Trainers often share that one of the greatest fears of encouraging dialogue is maintaining focus on the content being explored. Trainers often ask, “What if it goes off-track? What if they start to complain about things I can’t do anything about?”
The only way we can tap into the learner’s commitment to the content is to welcome the dialogue. The dialogue will tell you what the learners are committed to. In Seven Languages for Transformation: How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, authors Kegan and Lahey share, “… people only complain about something because they are committed to the value or importance of something else.” (Kegan and Lahey, 2001, p. 30). When a learners says he is upset about one thing, what he is really telling you is that he is committed to something else. It’s your job to figure out what that is. Rather than thinking about how you address the complaint, focus on the bigger message being delivered. The opposite of what we complain about is what we want. With each complaint, the learner is giving up the key to engagement—what it is he truly wants to create.
Source: Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles (Wiley 2012)