Evan Hackel

By Evan Hackel

Coaching People to Move through Discomfort

Coaching People to Move through Discomfort 150 150 Evan Hackel

In a webinar that Anthony Amos gave for us at Tortal Training, he made a comment that we’ve been thinking about ever since . . .

“Good training coaches people to move through discomfort.”

The more we think about that comment, the more we realize how wise Anthony is.  After all, discomfort is one of the main reasons people silently resist training . . .

  • Sales trainees learn your company’s strategies and scripts for structured selling . . . but some never admit that they feel uncomfortable about “asking for the buy” and closing sales.
  • Some mature trainees who are returning to the workforce might be reluctant to admit that they feel insecure about using new technologies.
  • Executives in your leadership training programs take part in workshops that encourage them to work closely with other departments . . . but some of them secretly feel defensive about sharing too much information with the heads of other divisions.
  • Some of the phone representatives who you are training to make cold sales calls never admit they hate to pick up the phone and call people they don’t know.

Dealing with Discomfort 

Before you can overcome discomfort, you have to find ways to uncover where it lies.  Here are some effective ways:

  • Start asking for “mood feedback” as soon as training begins. Asking a question like, “everybody good with that?” or, “anybody got a problem with that?” consistently through training can set up an atmosphere that encourages trainees to open up about any areas of discomfort. If you keep the mood lighthearted and fun, trainees will be more likely to say what is on their minds.
  • Anticipate and deal with possible “hot button” issues when designing your training. If you think about who your trainees are and what you would like them to learn, you can often identify areas of discomfort ahead of time and teach to them.

Effective Coaching Techniques for Areas of Discomfort 

  • Use simulations. If a trainee for a calling center job says that she fears having to deal with angry customers, let her handle two or three simulated calls from dissatisfied customers. (Other trainees can play the part of the callers.) Once she sees that she can handle those calls well, she will gain the confidence she needs.
  • Use videos in your training. If you can show employees dealing with situations or issues that you expect will cause trainees to feel discomfort on the job, you can proactively train employees to perform better.
  • Let trainees break into small sub-groups to discuss what they are learning. Trainees who are reluctant to air fears or concerns before a room full of other trainees are often willing to share their feelings in small groups of their peers. One good technique is to ask each group to appoint a leader to collect comments and then report them to the entire training class.
  • Consider using anonymous feedback. You can ask trainees to anonymously write down their areas of discomfort on index cards, or have them text the training leader. Once those comments are collected, your trainer can talk about them openly with the entire group.
  • Be respectful of trainees’ feelings. You want to keep the mood light but resist the temptation to poke fun at trainees’ fears. If a trainee opens up about something that is on his or her mind – something that is a concern – part of a trainer’s job is to discuss the issue respectfully and carefully.
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