Regular readers may know that I have a monthly job down in the Midlands.
Every month, I stay in the Stone Manor Hotel on a Sunday and Monday night. I arrive late on Sunday and go straight to my room but on Monday I have to eat and, as the bill is kindly settled by the client directly, I eat in the bar… never the restaurant, always the bar!
However, this doesn’t prevent the pseudo French Maitre D’ trying to tempt me through to the very expensive and only fairly good restaurant.
I say pseudo French because he always approaches me in the same way: ‘Weel sirrr be eeeting in ze rest-o-rarnt zis ev-e-ning?’
To which I always look up from my enough beer battered bar meal haddock and say, ‘No thanks.’
I’m fairly sure he disappears off to the kitchen, very disappointed, and declares in a broad brummie accent, ‘No, Oi couldn’t git him in tonoight!’
However, that’s just an aside and not the point of this blog.
No, I’ve just finished the course and a very tough two days it’s been, too. Not because anyone has been particularly challenging; they haven’t. In fact, everyone has been very nice… it’s just that they haven’t said anything.
And very off putting it’s been. I’ve been talking away in my usual, very questioning style, and I’ve had to resort to the art of the powerful silence to get anything. In fact, I’ve gone beyond ‘powerful silence’ and have had to employ the pregnant pause to get any response at all.
Oh em gee, thinks I to myself. I’m going to get hammered in the feedback on this one. But actually I needn’t have worried.
I had to tidy up some materials at lunchtime and one of the delegate’s manual just happened to be open on the page we’d been working on juts before our midday break. His notes were full and, in fact, he’d just about written down word for word what I’d been talking about.
I was a salient lesson to me as a trainer… and a bit of bad luck, too.
It’s very rare, on a course of five or more people, for everyone to be quiet; there’s nearly always an outspoken person. On this occasion, there wasn’t. The silence I had assumed was because they had the hump with me was no such thing.
The old phrase almost came very true. You know the one: if you assume, you make an ass of u and me.
Do you see what I did there?