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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

How Not To Ingratiate Yourself With Those You Serve

effective 2-way communication and training-speak don't mix

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

I was talking to a friend the other day, one who works in a large corporate environment with a dedicated training staff. We were chatting about a new program he was deeply involved in, and the subject of the training elements of his program came up.

Now, my friend is a huge advocate of training, and truly values what it contributes to the company. But at one point in the conversation he kind of chuckled and said, "Sometimes my eyes glaze over when those folks get talking."

His issue was training terminology and the training staff's insistence that everything be translated into their vocabulary. Some of that training-speak just came across as mystical mumbo-jumbo, and internal clients like my friend just patiently wait them out (or furtively check their smartphones) while the training staff drone on.

We were having this conversation in a coffee shop, and we talked about the annoying corrections that we sometimes get as we move from one shop to the next. It gets kind of tricky to remember which shop has a "medium" or a "grande" or an "extra tall" or something else for the size drink you want. We agreed that it just irks us when we use the "wrong" term -- as if the term a customer uses to order a product could truly be wrong -- and the person behind the counter pointedly repeats the order with the "correct" terminology.

That's not service, that's just annoying your customers. That's putting your loyalty to your own organization above your desire to provide the best service to your customers or clients.

So when you're in a meeting and the people from the client departments talk about "skills" or "abilities" they want their employees to have, do you make a point of talking about "competencies"? When they talk about the "purpose" or "goals" of the training part of the their project, do you make a big fuss about "learning objectives"?

Let me give you another real-world example. When I'm not working in the training field, my avocation, if you will, is teaching Irish Gaelic for a volunteer organization. We run workshops where people spend a day, or even a weekend, learning or practicing Irish conversation, and at those events, during breaks and other social times, rank beginners get mixed together with fairly advanced students.

Now, I have been to many of these workshops run by other organizations over the years, and we have lots of reports from our own students who have attended similar workshops as well. One thing we have all seen is a conversation between a beginner and, say, an intermediate student in which the beginner is struggling just to say a few things, and the intermediate student keeps speaking as if in conversation with a peer, rather than someone with much less ability to speak the language.

One thing we teach all of our own students is that when they find themselves in the role of more advanced student, it is their job to help the beginner communicate. If you have more communication skill, you should use that skill to help those who know less get their ideas out into the conversation.

When you are talking about training topics, sure, you know more, you are the expert.

But are you using that knowledge to make it easier, or harder, for your internal clients to engage in a productive conversation about what you are going to do together?

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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