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.

Conclusion

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?

Advertisements

Think and Listen

I had read about the think and listen technique in the past in a PDF document that I had stumbled upon online. It was a technique used in meetings aimed at community building and working collaboratively for activism.

Productive Meetings

I then later set out to try it out during delivering a training session about productive meetings. The think and listen technique turned out to be a great success. I used it once again during delivering another productive meetings workshop to a different group of participants with tremendous results. I then started using it regularly during my training programs for various things.

Procedure

Here is how the think and listen technique works:

  1. Have participants seated in a continuous circle or U-shape.
  2. Go in turn giving each participant a number in sequence starting from #1. Start with participants on your left side.
  3. Ask participants with odd numbers to raise their hands.
  4. Now ask those with even numbers to raise their hands.
  5. Ask those with odd numbers to turn their chairs slightly to the left side and to look to their left sides.
  6. Ask participants with even numbers to turn their chairs slightly to the right side and look to their right.

Participants will find themselves being paired with one another! They will start smiling and speaking to one another.

Now explain to them how the think and listen technique is carried out and the benefits of doing it such as practicing the all important listening skills.

  1. Now ask participants with odd numbers to start speaking to their colleagues about a specific topic you had specified.
  2. Participants with even numbers must keep completely silent and only listen to their colleagues.
  3. This can continue for 2 minutes.
  4. You then ask participants to switch roles allowing participants with even numbers to speak, about the same topic, while those with odd numbers must now listen while keeping silent.
  5. After another 2 minutes, you signal to participants to stop speaking.

Go Round

A fast round of go round should follow the think and listen activity. Each participant in the circle takes a turn to select and mention to the whole class one and only one of the many points he had just mentioned to the colleague he was paired with.

Documenting

An optional step would be to write down what participants are saying in points on the flip chart. You can even ask one of the participants to do the writing. If one of the points is repeated, a check point can be added next to the point that has already been written. When the round of go round has finished the technique now has completed.

Uses

The think and listen technique can be used for a variety of purposes such as collecting problems facing participants at work, gathering their expectations at the beginning of the training or asking them to state what they would be doing differently at work having attended the training.

Where else other then meetings and training sessions do you believe the think and listen technique can be successfully used?