July 16, 2007

When "yes" means "no"

Have you ever been in a situation where you've told or shown someone how to do something, and they've said they understood you but kept doing it wrong anyway?

Speakers are often in the position of training or of demonstrating something to a group. You might find this more difficult if you're not aware of the cultural differences between you and some of your participants.

One issue you might face in a training situation is a trainee who comes from a culture where challenging or questioning authority figures is considered inappropriate behavior. By acknowledging that they don't understand you, they would essentially be questioning your ability, telling you that you're a bad teacher. So, rather than offend you, they continue to say that they understand.

This is just one example of why it it's a good idea to have your trainees demonstrate back to you any skills you've taught. Be careful not to single anyone out or put them on the spot, but by asking the whole group to repeat the procedure or task that you've just taught them, you can see who's picking it up and who's not.

Then, as you make your way around the room, talking to individuals, you can discreetly help those who are having a harder time without embarrassing them in front of the whole group.

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