Handling Negative Trainee Self Labeling

It is important to maintain a positive atmosphere throughout the training sessions and prevent trainees from falling into negative self labeling.

Individual Negative Self Labeling

For instance let’s say you ask a participant to carry out a specific activity and this participant thinks that it is too difficult for him and that he will not be able to do it. The moment this participant voices out his negative belief about himself and his abilities, or lack thereof, is the moment when he actually disables himself from carrying out the activity they trainer has asked him to carry out. The participant might say something like: “I cannot do it,” “I will not be able to do it,” “it is impossible for me to do it,” or “no way I will be able to do it.”

The trainer in such a case can remedy this negative form of self labeling by quickly asking the participant to say: “I can do it.” The trainer should say to the participant: “Say: ‘I can do it’.” The trainer should say such words with energy, vitality and strong enthusiasm showing belief in them. If the trainee is not convinced and does not want to repeat the positive words after the trainer the trainer should ask him again to do so and push him to say the positive words. If the trainee repeats the words but without vigor the trainer should repeat them again with strong enthusiasm and ask the trainee to do the same.

Negative Group Labeling

Even more dangerous than negative self labeling is negative group labeling. This is when a participant negatively labels a whole group of participants by saying: “we can’t do it” or “it is impossible for us.” This case should be dealt with by the trainer in a similar fashion to the case of negative self labeling by also instructing the trainee to repeat after him positive words with vigor.

One way to protect against negative group labeling before it even happens is to inform participants that all participants in previous groups you have trained were able to successfully carry out the activity you are asking them to do. This piece of information not only motivates them but breaks any negative beliefs they might have about the possibility of carrying out such an activity.

It is the duty of the trainer to insure a positive atmosphere throughout the training sessions by preventing negative self and group labeling and even protecting against it whenever possible.

Have you ever witnessed someone or yourself performing negative self labeling and not being able to perform right after that? Tell us about it.


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