them if they are still unhappy you would like them to tell you privately at the end of the course so that you can take their suggestions on board.
Setting reasonable ground rules can help such as listening to the contributions of others, no interrupting, etc. If you can discuss the rules as a group at the beginning then there is a lot of peer pressure to comply.

If a delegate disagrees with the content of a course a good course of action is to ask the opinion of the whole group on the subject, it may be necessary to think on your feet and to adapt content to suit the majority.

As a last resort, if a delegate is convinced that the training is not useful to them and continues to be disruptive you could politely ask the delegate to leave. This should be done in a break or to one side, never in front of the group.

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