How To Handle Difficult People In Training Courses
Have you ever had a training participant that is just ... difficult?
I know I have.
But here’s the thing … how do learn to handle these individuals?
Today, I want to talk about different types of difficult participants. Also, how you as a trainer can employ strategies to support ‘difficult people’ during training sessions.
Understanding why we need to handle difficult people
When conducting a training session, the trainer must support a range of different individuals and situations while still achieving the objectives of the training program.
The types of individuals covered are:
This individual loves to hear themselves talk. They will often go on forever in asking a question or inserting a comment. If nothing stops them, they could talk for the entire course.
As the trainer, you need to take control. You need to do this politely. But, firmly at the same time. These individuals do have things to contribute but you also need to include everyone else.
Here are a few comments that you could intervene with:
Invest time to make sure that each of your statements are clear and easy to understand.
I grouped a few types of participants together as your response will be much the same. Once you have established that these individual are not participating productively, you must start to bring control to the training session.
One natural way to cope with these individuals is to let the group "deal" with them.
Here a simple comment that you could intervene with:
The main thing is not to engage in discussion with these individuals.
Some empathy may be appropriate but you must consider the whole group and why you are there.
Humor is a positive in most training session but it can be taken too far. The main trait of a joker/clown is an inappropriate and often annoying humor that disrupts the session.
The trainer has to deal carefully with such behavior by showing that the behavior is not acceptable.
The Interrupter/Rambler/Side Conversationalist
I grouped a few types of participants together as your response will be similar. Participants that interrupt the session, those that don’t listen or ramble on, can greatly impact a course. They like to interrupt, have side conversations that reduce the value of the training session to others.
The trainer again must control this behavior. I find that the best method to handle this situation is to keep passing by these trainees to demonstrate that this behavior is not acceptable.
You can also using the following comments to re-direct them:
THE CLAM doesn't contribute or participate. It might be from shyness, or lack of preparation, or disinterest.
I find that it is best to get participants to work in pairs or in groups. While working in groups, arrange that activities will require everyone to contribute.
The bully and aggressive type of participant can have many different types of behavior. All are used to attract attention (e.g., be completely silent, non-participatory or may complain about various aspects of the training like venue, chairs, and refreshments). When they observe a weak point in the material or in the way it is being presented they can also attack the trainer.
I find that quite often this person may not know that their actions may make the other participants feel uncomfortable or even detract from the training session.
It can be impossible to truly answer this type of individual as often the root cause has more to do with things outside of the training.
It is best if you, when answering, to do so to the whole group, not personally. The follow will help:
As the trainer you must keep note of your own emotions and not get defensive.
I find that during a break it may be appropriate to speak privately with them to discover the source of the behavior. And how it can be supported so the goals of the training can also be achieved.
Prevent the development of conflicts
Here are a few quick tips:
Intervene when the group gets stuck with disagreements. A good way to do this is to use examples from your own experience.
Establish ways of working at the start of the training.
Express your approval when someone from the group offers a proposal and treat the ideas of the group members in an open and
Follow the development of the ideas in the group, analyzing them tactfully and supporting where necessary.
Andre's purpose is to reconnect people to their Dignity and Honor in Being Human.
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Andre Koen, Facilitator
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