Handling Opinionated Participants

Opinionated Participants

Some participants during training may have a heightened need for recognition. They may seek such recognition through various means. Sometimes they try to argue or forcefully impose their own opinions or what they think is correct. The trainer should be aware of such type of behavior and deal with it wisely in order to preserve a pleasant atmosphere in the training room and not fall into the trap of draining out the trainer’s mental and emotional energy.


Rather than arguing with a trainee who is trying to forcefully impose his own opinion and trying to impose it on everyone in the training room, the trainer should try to absorb such vigorous energy from such participant and even provide him with the recognition and assurance he needs since it is the original source behind his forceful behavior.


One way a trainer can achieve this is by acknowledging what such participant has just been saying and thus providing him with the recognition he needs. The trainer can do so by:

  1. Simply repeating what the participant has been saying and even thanking him for his ‘great’ contribution.¬†The trainer can start this by saying: “Your colleague’s opinion is …”.
  2. The trainer may also paraphrase the participant’s words thus giving the participant even extra assurance that the trainer has fully comprehended and digested what the participant has been saying.
  3. The trainer may even go a step further and draw a simple diagram on the whiteboard or the flip chart representing the opinion of such participant.
  4. The trainer may even just write down what that participant had been saying or a one sentence summary of it on the whiteboard or flip chart.

This simple process of writing down what the participant has said in front of everyone else would provide him with an enormous feeling of satisfaction and all the recognition he had been seeking. This might lead to him not attempting to force his opinion again during the whole training session or even during the rest of the training course.

By simply acknowledging the opinions of participants who have a heightened need for recognition a trainer can manage to maintain a serine positive atmosphere in the training room and make even the most opinionated participants satisfied.

Have you witnessed an opinionated participant steaming in his opinion during a training session before? How did the trainer deal with the situation? To how extend was the trainer’s approach successful in handling the opinionated participant?


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