Tip #969:  How to Handle Negative Participant Attitudes- Part One

There are many reasons why participants can have a negative attitude when they come to a training session, including the fact that the training program is either: (1) mandatory or                         (2) repetitive.

When faced with these situations, the trainer should acknowledge the participants’ concerns then refocus them on something more constructive.

  1. Mandatory Training: No one likes to be forced to do something.

In this case, the trainer should be prepared with an activity that will encourage participant buy-in to the value of the program. For example:

     (a)     Mark Ups.  Have the participants individually identify, mark and report a few learning objectives of particular value to them.

     (b)    Benefits Question. Divide the group into two groups to brainstorm the benefits of the training. Have them post their answers and report out at the end of the brainstorming time.

  1. Repetitive Training. Sometimes the training is repetitive because of legal or recertification requirements.

In this case, the trainer should adapt the training content to accommodate the participants’ needs and take advantage of participant expertise. For example:

    (a)     Problem Solving.  Ask the participants to identify problems or issues that they are facing in relation to the learning content. Next, either direct a large discussion of each item or have small groups work to determine possible workarounds or solutions for an item relevant to them, which they then report out to the larger group.

   (b)    Challenge Activities.  Bring work problems and case studies that will challenge the participants to achieve higher levels of learning, such as analysis, evaluation or creation.

   (c)     Seed Expertise.  Have more seasoned participants sit with groups of less seasoned participants to coach them to the correct answers.

  (d)    Co-Facilitation.  Ask the more seasoned participants to be ready to provide information and examples from the field when necessary.

Ideally, trainers should be aware of possible participant concerns prior to a training program and plan for them accordingly. However, unanticipated participant resistance to training may surprise even the best and most prepared trainers. In these situations, it is helpful for trainers to know what learning activities they can use to minimize or possibly even avoid the adverse impact of the participants’ negative attitudes

If you would like to know how to handle other training situations that can generate negative participant attitudes, follow me on LinkedIn.

May your learning be sweet- and safe,


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