Can You Learn Emotional Intelligence?

Either you ‘re smart or you ‘re not.

That ‘s how most people think. You are born with a certain brain and, like your height or the colour of your eyes, there isn ‘t much that you can do about it. You can study, read, and practice. But your potential peak is already set by your DNA, and you can’t alter that, outside of science-fiction anyway.

Well, actually, you can. There is a great deal you can do. Especially in the realm of emotional intelligence, or those capacities you have to understand and manager our own emotions, and those of others. This is important for two reasons. After a score of 120, IQ ceases to be a factor in success, especially in leadership. And success in the workplace is about 20% dependent on IQ; EQ is the largest other (but not only other) factor.

Intelligence is Multiple

Psychologist Robert Sternberg found that there were three types of intelligence: analytic, creative and practical. Only the first is linked to academic prowess. Educationalist Howard Gardener proposed eight intelligences, two of which are intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence, the essence of EI. Everyone has gifts; everyone can become gifted.

Intelligence is Mastery

Some models of EI view it as a set of traits, located at the lower levels of personality. But the most experts understand EI as a set of abilities. These abilities show themselves in our behaviour, as we adapt to different situations and solve various problems. Motivation and empathy, and especially the social and communication skills, are habits we can master with training and practice, lots of practice, approximately 10.000 hours of it!

Intelligence is Mindset

Carol Dweck has popularised the idea that there are two mindsets fixed and growth and that these two mindsets determine success in different areas, including learning. Someone with a fixed mindset want to be told they ‘re smart, that smartness is an ability, and they they either have it or don ‘t. A growth mindset person believes that smartness depends on effort and attitude, and that they can learn whatever they want.

Intelligence is Malleable

Science is providing evidence that the brain isn ‘t static but rather malleable, that is, able to continually changing in response to new information and experiences. This concept is called neuroplasticity, and applies also to intelligence. Even capabilities normally associated with IQ such as reasoning and memory can shift over time and with training.

Ah yes, “with training.” That’s where we come in. The Sensei team train and coach on all these areas, and have done so since our start. We’ve helped people in workplaces, universities, and schools learn emotional intelligence. And we love to work with you too. In the mean time, if you want your brain expanded a little, try juggling or comedy, maybe at the same time!

GoToWebinar Review

GoToWebinar is software that is designed to enable you to deliver webinars online seminars without having to think too hard about the technical side of things.

For those engaged in public speaking, webinars offer some clear advantages over arranging half and full-day workshops:

  1. Online setup in one place
  2. Automated communication, file-sharing, reminders and follow-up emails
  3. Zero travel (Organisers, Presenters and Attendees can “attend” from multiple physical locations)
  4. The Record facility enables absentees to catch up later

I’ve been using GoToWebinar now for about six months, to help a client deliver learning sessions online for their client. Here are my findings. (Title Case in the text of this blog post indicates the name of a GoToWebinar element, e.g. Presenter, Broad.)

GoToWebinar Setup Could Not Be Easier

To Schedule a Webinar, you login and complete the following information for each one:

  • Title
  • Date and Time
  • Timezone and Language
  • Description
  • Webinar Information
  • Organiser and Presenters (each is emailed their own unique link and Webinar Information, that enables them to join the webinar at the appointed time in the correct mode)

GoToWebinar Control Panel is Intuitive

Organisers have full control over every aspect of the webinar. Presenters have slightly less of these controls. Attendees simply have Sound, and a Question/Chat window.

  • Start
  • Start Broadcast
  • Record
  • Share screen
  • Control sound and webcams for Presenters
  • Chat Privately with anyone or compose messages and Send to All
  • Answer Attendee questions
  • Close webinar

GoToWebinar Enables Interaction

So many webinar tools allow only one-way communication: from the Presenter to the Attendees. GoToWebinar enables Presenters to encourage Attendees’ interaction by:

  • Asking questions and requesting responses via Chat
  • Displaying Polls and Results
  • Encouraging Attendees to type Questions, which Presenters can then answer as they go along

My anecdotal experience is that in webinars of around 100 Attendees or a little less, approximately 10% of Attendees interact by asking questions. Over 80% respond to Polls. Less than 5% use the Chat function perhaps Polls and Questions are more easily defined.

GoToWebinar Facilitates Follow-up & Reporting

  • You can email all Attendees, Presenters and Organiser a follow-up email
  • You can send a link to the Recording to anyone, not just Attendees
  • You can email detailed management reports (Attendee Reports) to relevant staff, including percentage engagement per attendee for example
  • You can also use the management reports to review Questions and Answers, Chat content

Organiser Checklist

If you’ve been given the task of setting up, running, marketing or presenting a webinar using GoToWebinar or a similar tool then this is your checklist:

Control Panel

  • You may need to use CMD+Tab on your keyboard to switch the focus of the mouse pointer between PowerPoint and your GoToWebinar Control Panel, so that you can click on it, and the same when you need to go back to PowerPoint to advance slides
  • This is useful for Organisers when you need to: Display Polls, use Chat, answer Questions, switch Presenters or switch on or off Sound or Webcams

Start the Webinar (but not the Broadcast)

  • This opens the webinar title page (an automated voice announces that broadcasting will start soon)
  • Caution: if you share your screen at this point, and have really early Attendees registering and joining the webinar, they will see it (though they will not be able to hear you talking with other Organisers or Presenters) this is a known issue

Get Your Presentation Ready

  • Have your PowerPoint presentation (for example) sitting open and in Display mode

Start Broadcast

  • This starts the webinar properly for Attendees to see and hear the Presenters and the presentation (an automated voice announces this to Attendees, Presenters and Organisers)
  • Click Record if you need a recording of the webinar (this will be available via a shareable link, shortly after the webinar is finished)

Have Presenters Welcome Attendees

  • It’s good practice to wait a minute or so, to enable latecomers to join (the majority will have joined by 2 minutes into the webinar)

Post Introductory Info into Chat Window

  • Add Welcome, Instructions or Presenter Bios, where relevant

Advance Slides

  • Begin to advance slides as Presenters move through the presentation
  • It’s best to have this worked out in advance with your Presenters the verbal cues for moving to the next slide, making for a smoother Attendee experience (listening to “next slide” gets boring real quick)
  • Presenters may move back and forward, depending on different sections of the presentation (again, arranging in advance how this is done keeps things seamless for Attendees)

Ask for Engagement

  • Display Polls
  • Send messages in Chat
  • Ask for Questions and answer them

Thank Attendees

  • Thank everyone for attending or presenting, as appropriate
  • Signpost to where Attendees can find additional (website) or follow-up information (emailed), and how they can access the recording (if there is one)

End Webinar

  • The webinar windows and Control Panel closes for all Attendees, Presenters and Organisers

Conduct Follow-up & Reporting

  • Send out all relevant emails as listed above

Need Help to Run a Series of Team or Client Webinars?

We can help you design your presentations, coach your Presenters or manage the tech side of things, leaving you relaxed and free to focus on the learning.

If you have any questions about webinars or GoToWebinar, or you’d like to talk to us about running some webinars for you, get in touch.

5 Ways to Engage Employees in Workplace Learning

So, you’re the HR (& Training Manager), right? You want to know how to engage employees in workplace learning. How come they always wait until the very last reminder email every month to complete their elearning modules?! When will I ever not have to run 43 mop-up webinars instead of the scheduled two?

The key is in the heading. Engage. You must do this at every stage. You must never expect employees to be engaged on demand, unless you first have engaged them.

Decades of Learning Theory in a Nutshell

Young children learn by mimicking. Later they learn to question, form their own opinions, debate and reason. Adults learn differently.

  • Adults learn best if they are engaged in every stage of the process of learning, from the first idea to the evaluation and redesign recommendations report. Engage employees in workplace learning by doing it from the start, not at the end of the process!

First: Have a No-Holds Barred Chat About It (or Brainstorm) One Hour

  • You need to get all those who’re interested in attending, or a representative bunch, together, in a room and discuss learning needs.
  • One of the easiest ways to do this is using a brainstorm. For the uninitiated, brainstorming was first introduced in a murder trial to denote a murderer’s state of mind, insanity. It’s not such an incorrect way to refer to a scattering of random ideas from multiple sources.
  • Allow people to throw out suggestions without form, reason, sense or justification. Brook no judgements. This is not a discussion, this is a brainstorm!

Second: Hold a Structured Meeting to Discuss the Mad Ideas From the Brainstorm (or Distill) One Hour

De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats provides a structure to enable everyone to contribute from multiple roles. Allow each person to wear a different coloured hat for 10 minutes at a time. Extra points for asking around for people to bring in actual coloured hats doesn’t matter in what style, as long as they’re coloured to wear during the meeting it’s a visual cue and there’s much to be said for a little silliness during working meetings.

  • White hat: the wearer must adopt an informative attitude and state facts only, e.g. We have 12 new employees who need trained on that new machine in the Fitting Department.
  • Yellow hat: the wearer must adopt a bright and optimistic attitude, e.g. If we have this new knowledge base designed for clients, we could dramatically lower our Support Team’s workload.
  • Black hat: the wearer must adopt a judgemental or discerning attitude (without dampening everyone’s spirits), e.g. This project is going to take months to complete.
  • Red hat: the wearer must adopt an intuitive attitude, expressing feelings, e.g. My gut’s telling me our older clients are going to love the convenience of this new feature.
  • Green hat: the wearer must adopt a creative attitude, expressing options and alternatives, e.g. We could deliver this as a PDF that all employees read, or we could hold a debate to help everyone thrash through the issues.
  • Blue hat: the wearer is the control, ensuring that the 6 thinking hats format is adhered to

Make a list of points to give to the people responsible for procuring and designing the learning. It’s their job to make sense of it all and ask further questions.

Third: Be as Creative as Heck (or Design)

  1. Hire an experienced adult learning professional to sift through the brainstorm notes and recordings and draft an initial topic content outline. (The person from HR is often not an experienced learning professional and forcing her to deliver a workshop is a shoddy way to treat any employee.)
  2. Discuss with them various elements that can make up the learning: eLearning, videos and other media, workshops, debates and discussions, coaching, reading, games, seminars, role-plays and lectures for example.
  3. Have the learning professional design the learning. Caution: committees cannot design content. Instead, they ruin it, because the loudest voice or group-think not solid learning principles and tactics wins.

Fourth: Insist that Senior Management Drop the Attitude and Show Up (or Implementation)

Yes, this is a difficult one. Working in middle management and insisting that “senior staff” attend been there, done that. But when senior management show learning is important by turning up, taking part, and implementing learning, others do too. Guess what happens when they don’t?

  • Many organisations make the fatal mistake of making learning compulsory for regular staff, but not for management. We once insisted on management taking part in a learning assessment that tested for knowledge. On the first day, it uncovered a serious lack of knowledge that could have cost the company millions had it not been noticed. We proved that specialist knowledge among management was important (who knew?!), that learning worked and suddenly every (previously too busy) manager wanted to take part.
  • If learning is to be taken seriously and you expect staff to attend, then senior management must be first out of the block. Lead and learn from the front; don’t beat from behind.

Fifth: Allow Employees to Rip the Backside Out of the Design and Implementation and Start Again (or Evaluation)

  • Does your organisation hold annual reviews or appraisals?
  • Does it discourage reciprocal, relaxed communication?
  • Are employees’ suggestions relegated to a dusty suggestion box? (Ed: Is that a joke, do people still use them?)
  • Instead, first create an atmosphere and culture where employees give feedback daily.
  • Then and only then can you ask for specific feedback on all learning initiatives.

This blog post is based on the complimentary principles of honesty, enablement and permission. If a learning professional was to be converted into a fly on the wall, what would they see? What would they hear?

If you need help with transforming your organisation into the type of place where management learns from the front and all employees become engaged from the start, contact us.

Multiple Intelligence Theory and Recruitment

Is Multiple Intelligence Just a Theory? Well, it turns out that some people are better suited to some jobs than others. Who knew?! For example, how’d you feel if someone told you that you had to sell 49 mortgages in one week? I once tried to be a Youth Worker, but after eight months of trying I realised I was just not the rah-rah type (extrovert) required. And, no amount of squirming pretence would help. Allen once tried a Sales Consultant job. He left after a day!

What Is Multiple Intelligence Theory?

Howard Gardner, Professor of Education at Harvard, first popularised the idea that IQ was too limited a measurement of intelligence and instead promoted his Multiple Intelligence Theory. It sets forth a pleasing list of categories, a few of which anyone might possess, and provides scientific solace for those who were haughtily labelled “slow”, “dull”, “distracted”, “better suited to a manual job”, “quiet” or “not really suited for academia”. Each is more of an aptitude or attraction, the encouragement and development of which in early learning and later in the workplace may result in an intelligent person who is highly skilled, as well as comfortable and even happy, in their work.

So What Type of Multiple Intelligence Do You Possess?

This is Gardner’s full list, along with a brief definition of each. He said that traditional education typically homes in on the first two, linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence (hence the well-known, but badly named, “three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic”).

In the real world, we prize those who can express themselves well (particularly in person) and those who can think logically. However, this ignores the vast range of human capability. Consider someone who is able to express themselves on canvas but is not necessarily comfortable with publicity. Or think of a talented singer who is not quite so adept at remembering to plan to pay his bills?

Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)

If you can communicate well, influence others, get people to notice you, enrapture an audience orally or in writing, you have made an impact and will be lauded for your intelligence, even if that is not how it is commonly labelled. Orators have long been celebrities of a kind the modern-day variations include entrepreneurs, inspirational speakers and even linguistically-gifted religious leaders. Even successful authors though pigeon-holed as lacking in social skills have fans queuing up to purchase their latest tome.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)

Those who are good with numbers, particularly with a scientific bent, are typically represented in the media as glasses-wearing, bookish types who crunch numbers for fun. They are worshipped for skills of which others can only dream of and provide merriment in movies for those whose understanding ends at the minutae of actors’ lives. Yet without such, we’d not have neither science nor inventions. And, it turns out Spocks have emotions too!

Yet, there are others who, while they may be praised, are not quite so prized or talked about in terms of “intelligence”.

Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)

Do you know someone who can look at a map and rotate it in their head? Conversely, do you know someone who always takes the wrong route after coming out of a building? Is there someone in your life who possess the uncanny ability tell the time without having looked at a clock for hours? Knowing where you are in the world in space and time, and being able to use this special power, is called spatial intelligence.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart)

Are you aware of any famous sportspeople? Are they called “intelligent” or are they instead fawned over by amateurs, fans and media alike for their “skill”? Have you ever watched a lumberjack or a farmer? It is a beautiful thing to behold their respect for wildness or life and their unity with the earth. This is another type of intelligence, and it is not something just anyone can either possess or manufacture, much less harness.

Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)

Think of someone you know not necessarily a celebrity musician who can play more than one instrument, turn their hand to new ones with relative ease, and who may also write their own music. This is musical intelligence. This person will almost certainly have been told that they needed to “get a real job” at some point. You may also find that their life is a little chaotic, a much-maligned trait that seems to manifest itself in the artistic, or creative, more than most.

Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart)

Do you know someone who seems to have a gift fo hospitality? And, who makes you feel right at home, whether on the golf course or at a large gathering where you feel like you are the only one there? And, who not only knows the social queues and mores, but even sets the tone for an evening? Are they able to influence and persuade and not always necessarily with pure motives? This is called interpersonal intelligence and it must be wielded with great wisdom.

Intrapersonal intelligence (Self Smart)

You’ll also know a really intense person, perhaps someone who seems to live in their head? Or, do you know someone who is so self-aware, it might even become debilitating (shyness)? What about that unusual child you know, who seems to possess such self-awareness, they seem like old souls? Intrapersonal intelligence is the skill of knowing yourself. In our look at me, self-promotional, extroverted-oriented world, it can feel that it is a skill that very few possess.

Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart)

Do you know someone who is more at home in the great outdoors than inside? Do they relax by booking a walking or adventure holiday? Are they inspired by explorers or animals? Does your social circle joke about how they could survive an apocalypse? This type of person probably possesses naturalist intelligence. They simply have a fascination and aptitude for all things outdoors and will feel caged and oppressed in a job that requires them to be sitting for long periods of time, inside.

We’re challenging the limiting myths and prejudices around inteligence this month on our Sensei Facebook page. Check it out and share some of our home-made memes!

And, Your Team? Are Your Harnessing Their Multiple Intelligence to Its Best Effect?

While education has some way to go in catching up with Gardener and his successors, who have developed their own variations on his mutiple intelligence theory, we can adapt our workplaces now to hire and develop the right people.

  • Have you ever wondered why your sales people aren’t performing as well as others?
  • Have you ever watched a trainer struggle to feel comfortable infront of a room of new trainees?
  • Is your accounts person just a little disorganised?

It’s possible that each of these people is in the wrong role. You cannot always put it down to the “wrong personality”, “inexperience” or “laziness”. It could be that your hiring and training practices are out of date.

Are You Recruiting and Developing People with the Right Multiple Intelligence for the Role?

  • Rewrite job role descriptions that match required and desired skills and knowledge to multiple intelligences
  • Rejig job application procedures to discover what type of intelligence applicants possess before you meet them
  • Modify the interview process to remove time-wasting questions that are easily answered by reading the application form or CV and instead devise ways to explore that person’s intelligence in relation to the role
  • Recruit the right people with particular aptitudes and skills for specific roles
  • Provide training that takes advantages of each person’s intelligence

Contact us to help you adapt your recruitment, selection and training processes to ensure that you get the right person for the role and that you develop and take full advantage of the specific multiple intelligence they possess.

The True Cost of Training

Training is like an iceberg. Only one-tenth of the volume of an iceberg appears visible above the water.

So it is with a training event. The actual bit that people see, the training day itself, is only a very small part of the whole. Lurking beyond the vision of participants and attendees lies the vast bulk of time the trainer has expended in creating the event. There are meetings with clients. There is topic research. There is the design of multiple presentation aids. There is the organisation of exercise materials. There is the writing and formatting of a workbook.

And this is without mention of a Training Needs Analysis, that luxurious exercise when a client actually allows a trainer – oh the bliss! – to speak to the attendees themselves prior to the training in order to accurately gauge their needs, present levels of skill, preferred learning styles, etc.

All this takes time, of course. Time that the client doesn’t really ‘see’. Time that s/he is therefore reluctant to pay for… or even acknowledge the existence of. (Something similar applies to business coaches and writiers, website developers, artwork designers and other professionals.)

“Can’t you just come and, you know, do one of your talks? Can’t I just pay you for that?”

My ‘talks’!? OK, firstly, I’m not an after dinner speaker. I’m a professional training consultant with two degrees and a specialist training qualification. Second, the material that I use in my training did not come to life by itself, by a sort of spontaneous generation; I created it ex nihilo, over a period of time. Third, I have honed my ability to teach adults over the course of years, and through dint of hard work and continuing professional development I have acquired some expertise in the same. All this is what you’re paying for, all this is what lies below the surface and props up the little bit that you see on the day!

I’m tempted to say to such, “If you can do better, go ahead and try.” But the problem is that they would. Try, that is, not succeed. After all, its only giving a talk, isn’t it? Its only for the sake of ticking boxes, isn’t it? Any of your junior HR staff could do it too, couldn’t they? And probably already are…

Respect the Size of the Iceberg

My answer: What happens when you don’t respect the full size of an iceberg? Ask the Titanic!

There are a fair few latter-day ‘titanics’ roaming the commercial waters of Northern Ireland at the moment. They’re enjoying themselves, spending money on relative luxuries, but scrimping on the one thing that really matters – a highly skilled, highly motivated i.e. highly trained workforce.

I suppose there’s something to be said for sinking with dignity. But personally, I think its preferable to acknowledge the real size of the iceberg… and stay afloat!

Image credit: pululante.

Resilience

Since working with Aware Defeat Depression on the Mood Matters programme, I’ve been looking for another opportunity to get involved with a mental health organisation. Recently an opportunity arose for a Sessional Trainer with CAUSE. I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be working with CAUSE on two of their programmes.

Resilience for Carers

This one day course examines our ability to bounce back from setbacks and the impact that resilience and emotional intelligence can have on your role as a carer. Using real life examples, it helps us realise the skills we are currently using and motivates us to build on those to support our caring role.

Carers Course PREP

“The CAUSE Carers course consists of six short lively modular workshops with interactive discussions, guest speakers and information on the fundamentals you need as a carer of someone with a serious mental illness.”

Read more about training for carers at CAUSE.

Resilience Authors

The one of particular interest to me is the Resilience topic, since Sensei already delivers the topic to organisations across Ireland. For me, resilience is best defined using some of the most inspiring thinkers I’ve read:

  • Langer, On Becoming An Artist in which she talks about enjoying the now, without stressing about the outcome
  • Langer, Counterclockwise in which she talks about our society’s distasteful tendency to discard the old and remove all choice from their lives, and shows a better way that alleviates (and sometimes heals) the natural ageing process and fosters happiness at all stages in life
  • Goleman, Emotional Intelligence in which he posits EI as the source of success, contentment and progress in life, relationships, communication and work
  • Seligman, Learned Optimism in which he argues for a conscious route to a more productive, creative life through the discipline of optimistic approach to life

If you’d like to arrange a Resilience workshop for your workplace, contact us.

QUB Management School

We’re delighted to be designing and delivering CPD level modules for QUB’s School of Management’s Short Courses Programmes once again this term. The CPD modules form part of the City and Guilds Professional Recognition Awards.

“Queens University Belfast is an approved Centre to offer the City & Guilds ‘ Professional Recognition Awards (PRA) in Northern Ireland. PRAs have been developed for those at the highest professional levels within their chosen careers and looking for an accredited qualification.

The awards enable candidates to gain recognition for the practical application of professional skills, knowledge and understanding in employment within any sector or role. There are no practical limitations on the areas of employment to which they may be related. They can also offer an employment-based route to higher-level qualifications.”

See our Sensei Calendar page for further information and booking links.

Image credit: fatinraihanna.

No Tyre Kickers!

As an employee, I got sick of incompetence. I got sick of placing myself in departments and organisations where competency was a hazy illusion. Training is often seen as an extra, and if it’s not integrated into the fabric of staff development, customer service and business goals, then it’s better to get out. So, I quit. I quit several times. I swore I’d never work with or for such idiots again. (OK, they weren’t all idiots. I met some people who were interested, really interested, in staff development. But, honestly, they were few and far between.)

Now, as an entrepreneur, business owner, freelance trainer, blogger, coach, writer… etc, etc… I find that it’s not competency or skills or professional development that people are strangers to, but paying for it. Significantly, organisations do not expect to pay (much) for the product I provide.

Here’s what typically happens when you come to me with a project:

  • I think about it, a lot. I research it. I look to my previous experience to see if I’ve done anything similar. I consider my professional training and education, for inspiration. I ask other professionals for their advice. (Allen and I will have a pow-wow; his expertise may be more suited to the project than mine.) This may take up to several days.
  • I contact you to give you a rough estimation of price and schedule. If this sounds OK to you (it invariably does over the phone), we arrange a meeting with you to discuss details. We talk. I listen, a lot. I then ask questions. I make suggestions. I listen to your responses. I ask what the REAL issues are. What problem are you trying to hit? I check your budget. (It’s at this point that the crunch conversation happens. Or at least, I can read your thoughts. “You know… well, we were hoping for something a little… (insert hourly rate well below the minimum wage, if we spread the work over the REAL time it will take to do it, as opposed to your IMAGINERY schedule.)”

Can I just go off on a rant here? I’ve been designing training since I was in my early twenties. I’m now in my mid thirties. Do I know what I’m doing? Yes. Do I know how long it will take? Yes. Do I know how to charge? Yes. So, please don’t tell me “it couldn’t possibly take that long to get a piece of training ready”. “Couldn’t you, you know, just come along and talk?” JUST TALK!

Newsflash – training is not “just talking”.

Incidentally, I regularly have this conversation with developers, graphic designers and others whose time is chargeable. It seems people aren’t willing to pay for someone’s time. Unfortunately, that loaf of Sunblest Veda is still the same price.

Please continue…

  • I go off to write a proposal for you. This takes anything from 2 days to 3 weeks, depending on how much additional research, pricing and investigation is required. (This might involve a second meeting, or more likely another phone-call.)
  • I email you the proposal, asking you to read it and send off any queries or comments.
  • We meet again. (Mr Bond. Oh never mind! :P) We discuss the proposal and any amendments that are required. You agree to get back to me with a decision on whether you want to go ahead.

One of two curious things then happens:

  • You get back to me at the pre-arranged time, with a good-to-go instruction. I’m happy, you’re happy. Everyone’s happy. Or…
  • You do not get back to me. I follow up with a phonecall or email or two. Nothing happens. I begin the wearying process of putting away all the research (kicking myself because all my instincts were telling me this person was gonna waste my time, but I felt obliged to provide a proposal anyhow) and getting on with whatever needs attended to.

I’m getting rather good though at sifting through the tyre kickers*, so if you look like you’re gonna waste my time… you’re not. Gut instinct will take over. If you look like you’re gonna waste my time, then refer to the sentence you read some moments ago.

*If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll know what a tyre kicker is. For those who don’t, if you’ve ever advertised a second-hand car on a website such as Auto-Trader, then grimaced as tyre kickers out for the evening come along to dent your plastic wheel-trims for the sheer heck of it, then you’ll know what I mean.

A Day in the Life of a Trainer

This is a series of humourous blog posts entitled A Day in the Life, mostly drawn from my own experience, and that of other professionals who confess all to me over tea and cake…

06:00 Get up

06:30 Gather materials, laptop

07:00 Leave house

07:05 Return to house for all important memory stick/handouts/suit jacket/phone/pass

07:10 Leave driveway

08:00 Arrive at venue, wait in reception for 25 mins, to be told there is no sesssion, get new directions

08:25 Leave venue (just as session is due to start) and commence driving to alternative site

09:20 5 minutes from new venue, receive (hands-free!) call via mobile to say session is at the original venue

09:55 Arrive back at original venue

09:58 Start session (well, I’m superwoman, ain’t I?), elegantly crawling under desks to plug in, floating delightfully around the room to move desks and chairs, distribute manuals, and rearrange the fearful back to the front, all while simultaneously conducting my introductory session

10:45 Hunt down the nearest mug of Earl Grey and take a long slow gulp

11:00 Deliver first part of session to be told by the attendees that it was not what they were expecting

11:05 Realise organiser has neither talked to attendees as part of their TNA, nor communicated the agreed agenda to them; rage professionally (think: poker face) while simultaneously rearranging content and emphasis, examples and off-the-cuff exercises, discussions, and group-work mid-air; retain all this planning in brain, while delivering current session

13:00 Earn your weight in gold as you charmingly answer all questions related to the topic, including research conducted since 1202, through your questionably lukewarm horse-flavoured lasagne and yummy coleslaw; no, of course you don’t mind talking shop over lunch, it’s what you live for

14:15 Notice the guy at the back who seems to have lost consciousness throughout is actually the office Scrooge, and take others’ apologies for his rudeness and lack of participation as graciously as one can

15:25 Feel smug that the theories, exercises, roleplays, discussions and debates have finally driven home the agenda, and at least two thirds of the class are better at [insert new skills]; continue to be polite to those who behave like wains

16:10 Whinge silently at the one person who will write either nothing at all, or some thinly veiled cryptic comment against management on their happy sheet

16:25 Talk at length with the person who has gained the most of of the day, because you have “changed their outlook/life/attitude/direction” (no, really, we do get such gushees, and it’s lovely, truly)

17:10 Schlep all your stuff out to the car, to begin the journey to the next adventure, physically and mentally exhausted, but happy

Trainers! What are your experiences?

Image credit: aghrivaine.