All posts by Candace Bertotti

Trainer QA

What if a participant claims they don’t have a conversation to work on for their acid test?

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Candace BertottiCandace Bertotti is a Master Trainer.
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Q Sometimes participants say they have no problems to work on. They like everyone and everyone likes them. Not a problem in the world. How can I help them get something out of the training?

A If someone claims not to have any conversations to work on, I’ll go speak with that person one-on-one while others are working and give him or her some ideas. Here are a few questions to trigger some ideas for them:

  • Any relatives that annoy you (siblings, in-laws, kids, cousins, etc.)? Any touchy issues at home? Do you volunteer or belong to a church—if so, any tough issues there? Any issues ever come up with your neighbors that you wish you handled differently? Any relationship that you wish was closer?
  • Have you ever had a conversation that you know could have gone better? It didn’t have to be extreme, but you know there was room for improvement. Use that example and come up with how you could have handled it differently.
  • If you were to go have dinner with your colleagues after work, what would you complain about?

If none of these questions help, I find that sometimes the idea of speaking up—or having a problem-free life—can be a strong part of someone’s identity. Thus, for a participant to admit the need for improvement in an area is to imply some crack in his or her identity. I try to let these participants off the hook a bit and say, “I’m sure you speak your mind and it sounds like you do it often and effectively. Consider this course as an opportunity for you to become even better at it—to take your already great skills up a notch.” Invite them to consider one place in their life where they could get even better results.

Trainer QA

Is it ever appropriate to move to silence?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candace BertottiCandace Bertotti is a Master Trainer.
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Q Is it ever appropriate to move to silence?

A The first question to ask yourself is, “Is this conversation crucial?” If the stakes aren’t high (someone was rude, but you’ll never see them again), emotions aren’t strong (sure you disagree, but you’re not upset or that passionate about it), or there are no opposing opinions (it may be a touchy issue, but you’re all in agreement), then silence may be an appropriate course of action. That said, know that your silence communicates something, and by not speaking up, you inherently give other people the power to determine your meaning rather than stating it clearly yourself.

If the conversation is crucial, then what?

If you find that your motive for speaking up is not healthy, your negative emotions are controlling you, you lack respect for someone, and/or you don’t feel safe, it may be appropriate to move to silence—but only temporarily while you take a quick step back. Be careful not to use this “pause” as an excuse to sweep the problem under the rug or venture down a road of paralyzing analysis and unending preparation. Taking an hour or two to collect your thoughts, connecting to a healthy motive, finding a way to respect the other person’s dignity, and/or finding a private space to talk can make a big difference. Your opinion that someone else is an idiot is better left unsaid. Starting a dialogue about working better together with that same person in a private, safe space is essential.

Trainer QA

What if participants don’t like the term “violence” being used in the training?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candace BertottiCandace Bertotti is a Master Trainer.
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Q There have been occasions when participants have reacted strongly to the use of the term “violence” in the training as they perceive that term as having the meaning of physical force or intense emotional abuse. How would you address this when it comes up?

A I address this one right in the beginning—in the debriefing of the “How Did You Get Your Way?” quick-start activity. I say that one of the claims that the training makes is that there is a continuum of communication. On one end is what we call “silence”—where you’re not speaking up and saying what you need to be effective. On the other end is something we call “violence”—and I quickly make this disclaimer: I don’t personally like this word. But what helped me, was to realize that we don’t mean physical violence here. What we mean is verbal aggression—this is the opposite end of the continuum from silence. And it rhymes with silence—silence and violence, so it makes a nice package for us to remember. If I need to I might even say “violence in this context doesn’t mean throwing a punch—it just means the extreme opposite of silence.”

Then after I show the first example of a “violence” video (Brittany and Rick or Jackie and Rick—the third video in the series), I ask them when the video is over, “If you could put a name to Brittany’s/Jackie’s strategy, what would you call it?”—People answer with things like “aggression,” “overly assertive,” “lose-your-job-fast”—and then I say “we call this “violence.” If you’d like to call it something else, go right ahead, but for this training, this is an example of what I’ll be referring to as violence.” I find that if you admit the word is extreme (and it is—it’s the opposite end of the continuum) and allow participants to call it something else if they want—that negates potential push-backs.