The Trainer’s Vulnerability
Training would be easier if we could assume that every trainee wanted help, was honest, and would cooperate fully in the training. Regretfully this does not always happen. Some trainees have a conscious or unconscious desire to manipulate, frustrate, or not cooperate. This is a difficult discovery for trainer who wants to succeed and whose success chiefly comes when people change. It is always difficult to work with people like this, especially when the people might not cooperate. By agreeing to help we are opening ourselves to the possibility of power struggles, exploitation and failure.
There are at least two major ways in which people frustrate the trainer and increase his or her vulnerability.
1. Manipulation. Some people are masters at getting their own way by controlling others. Manipulated trainers are rarely helpful trainers. People who attempt to manipulate the trainer have often made manipulation a way of life. They do it subtly and well but they are not free to live apart from deception and the art of controlling. The trainer must challenge these tactics, refuse to be moved by them, and teach more satisfying ways of relating to others.
It is wise to ask continually: “Am I being manipulated?” “Am I going beyond my responsibilities as a trainer?” “What does this trainee really want?” Sometimes people claim that they want help with a challenge but they really want your attention and time, your approval of sinful or otherwise harmful behavior, or your support as an ally in some family conflict. Sometimes people come because they believe that concerned mates, family members and employers will stop complaining about the trainee’s behavior if it appears that training is taking place. When you suspect such dishonesty and manipulation it is wise to raise this with the trainee, expect denial, and then structure the training in a way that prevents manipulation and exploitation of the counselor in the future. Remember that truly helpful training is not always pleasing to the trainee or convenient for the trainer, but it does contribute to the growth and development of the person who comes for help. It doubtlessly is true that “people who are genuine in their desire for help are seldom demanding,” dishonest or manipulative.
2. Resistance. people sometimes come for help because they want immediate relief from pain but when they discover that permanent relief might require time, effort and greater pain they resist training. Some times the challenges provide benefits which the trainee is unwilling to give up (personal attention from others, for example, or disability compensation, decreased responsibility, or more subtle gratifications such as punishment or the opportunity to make life difficult for others). Since successful training would take away these benefits the trainee does not cooperate. Then there are people who get a sense of power and accomplishment by frustrating the efforts of others – such as lifestyle trainers. These people often convince themselves, ” I’m beyond help – but then that trainer who couldn’t succeed with me isn’t any good either.” So the trainer continues to train, the trainee pretends to cooperate, but no one gets better.
Resistance is a powerful force which often requires in-depth lifestyle training. When trainers begin to work, the trainee’s defenses are threatened and this leads to anxiety, anger and non-cooperation which sometimes is not even conscious. When trainee’s are relatively well-adjusted this resistance can be discussed gently and openly. Let the trainee know that he or she (not the trainer) is responsible ultimately for improvement or non-improvement. The trainer provides a structured relationship, avoids getting on the defensive, and must recognize that one’s effectiveness as a trainer (and certainly as a person is not always correlated with the improvement rate of trainee.
We can remain alert to potential challenges when we frequently as ourselves (and each other) questions such as the following:
Why do I say this is the worst (or best) person I have ever trained?
Is there a reason why I or the trainee is always late?
Is there a reason why I or the trainee wants more (or less) time than we had agreed previously??
Do I overreact to statements this trainee makes?
Do I feel bored when I am with this person? Is the problem with me or with the trainee, or both?
Why do I always disagree (or agree) with the trainee?
Do I find myself wanting to end this relationship or to hold on to it even though it should end?
Am I beginning to feel too much sympathy for the trainee?
Do I think about the trainee frequently between sessions, daydream about him or her, or show more than average interest in the trainee’s problem? Why?
- The Trainer and Training (georgehach.wordpress.com)
- The Trainer’s Effectiveness (georgehach.wordpress.com)
- The Techniques of Training (georgehach.wordpress.com)
- The Process of Training (georgehach.wordpress.com)
- For the Leader (georgehach.wordpress.com)
- The First Contact (georgehach.wordpress.com)
- The Goals of Training (georgehach.wordpress.com)
- The Church As a Training Community (georgehach.wordpress.com)