Monday, 15 March 2010


I have two days of training to deliver this week. I love delivering training.

You never know what the ‘crowd’ that you are going to deliver training to will be like. But I can conclude the following:

• It’s quite different delivering to a ‘team’ that already know each other and have their own ‘culture’ ingrained from delivering to a group of people that have travelled to your training and don’t know each other.
• If you work out a set of ‘ground’ rules before you deliver the training, it makes a much better ‘training space’ than if you don’t.

Something a wise and very experienced trainer (on a ‘training the trainers’ course) once taught me was this:

In any group you will get the following (it’s a bell curve again. i think you can get maslow and a bell curve to have relevance in just about any training):

A for Advocates – people that are already using whatever the training is about and completely ‘buy into’ it.

B for Bouncy Bubblies - I am not sure that was her term exactly but she meant people that are positive and want to sponge up all you have to offer.

C for Cynics - those that can get there but need a bit of convincing. These will ask challenging questions, not to disrupt or sabotage, but to enhance their learning and develop clarity.

D for Deadwood – those that simply refuse to receive any learning and challenge everything for the sake of challenging and to be all out-negative and disruptive, not for learning. She just wanted the word to begin with a ‘D’ – she meant it with ‘love’ (Jonathan).

And what this clear thinking and wise woman said was:

• Pitch your training to the Cynics. Convince them and your work is well done.
• Avoid locking horns with the Deadwood. As tempting as it is – especially if you become rattled, if you engage in trying to convince the inconvincibles and put lots of effort into attempting to persuade them, you will have neglected the As, Bs and Cs and will have achieved nothing (other than a heated debate and some bad feeling in the room).

I loved this advice.

As a delegate I am mostly B by a long way unless, as sometimes happens, the training is awful and ineptly delivered. Then I will become a C or possibly even a D. I love learning and if the training is well composed, I will lap up everything there is on offer. Unless I really need something clarified, I leave the challenging until after the session when I reflect upon what I have learned and challenge my own understanding.

Luckily for me, as a trainer, I don’t encounter too many Ds even though a lot of my field could be perceived as sensitive and controversial - especially sex and relationships education. When I do, I heed the advice I have been given.

Now I might have talked myself into a training room full of deadwood this week. Still – great for art projects.


  1. Oh I am definitely a Bouncy B.

    I never realised you taught matters of a sexual nature. Do you watch that channel 4 programme 'Embarrassing Bodies'? I caught it for the first time last night - oh my, I'd be much too shy to appear on there. Talk about graphic.


  2. I will be A, B, C or D depending on the topic and/or the delivery. I went to a pre-teenage parenting class the other day and I was a total A of the techniques and B for more, but the delivery was awful and so I didn't engage...

  3. I'm usually a B but recently attended a training session on social marketing where I definitely moved into the C/D zone. The group were made up of professionals and members of the public working in patient and public involvement in the health sector. The trainer started the session by stating that in order for social marketing to be successful you had to know your audience...he then went on to deliver one of the worst training sessions I have ever attended!! It wasn't pitched to his audience at all which meant he lost all credibility and, to make matters worse, when he was challenged he got very aggressive and defensive!!

    Still, I met some lovely people that work in my field so it wasn't all bad :-)

    C x

  4. FF - Bouncy Bees always make a training day fun.

    I even blogged about my job (nearly) ages ago despite not being too keen to go on a busman's holiday. I try to avoid watching TV programmes about the area of my job....for aforesaid reason.

    Claire - I tend never to be A until after I have attended training. And if I am already using something - I tend not to go on training about whatever it is. I always thought the As were a bit strange because of that!

    I will only be a D if pushed hard to it by someone's terribleness!!!! Early in post, I went on training about sexually transmitted infections and the man was so outrageously prejudiced everyone complained.

    Delivery is so important.

    Carol - ahh social marketing! Buzz word in our office at the moment.

    There are some 'not-overly-engaging trainers out there and because the first stage of change implementation is 'buy in'...then those trained are hardly likely to go do - if they have not even engaged in the training.

    I always find it strange when I go to teacher training that makes teachers sit and listen for an entire day - despite everyone knowing this is not how the vast majrity of people learn best. Do as I say - not as I do in practice.

  5. Being self-employed I'm nearly always a B as I'm paying and want to get the most out of the event. If I'm ever going to something because of an externally imposed necessity to jump through a particular hoop I'm definitely a C. Again, being my own boss, I can't afford to be an A and if ever I want to be a D I'll just invite the Jehovah's Witnesses in for a chat.

  6. You made me laugh Jonathan! Again. With, not at and with love of course.

  7. Yes, but you don't always know till you get to a course if you are A of it! You often know the topic area but not the details/techniques/etc. they are going to train you in...innit? xxx

  8. Neat - liked that. And I'd agree. I have a lot of experience as a facilitator and trainer too. Only thing I'd say about D (deadwood) is that they sometimes have the capacity to jump straight to A or B

    I found a useful a technique is to confront them and find out why they are so negative - maybe ask them to articulate to the group why they feel as they do. It has to be handled carefully, but often I would find their reasons for negativity were quite slight - and the catharsis of opening up to the group could bring them round.

  9. So imagine if, as you say every word during training, there are people quickly moving back and forth from A to B, maybe some from D to C, then back to D again with a smirk.

    You could almost see the bell curve there as a 3d surface, maybe like a big blanket / trampoline they are rolling around on. One which your words are pulling the sides of so you can balance them into the right category, but sometimes unwieldely since they have pesky free will and opinions of their own. Damn their free wills during training!

  10. I dunno, I think "cynic" is a bit of a negative label for someone who is sceptical but willing to be convinced?

    I tend to be a C when presented with new information. You want me to believe this outrageous truth? Convince me!

    I remember a maths lecturer telling us that a mathematical proof should be a stand-up row. You really want me to believe this result? You'd better prove it to me every step of the way!

    OK, so it has to start with C. How about a "Convince-me"?

  11. I once had a roomful of people who had gone beyond D. They had been made to understand that their jobs were seriously at risk if they didn't go on the course, didn't get to grips with the computer software and didn't engage. I could smell and taste the hostility in the room.

  12. Sandra - awful - my husband is teaching on a course like that at the moment - Polish air traffic controllers in their 50s who will lose their job if they don't get their level of English up to scratch in 2 weeks. He can't understand why they aren't therefore B, but they are way way too pissed off...

  13. I guess what I forgot to say was .....this is about what the people arrive as..for whatever reason..and people's willingness to receive the training..... Good training will be received by A, Bs and Cs, true deadwoods refuse to learn - whatever. If everyone arrives D...that's going to be hard!

    Mark - I have experienced what you say about Ds too. I go and talk to them individually usually and unpick their issues and yes...they can do a U turn with the right coaxing.

    Sandra - nothing worse that delivering compulsory training (I don't!) that everyone is resenting from the off! Arrive D. But equally preaching to the converted doesn't feel overly satisfying.

    Convince-me might be better Codgi....but as ever - I'm not worried about the details...I just like the concept! Me N ing you T ing! (It's what we extravert)

    Eric - nutter. Turning a B into a C during training is probably bad training or thye've signed up to the wrong course (course literature was misleading). If they are going to move - good training will take them A wards....although some might remain more sceptical throughout. We'd need a sub category. C start to B, A d straight to A, B start A...etc....No let's just stick with arrival and natural disposition!!! For my sanity!

  14. Yeah, I like the concept too. Forgot to mention that bit :)

  15. Ah - I got you to extravert your intuition


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