Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Dealing With Challenging Behaviour

A question I always get asked during Train the Trainer is how to deal with challenging behaviour. There will be times when all trainers experience testing behaviour and not only those dealing with difficult clients where you might expect it, like dysfunctional teenagers and long-term unemployed. Challenging behaviour can come from the most unexpected source. For example, you might be delivering a training session to some of your colleagues and someone you regard perhaps as a good friend, decides to be the joker of the group. It’s impossible to foresee these situations, the knack is knowing what to do when they arise and, if at all possible, prevent them before they happen or have the opportunity to escalate.

Body Language
Body Language might well be your first ‘weapon’ of choice. Raised eyebrows, a frown, even a smile to indicate you know that they are tempted will deter the majority of learners from imminent misdemeanour.

Some situations can be dealt with using humour, although not in a sarcastic way. But when the situation has defused, speak to them on a one-to-one basis and let them know their behaviour is unacceptable.

Know the Disciplinary Procedure
It’s always a good idea to be familiar with the organisation’s disciplinary procedure and apply it as necessary. If you are dealing with the same group on a regular basis, the fact that a member of that group has been issued with a written warning usually spreads like wildfire and will often work as a deterrent to others. Nobody wants to be dismissed from a training programme.

Avoid Confrontation
Don’t allow yourself to get into big arguments. It’s better to just send them out of the training room if possible and deal with the situation when the learner (and you) has cooled off and the rest of the group is working on a task. Even the nicest groups can relish the trainer versus learner scenario, especially teenagers who are very sheep-like, where one dominant personality goes, the rest will follow.

Speak to your Colleagues
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Every trainer will struggle with a situation at some time and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Quite often, you will not be alone in experiencing problems with certain learners and it can be reassuring to find out that other staff members have found certain trainees a handful. They might even have a strategy that works.

Don’t Dwell on a Bad Training Session
Most importantly, don’t dwell on bad training sessions or take them personally. Afterwards, decide what you could have done to make things better and how you would try to prevent it happening again. The key is to learn from it and move on. Don’t mention the problem the next time you see the group. Start afresh and don’t bear a grudge, if they are teenagers you will find they change with the wind and more often than not, will have forgotten by the next time you see them.

You can learn more about dealing with challenging behaviour on our 2-day Train the Trainer course. Visit our website for further details.