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....and many other thoughts about facilitation, coaching ( teams & individuals) and learning


  • David

Reaction to the mis-behaviour in class

Updated: Mar 5, 2022

Recently, there are 2 occasions which educated me how I should (or should not) react when participants mis-behave.

Here is the first incident. I was asked to conduct a presentation class in Shanghai for a group of graduate trainees in the company. Only 2 out of 7 arrived at 0900 when the course is supposed to start. I was already quite unhappy with it. At 0930, all had arrived but one disappeared after leaving his bag in the training room. I was very upset. I know that my emotion showed as I stood in front of them saying nothing. Frankly, I was very close to do something more radical – I almost threw his bag out of the training room and locked the door. I did not do it at the end. That participant returned a few more minutes later and we formally started the class.

As the class went, I realized that they are good participants. They were eager to learn. They asked good questions and tried to apply the skills we covered. Ironically, I did see the strong learning attitude from the participant who had left the bag behind. I could not imagine what would happen if I did throw the bag away and locked the room. The learning atmosphere must be ruined for the whole day!!!

The second incident took place in the class I attended as a participant in Singapore. I was 100% committed to learn from the class, not only the content pe se but also the facilitation skills from the 2 Master Trainers. On day 3, I finished my lunch early in order to send out a few urgent emails in the hotel room. As there was some 15 minutes left, I lay down to rest a bit. I was very tired on that day after the night out with Victor and Elroy! And then the worse thing for a trainer happened - I overslept and was late to the class for ½ hour.

When I ran and entered the training room, I was embarrassed to death!! I was embarrassed to the fellow participants, to the Master Trainers and to myself as well. I have been telling to the others how disturbing to be late in class, but now I ... sigh....

I have a few learning from the above 2 incidents:

NEVER, never be emotional in class - Showing emotion simply ruins the learning atmosphere for all the participants, including those who has or has not mis-behaved. It just violates the very purpose of having the training course i.e. to make people learn;

People with good intention - Most people come to the class to learn. And even stepping back a bit, when everyone wake up in the morning, we all want to do a good job on that day. Very rarely people want to have a bad day by arguing with the others or upsetting the others by being late;

Be understanding - Further to the last point, there are often other reasons why people mis-behave in class, especially after you made the ground rule clear to all. This could be work overload, a 'disturbing' boss, a family requiring lot of attention. Before you pass any negative feedback to a participant, check with him / her first during the break

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