When I walk the woofer to work my route takes me passed a primary school.
As you might expect I sometimes end up stuck behind a slow moving party of children and their parents – mostly their mum’s but occasionally dad’s, too.
Last week this exact situation arose and, as I couldn’t get past for a couple of minutes I was privileged to overhear a conversation with one mum and her young son… mind you I didn’t really need to be that close, I could have been several hundred metres away and still heard every word.
Yes, the conversation (and to be honest it wasn’t much of a conversation given that it was so one sided) was conducted at full volume.
I won’t bore you with all the details but one little passage on shouting really caught my attention. It went something like this:
(Remember the lady in question was Scottish; I mention this merely so you can imagine the accent.) ‘Will yuse come on? If yuse dinna come on, ah’m gonna drop your troosers and smack your arse.’
Hmmm, thinks I. I wonder what the significance of dropping the poor lad’s trousers was. Was it to inflict maximum embarrassment or was it to get a really good contact when the hand came into contact with the newly exposed bottom?
Of course, it was all threats and bluster and no smacking was actually administered. An outcome the young lad was clearly well aware of was always the most likely because he didn’t appear to take the threat seriously and continued to dawdle up the road at the same slow pace.
The incident, though, got me thinking about training.
There have been several instances of training humans and animals to react to certain things through ‘conditioning’. For example, Ivan Pavlov and his dogs. It was all about salivating. Pavlov notices dogs salivating before being fed, so he rang a bell as he presented food. Eventually the ringing of the bell was enough to make the dogs salivate.
I wonder if I could do that in the training room… you know, wire delegates up to electrodes and if they don’t get the answer exactly right, give ‘em a quick shock.
It would be tempting, though.
There is a branch of development which is kind of similar. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is about ‘conditioning’ and can be very useful for self-development or ‘getting on the same wavelength’ as others in, say, a sales situation.
Sue Knight is a leading light in NLP and her book NLP at Work is a look.