Respecting the Learner


Most learners enter the process with a little bit of trepidation. They are unsure whether the training they are going to undertake is what they need; unsure whether they can do well in it or not; unsure of their own success; even unsure whether they are smart enough to learn. All that uneasy feeling of being unsure is one of their worst enemies.

Take that person, with all their insecurities, and plop them into a learning environment with a group of people they’ve never seen before. They’ll be wondering if they can even breathe right, let alone give the trainer the right answer when they’re called on. If there’s anything different about them, such as speaking with an accent, a slight disability, or even wearing thick glasses, and their insecurity meter can burst right through the roof.

That’s why respect is such an important part of any training process. We must be willing to accept that differences are good. It doesn’t do any good to just accept that in some sort of superficial way, we’ve got to accept it deep down within our souls. If we as trainers can’t truly believe that each individual is valuable as a person, with all their idiosyncrasies and differences, there’s no way that we’re going to help them feel good about themselves, the training they’re receiving and their ability to succeed.

It’s a long known fact that attitude has more to do with success than aptitude. Many of the world’s most successful people are so, not for their talent or intelligence, but because of their attitude. They determined that they were winners, and they lived like winners. When others saw them, they saw them as winners too. Guess what? They became winners.

We have the opportunity to instill that attitude into every learner we come into contact with. But, it all starts with respect. We respect the individual for who they are, warts and all. Not only do we respect them, but we let them know that we respect them. That will help them to respect themselves, which is the first step towards developing a winning attitude.

Imaging a 50 year old widow, who has never worked outside the home, coming to your training. She’s surrounded by young learners who are full of energy and enthusiasm. They haven’t yet learned that they don’t own the world; but she has. They haven’t learned that it takes more than a sling and a stone to kill most giants; but she has. They haven’t learned their own limitations; but she has. How would she feel being 20 or 30 years older than everyone else in the training session?

You see, respecting that woman for taking the bold step to get some training at her age can make the difference between her success and her failure. But, it’s not just her. The same thing applies to every learner that you come into contact with. They all have their story; they all have their past; they all have their problems. Some are obvious and others aren’t; but they’re all there. What are you going to do to show them you believe in them?