Listening Skills of the Trainer

Listening Skills of Trainees and Trainer

In many soft skills training programs, such as communication skills training, the trainer works on developing the listening skills of trainees through various training activities one of which is the think and listen technique. It is even more essential that a trainer himself have exceptional communication skills on top of which are superior listening skills in order to perform well during any training program he is delivering.

Great listening skills are not a luxury but they are skills that any competent trainer cannot afford to do without. A competent trainer would make use of his exceptional listening skills in many occasions.

Buffering Multiple Trainee Questions

When a trainee asks a question then a second trainee asks another question and then a third asks yet another two or more questions a trainer with good listening skills would be able to listen to all those questions first and then start answering them in one go. This buffering of several questions in a row in the mind of the trainer allows him to link the answers of related questions with one another and provide the big picture in one continuous answer.

Sure providing such a combined answer for multiple trainee questions needs superior listening skills from the trainer. Using such question buffering technique also displays to participants the greatness of the trainer and the high professional level he has reached making them put even more trust in him and show even greater respect for him.

Absorbing the Agitated Trainee

Another case where superior listening skills would prove handy to the trainer is when one of the trainees attempts to provide a long passionate comment expressing his own opinion with vigor aiming at refuting something the trainer or another participant has been saying. If the trainer in such a case attempts to cut such participant short prematurely the trainee might become highly dissatisfied, may even hold a grudge, carry strong negative emotions and demonstrate a negative attitude throughout the rest of the training.

If, however, the trainer allowed such trainee to speak his heart out, while carefully listening to him and mentally analyzing what he is saying, the trainer would be able to let the steam out from such participant. This containment of the agitated trainee by the trainer can even result in highly positive emotions building up in the heart of that participant, towards the trainer and the training as a whole, which may show up by the end of the training program.

After such trainee has completed his long and passionate comment, the trainer can then start giving his comment on it in a calms and to-the-point manner. This would never have been possible had the trainer lacked superior listening skills.


Listening skills are one of the most important communication skills that a trainer must master way before attempting to improve them in his or her trainees.

What other training situations can you think of in which a trainer would benefit from having strong listening skills?


Agitated Trainee Leaves the Training Room

What if a trainee leaves the training room in protest against the will of the trainer? If such rare case happens such trainee is clearly the looser.

Keep your Calm

The trainer should just leave him get out of the room without jumping to him in an attempt to make him stay. The trainer should also not ask nor encourage the colleagues of such outraged trainee to attempt to go out after him asking him to stay or come back. The trainer should handle such a situation very calmly and with full confidence. The trainer should act as if nothing major has happened and continue the training session normally guarding against showing any stress in his tone of voice or actions.


What happens next is that the trainer has all the rest of the trainees with him in the training room all engaged listening to the trainer or carrying out lively training activities while the protesting trainee that had left the room in protest is by himself. Probably that annoyed trainee would not leave the building but would just be staying outside the training room.

At first, he might be thinking that his colleagues or even the trainer himself would rush after him and try to calm him down and ask him to come back again to the training room. Finding that none of this takes place and that his supposedly disruptive action has not resulted in the collapse of the training session such participant feels a great sense of sorrow and deep disappointment. He is there all by himself while the rest of his colleagues are all together and are with the trainer deeply engaged with him. Such a protesting trainee would feel as if he is in a kind of solitary confinement that he has imposed on his own self.


During the break, his colleagues may attempt to provide condolence to him finding him in a deep state of sorrow after having been highly agitated and outraged. In such broken state the trainer may speak to such a trainee and allow him to rejoin them in the training room if he so wishes.

This case of having one of the participants leave the room abruptly in protest and in a state of outrage without excusing himself first from the trainer is pretty rare yet a trainer should have the confidence and ability to deal with such a situation if ever it shows up.

Have you ever witnessed an angry participant during a meeting, training session or lecture? Tell us what happened.

Overcoming Trainee Resistance

Sometimes you, the trainer, want to give one of the trainees an instruction but feel that that trainee would show a great deal of resistance following such instruction.

Side Talkers

For instance let’s say one of the participants is showing a great deal of side talks and disrupting the training process. Let’s say you want to ask such a participant to move from his current seat to another one at the opposite side of the room to break his disrupting side talks with his colleagues. If you order him directly to move from his current place he may take it personally, get offended and show a great deal of resistance in following your instruction.

One way for dealing with such a situation can be to first ask a different trainee to change her place then ask the trainee with the disrupting behavior to change his place. By seeing one or more trainees first obeying your instruction, the difficult trainee would show very low resistance or even no resistance at all in following suit and obeying your instruction as well. It is as if you have set a pattern in the training room which would be normal for everyone to follow.

Shy Participants

This technique can be used not only with difficult participants who are showing disruptive behavior but it can also be used with shy trainees who are very reluctant or highly resistant to following some of your instructions for them to do something. For instance let’s say one of the participants in a team is shy and does not want to present the findings of his team. You can start by asking other members of his team first to come and present then ask the shy participant to come and present too after that.

By setting a pattern through asking participants whom you feel would obey your instructions first it makes it way easier to ask other more resistive participants to follow suit and do the same as their colleagues.

In what other ways do you think one can deal with resistance in trainees?