Recently Bruce Maples wrote about how to remain calm when the same person has asked the same question for the third time during a training session.

He suggested placing yourself in the student’s place, putting the whole situation in context, and being aware of your own hot buttons. TechRepublic members took several deep breaths and then wrote to us, telling us the trials of patience they’ve endured and how they’ve kept their cool.
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Read my lips: Pay attention!
Kenneth M. said Bruce’s article made him think about his lack of patience when a person asks a question and then doesn’t follow the directions in the answer. He said he tries to be calm and explicit.

“When I tell them, for instance, to right-click on something and they left-click on it with the response of ‘See, it doesn’t do it!’ That really gets my goat. Thanks for your hints about overcoming things like that.”

A really big stick
One TechRepublic member once worked as a trainer for the Army and had a much stronger motivation tool than most instructors do.

This member wrote: “There is no easy way to deal with a student that is trying your patience. Although as a military instructor, I had more influence on most of my students’ lives (military punishment), I still had to get the student to understand the material being presented.

“The best way I found to handle a student that was trying my patience was to tell the student in a firm tone that I would see them after class and deal with whatever the trouble was at that time. This worked with military students and civilians alike. In the time I taught, only two students failed, one didn’t care and the other was just too old.”

No, really, I do want you to learn something today
Abby is an instructor who wonders if there are times that patience is not the best response, and how to handle those situations. Sometimes students can be rude and push you too far, but Abby maintained her cool when a student in a two-day class kept surfing the Internet and reading and sending e-mails instead of following the lesson.

“Of course he always missed the last exercise we did and would ask me to go over it again. I was very annoyed but didn’t let it show. The next day I spoke to him privately and asked him if the class was interfering with his schedule because he seemed to be trying to do his job and take the class at the same time. I said that I was concerned and wanted him to benefit from the class. He seemed embarrassed and he said that there was no way the class wouldn’t interfere with his schedule. He apologized and said that I was a good instructor. He didn’t stop me to go over material he had missed for the rest of the class.

“I felt that ‘putting a deposit in his emotional bank account’ was more effective that berating him for being on the Internet during my class.”

It takes all kinds
Everyone learns in a different way and trainers must remember that when presenting a class. While lecturing may work for some people, hands-on experience may be the only way to communicate ideas to others.

Larry S. said that many of the classes he has taught over the years have been one-and-a-half to two-hour long classes in which the trainer is expected to get the masses to fully understand and use a product intelligently. The classes had a mix of individuals, both in terms of motivation and learning ability.

“Spending more than an allotted amount of time on any portion of the class to cope with one or two slow and inquisitive individuals shortchanges all of the others. I’m always constantly striving to improve the presentation so that the concepts come across quickly and easily, then observe and deal with those who didn’t comprehend after the class.

“We are all different and what seems simple and straightforward to one may be confusing to another. Varied examples from different points of view are often needed to reach everyone. But those who didn’t want to be there in the first place and question the validity of everything still get to me.”

Thanks for all your suggestions and be sure to keep writing.