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

Vocabulary Moratorium

give up your usual training vocabulary to talk about your clients' world

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Let's imagine that you hit your head as you got out of bed this morning, and it produced a very peculiar, localized brain injury. The effect, which will last one day, is that you cannot use words like "train," "training," or "employee development." They simply have vanished from your vocabulary for the day.

Could you still put in a good day's work, with this condition? Could you still talk to your internal or external clients about what they need, about what you are doing for them? Could you describe what you do for a living, in terms of the benefits you bring to the organizations who use your services?

In effect, you would be severely limited in your ability to talk about the actual activities you engage in, the "what you do" question at its lowest level. Your response might be to talk about the benefits your clients derive from your work.

For instance, if you cannot talk about delivering safety training for your company, you can still talk about improving the safety record there. If you cannot say you are a trainer in cash flow analysis, you can say that you guide financial institutions into making better decisions about lending money to businesses.

Why not try this out? Not the whack on the head, of course, just try to get through the day as if the usual training vocabulary is not available to you. (Indeed, many, many training professionals may find they communicate better if they also ditch "learning objectives" and many other terms closely associated with the training field.)

And do not hide, actively engage others in conversation about what needs to be done, how things are going, and so on. You'll gain a lot of practice talking the way people talk when they are focused on business results instead of "training outcomes."

Your partners in conversation may not even notice. Or they may wonder about you for a moment, and then decide this is a pleasant change. From the point of view of another department manager or function head or company client, you are suddenly talking mostly about their world, which they understand. And they don't have to "translate" from the language of your world, which do not understand, nor, often, appreciate.

After you have survived your first day of "training vocabulary deficit syndrome," schedule another moratorium on your work calendar. Make this a regular practice, as frequent or as rare as you like.

Chances are, once you have done this a few times, you will schedule moratoria more often. Strange to say, you may actually grow to enjoy these new types of conversations and interactions with those to whom you deliver training services.

I can almost guarantee that the people on the other side of these conversations and interactions will enjoy the change, and both sides may discover that a stronger relationship, and better outcomes, are the result.

© 2011 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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