Training someone who doesn’t listen, pay attention or ignores your instructions can be frustrating. Instead of just talking, take a different approach. To motivate your listeners, use enthusiasm, share personal stories, maintain eye contact and keep your instructions simple.
By making your subject more interesting and conveying more authority, you can inspire people to succeed. To ensure that people understand what you say, provide opportunities for them to ask questions.
Handle Insubordination According to Company Policy
Handle insubordination according to your company’s policies and procedures. For example, use verbal warnings and written warnings to discipline a person who doesn't listen to your instructions. Make every effort to communicate with him. Refusal to act may result from a simple misunderstanding or fear of personal safety.
Present a Clear Message
Present a clear message so the person will pay attention. While you can’t make someone listen, you can take steps to make your message more compelling. Begin your training session by stating the learning objectives that indicate what the participant should be able to do upon completion. Ask for a commitment to eliminating distractions such as instant messages, phone calls and email during the training session.
Ensure all participants have the prerequisite skills to take the current training course, an send anyone who lacks the skills and knowledge to participate to remedial training.
Ask the Person to Explain their Reluctance to Participate
Ask a person who appears not to listen to you to define her reluctance to participate in your training session. Paraphrase her answer and repeat back to her what she said to show that you understand her objection. Once you see her point of view, you may be able to remove the obstacles preventing her listening effectively. Acknowledge disagreements.
Convey Optimism and Respect
Diffuse conflict by ensuring that your voice tone, word choices and body language reflect your intent to convey training material, not judge or punish a person. Become a leader who others want to follow by conveying optimism and respect. Take responsibility for teaching and ask that the other person take responsibility for learning. Stress cooperation and collaboration in the learning activity, not competition or punitive action.
Treat People with Respect and Dignity
Recognize cultural differences by treating people you train with respect and dignity. Communicate persuasively with people from other cultures by using their customs. For example, in Japan, address people by adding the suffix “san,” meaning Mr. or Mrs., to a family name.
- Dealing with Difficult People: How to Deal with Nasty Customers, Demanding Bosses and Annoying Co-Workers; Roberta Cava
- Beyond Intractability: Communication Tools for Understanding Cultural Differences
- HBR: Coaching an Employee Who Doesn’t Want Help
- Mind Tools: Dealing With People Who Don’t Listen!
- Inc: 17 Reasons People Aren't Listening to You
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.