*Read through the below or listen to the audio.
Communication can be transferred between two people in many ways. The first one we will deal with is ‘non verbal’ communication.
There is a lot of emphasis on the learner learning, but there has to be some attention given by the trainer to their own observation as to how that learning is taking place. There are some vital clues that the trainer can miss, such as listening and watching the student responses. The trainer has to deal more in emotions. Very often if something ‘doesn’t feel right’ then often it isn’t.
An example of this could be a random phone call that you receive from an organisation that you have not heard of, telling you that you have an account with them. The first thing that enters your mind is, ‘Can I deal with this now?’ The second is that uncertain feeling of trusting your memory and recollecting the dealings with the company. There is a feeling of apprehension if the phone call is actually from a genuine source, the organisation may have changed name and you haven’t paid attention to the emails or the mail, or the impending information may be what you don’t want to hear about this account, if, indeed, it exists.
The word ‘feeling’ is used extensively above, but not as a physical touch, but a wave of emotion. With experiencing this emotion, body language is created, and if you could ever film yourself from a distance taking a call in private, you will see gestures, expressions and change in voice pitches. These are natural responses – you don’t have to think about them, but in fact it is a language of its own that describes, happiness, sadness, apprehension and anxiety. Your students emit these characteristics too when they are learning with you. Their characteristics will not be identical because they will have different family traits that will be passed down from previous generations, but there should be some similarities.
These actions are known as ‘non-verbal communication’. The phrases they say accompanies a phrase that they show, but what is said, may not be what is shown. This is why we have to occasionally use the question ‘What did you feel about that…..’ The words may not reflect the actions and this could mean that the student has received a mixed message, like information from you that they have not perceived in the correct context and are showing anxiety or perhaps confusion.
Why can the confusion take place?
It could be because the student’s own values of how a task should be achieved is set by what they have witnessed throughout their life so far. So we are now talking about outside influences from parents, family and friends. Quite often, when training you may hear, ‘my Dad says that you should slow down using the gears to save the brakes’. Well, if Dad was taught before the late 80’s, then that was probably what he was taught to do, using vehicles and technology of that day. So, when you tell them that we don’t do that anymore, then you are inferring that their Dad is wrong, and that hurts.
So, influences and inferences can be a problem to us. This will cause body language that might hint on ‘How dare you!’ You have now challenged the student’s belief and shattered their world of trusting in Dad. The student’s body language will show confusion because you are about to undo what they always thought was right and this is known as the ‘subjective norm’.
This is the process where someone keeps doing the same action by rote because they have only ever been told, ‘we do it this way’. This is very common in factory line production. The machine operator is told what each knob and switch does to produce whatever that machine is supposed to produce or append to something else – and that’s it. It’s that way or no way! There is no understanding of the bigger picture. The process that is carried out on this machine is a skill level task only. And if that process is carried out as shown, then you have the correct result for that task, so the operator doesn’t question it.
Going back to the example of Dad changing gear, the student has a subjective norm that gears are used for slowing because they have been told this by authority. In their mind that is it. So, how do they move on and discover other ways. The answer is only if there is a negative result, for example the equipment becomes redundant and new training has to take place, or they have an accident. This is where body language will be most prevalent – at a time that challenges their past influences and beliefs.