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Training with heart pt2


Do you feel there's something missing from your training experience? Mark Walsh concludes his piece explaining why you should put your heart into it.

Who or what does the trainer serve?

While training must always have a return on investment to be considered, a trainer with heart does not serve profit, themselves, or even the people who have commissioned them, but the human beings in front of them. This may sound a little radical and I believe it is often the elephant in the training room. As a trainer this can put you in tricky situations and long-term, the 'I (trainer), 'we' (group) and the 'it' (company profit) can always be aligned - if someone is in the wrong job for example, it is better to find this out in training sooner rather than later for all involved.
Ultimately, and I am aware that this may go to far for some, if a trainer is not connected to spirituality in some form - their highest calling or values for example - their work will be dull, empty and without heart. 
"In the future we may no more want our training to be heartless than mindless - both are integral parts of being a person, and therefore business and organisational life."

Is the trainer courageously authentic (and funny)?

When a trainer is both connected to their own values and serving others, the opportunity to be fully authentic arises. The split between work and play, and the narrative of 'serious professionalism' (meaning emotionally and spiritually cut-off, closed - basically a BS merchant) is no longer necessary. Authenticity takes courage because it involves vulnerability - if you can really be seen, you can really be hurt. As a trainer who, like many, has gotten used to the safety of the 'expert' position this is a growth-edge for me. When I manage it, my training is universally assessed as better than when I am fearful, polished and closed to real human contact in the training room. Skip the cliches, just be yourself - hang on isn't that one itself? (Humour is also part of heart, I would say)

Metaphor and pathology

Neuroscience is now increasingly recognising the importance of emotions and neurones outside the brain, particularly in the gut and heart, for thinking and social interaction (see Antonio Damasio, for example). The Japanese sharing of one character for heart and mind (shin) may be very wise. So while I am using the near universal symbol of heart as a metaphor here, there is in fact a growing base for this in neurology. In the future we may no more want our training to be heartless than mindless - both are integral parts of being a person, and therefore business and organisational life. From a trauma perspective, to take the heart from training can be seen as a form of dissociation on a group level; clinically it shares characteristics with both autism and psychopathy (!) 

Conclusion and modern training trends

Essentially, what 'heart' refers to is both real emotional intelligence and deep integrity. Because of the potential influence trainers as educators have within organisations, I very much hope this plea is taken to heart - if you'll excuse the pun. This is not a minor add-on matter but the essence of what is problematic in the modern workplace and a much-needed change for the future. The growing emphasis on training measurement and outcomes is something which which I fully support as long as heart is not removed from the picture. Whether elearning can really ever really impart the qualities I am talking about is up for debate. Would you really want your childs teacher at school being replaced by a computer? No, because the emotional and interpersonal elements of education are vital; why then in the corporate world are they considered less so? Ethics aside (and I believe they should never be at work) the evidence of what makes an effective manager points clearly to these competencies in any event, so business sense as well as human common sense may yet win through. Perhaps the simplest way of discussing training with heart is the golden rule - I ask myself as a trainer, would I want to learn like this?

Mark Walsh leads business training providers Integration Training - based in Brighton, London and Birmingham UK.  Specialising in working with emotions, the body and spirituality at work they help organisations get more done without going insane (time management and stress training), coordinate action more effectively (team building and communication training) and help leaders build impact, influence and presence. Clients include blue-chip companies, UNICEF, The Sierra Leonian Army and the University of Sussex. In his spare time Mark dances, meditates, practices aikido and enjoys being exploited by his nice and two cats. His life ambition is to make it normal to be a human being at work.

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