As in any situation where a larger group of individuals are involved in an activity you will find a specific few personalities tend to crop up and being aware of how to handle these ones will ensure no issues will arise.
The bubbly chatty individual who is always ready to take the lead in any group activities, likes to be the centre of attention, answer questions and give their point of view. They can create an air of enthusiasm but be sure that they don’t overshadow the quieter ones in the group maybe say something like: “I really appreciate your contribution, but let’s hear from some other people…”
The day dreamer, they have their head in the clouds and appear to have no idea as to what is happening around them. This usually ends up with them giving input which is totally unrelated to the discussed topic, for these one you can say: “something may have led you off track. What I was trying to say was …”
Although these ones do know what is going on their contributions are often in the form of examples and analogies that are not linked in any way with what has been said, they prefer to go along with their own line of thinking, they can be helped by maybe asking: “I do not understand. How does this relate to what we have been talking about?”
These ones challenge any authority shown, they will even display some form of hostility maybe by discrediting your skills and knowledge. It is best not to allow yourself to become involved in an argument with these ones but maybe try saying: “I understand and appreciate your point of view. What do the rest of you think?” if this does not work maybe suggest this issue could be resolved in the next break.
These participants are hard-headed, refusing to even acknowledge others points of view, only thinking themselves to be in the right. This can make it difficult to conduct group activities so the direct approach may be the best: “I appreciate your point of view on this matter, but for the sake of the activity I will have to insist that we move on and will be very happy to discuss this further later on.”
They blend into the crowd, usually being rather shy and they are very focussed and conscientious. With the ‘louder’ participants they more than often do not get a chance to share their ideas and get involved into activities. A good way to get them to open up is to break the class into pairs or trios where they may feel more comfortable. Another way to get them to contribute and receive validation is by simply saying: “(Persons name), I know you have some experience in this area. I would be helpful if you share your thought with the group.”
The know-it-all participants can be very frustrating to deal with. They usually think themselves vastly more knowledgeable than the trainer and other learners in any subject. The take advantage of any chance to show off their knowledge by use of facts and figures, using big words and can cause great annoyance to all. Recognize their point of view and try suggesting: “that’s one point of view but there are many ways of looking at it.”
Although laughter and jokes can make everyone feel at ease, there are some participants who like to make a joke out of everything even at the expense of others in order to get attention. If not dealt with immediately, these ones can tend to take over. Just say: “we all enjoy having a little fun, but right now we need to get serious and focus on the topic at hand.”
In anything said or done by the negative individual will be complaining about work, their boss, co-workers. Their body language and attitude will be defensive and usually have nothing positive to contribute to the discussion. You can either say: “I understand your point of view. What suggestions do you have to change the situation?” or you might try, “ for the sake of the discussion, what might be some arguments for the opposite point of view?”
These ones do not want to be in session and make it known. They have no interest in trying to be part of the class, show no interest mostly likely as they have been forced to participate. Try asking of them: “I know you have some experience in this area. Please tell us about it.”
Now knowing the variety of personalities you will find in your program you may find some in the group do not get along. Discussions may become heated and remarks become personal and unkind. These situations must be addressed immediately: “I suggest that we keep personalities out of the discussion and get back to the subject at hand.
Participants may strike up a friendship and become involved in their own conversation whilst a discussion in process. This often happens and can be annoying and distracting to the trainer and the participants. You can either walk up to them which may stop them talking or if that does not work try saying: “(person’s name), we were just talking about … what were you thoughts?”