I recently attended a training session that was of more of a technical nature than some I had attended in the past; those of us who are trainers understand technical training can present a plethora of intricacies, some seen and some unforeseen. Some of the attendees, those local and remote, were experiencing their share of issues with "logging on to the system." That doesn't sound so far-fetched, now does it? I simply sat in the back of the training room and observed the facilitator's demeanor and actions. As he calmly instructed the attendees, I realized he had found the training magic. I thought to myself, "Wow, this guy possesses an abundance of patience—that's something we all can use." If anyone has conducted a Webinar or remote location training, they probably understand how important patience is.
Patience, I thought. It makes complete sense—patience truly is a virtue. So I considered myself and what I was made of. What does it take for me to be an effective and successful trainer? I decided through observation and trial and error that I need at least, but certainly not only, three tools everyday. They are patience, empathy, and credibility: the PEC. All three tools play major roles in effective training. Let's look at them one at a time.
1. Patience:I know we don't all perform at the same level or learn at the same time as everyone else. The digestion of information occurs at various and different times for every learner. The trainer/facilitator needs to take note of the learner's information digestive patterns and either slow down or speed up the pace of instruction. A trainer without patience can be responsible for the unfortunate mis-learning or non-learning of a class participant.
2. Empathy:I have read where empathy is defined as the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attributes of another. I don't think there is anything wrong with identifying with the challenges of your learners. It is OK for them to know that you, the instructor, weren't always as smart as you are now. Practicing empathy will allow you to understand the level your learners are functioning on, so you can appropriately meet them at their needs. I refer to this as being emotionally intelligent.
3. Credibility: From my own experience, one of the worst occurrences was attending an education session where the instructor was slack in understanding and/or delivering the information. I struggled through that class. I made a promise to myself that I would never let any of my students feel that way about my instruction. When instructing a class, we should respect the attendees enough to know the material ourselves and efficiently present it. One of my best learning experiences came from attending a learning session given by an instructor who was knowledgeable, articulate, and personable—the instructor also possessed patience, empathy, and credibility. As a learner, no one thing has turned me off so much from class than listening to someone who is providing me with bad or inconsistent information. In the classroom and in other aspects of life, we are only as good as our word. We should want to be credible for our learners. Shouldn't we?
The next time you are preparing for a class, consider the leverage of employing patience, empathy, and credibility. The PECking order lends itself to more than a hierarchical system of social organization; it can be the saving grace of a training session. If you want to ease the fears and frustrations of your learners, show them patience. If you want to make a connection of understanding with your learners, show them empathy. If you want your learners to trust you and have faith in you, show them credibility.
Jason L. James Jr. is a corporate trainer with an international financial services company. His professional experiences are of classroom instruction and instructional design, project management, accounting, and compliance. James can be reached at Jason.L.JamesJr@gmail.com.