Monthly Archives: September 2010

Post-Training Stress, The Need for Perfection, and an Absence of Self-Acceptance!

If you think that I am over-stepping the boundaries of Cognitive Psychology and entering into the realm of Clinical Psychology, you are mistaken.

I am here – right where I belong. I am standing amidst trainers, content writers, and other learning professionals – I am where I belong…and yes, I am talking about Stress and Self-Acceptance.

I am talking about it because these are the realities of our lives.

A trainer who trains others to handle work-related stress experiences loads of it herself. The normal stress-busters don’t apply to her – her stress originates from something else…and unfortunately she has to face it after every training program she conducts. Her stress is repetitive, and hence a lot more damaging. It can quickly result in fissures, which can suddenly give way, rendering her completely helpless.

My focus today is the stress that every trainer experiences post-training.

Let us begin by understanding two terms:

  • Stress
  • Self-Acceptance

Stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain,”  and it manifests itself as a disorder when it begins to cause physical problems such as palpitation, perspiration, muscular tension, constipation, excessive hunger…and so on.

Self-Acceptance is “an acceptance of yourself as you are, warts and all

Now if you’ve got the two terms right, let us define our problem, determine its root-causes, and try to get rid of all the training-related stress that’s been plaguing our lives.


If you are a trainer, and if you are experiencing any of the physical symptoms listed above, you should go through this article.

Let’s first see why a trainer experiences stress!

Why Trainers experience Stress?

The trainer:

  • is uncomfortable with the act of delivering trainings and doesn’t like to interface with people.
  • doesn’t know the subject well and conducts the training in fear of not being able to deliver.
  • has a morbid fear of hecklers and while he trains he obsesses about one or more of the participants turning hecklers.
  • assumes that there are people in the group who know more than he/she does of the content, and that he’d be laughed at behind his back.
  • is a perfectionist and fears the possibility that a few/some/many of the participants might not be happy with his training.

There could be other reasons too – but then they’d probably be related to the root causes for the stress.

The Two Root Causes of Stress among Trainers:

Let us understand both these root causes:

  • the absence of Self-Acceptance and
  • the denial of diversity in the audience.

When we step into the shoes of a trainer, we aim for perfection. We want to be the best of trainers. We don’t want to go wrong. Unfortunately we aren’t God. We are humans – and as humans, we have our own set of “perceived” deficiencies. Here are some examples:
See if you can connect with any of these.

  1. Vocabulary issues (I don’t have a huge vocabulary)
  2. Posture issues (I slouch)
  3. Candidness issues (I can’t mince words)
  4. Temperament issues (I lose patience)
  5. Content issues (I don’t know the content)
  6. Personality issues (I hate being a trainer)

Though the list can go on – do you see that in this short list, the first five can be improved upon, the last can’t be (at least not with ease.)

So, you aren’t God but then what’s new?

How could Trainers Eliminate Stress from their Work-lives?

Accept your shortcomings and move forth. How about not worrying about them (the first 5) until you get past them. I slouch too – but I don’t think that it makes a difference to my training programs. I am working on my posture – some day I might have a better posture, but until then, don’t bother me. And the fact is – I don’t remember anyone having ever complained about it either. Cheer up! Nobody there is noticing those shortcomings, except you my friend!

But if you don’t like to connect with people, you might consider changing your career tracks – because your inner-self isn’t going to change in a month or maybe an year – it’d take more time…you won’t be able to keep the stress at bay for that long…so move on, dear – stress is a sadist – it kills you slowly…don’t be a trainer if you don’t like to stand there and talk. Just check out.

The second cause is simpler to understand and also to accept.

Remember that people are different. You can do your best, you can kill yourself bettering your best, but each individual is different from another – and though there would be 9 people out of 10 who would be normal and who would learn from you and appreciate your effort; the tenth might either not learn or might not want to appreciate you despite learning a lot! Don’t kill yourself for those nutcases.

And remember,
There are three kinds of learners:

  1. Who want to learn,
  2. Who are indifferent and would learn if you tried, and
  3. Who don’t want to learn!

Focus on the first two kinds – leave the third kind alone. You can’t force-feed learning. And yes – when I say leave the third kind, I say wipe them off your mind-screen! There feedback doesn’t matter – Aim to educate, train, teach, and enable 70% of your audience. If you are able to do better, consider it a bonus. Don’t aim for perfection, because perfection doesn’t exist. Remember that those who are interested in learning shouldn’t be penalized for those who aren’t.

So don’t let anyone stress you out – neither the perfectionist who sits inside you, nor the non-motivated heckler who sits outside. You are precious for people who really matter to you – save yourself for them.

Important Concepts Discussed in this Post:

  • Stress
  • Self-Acceptance
  • Perfection


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Behaviorism – Have the Behaviorist Methods Lost their Potency in the New Age of Learning?

Can you stop reading?
Yes, I mean now.

Checking out Operant Conditioning:

Now pick up your phone and dial your parents, or grandparents if possible. Ask them whether they were ever punished in the class – and then ask them whether they now think of the punishment as unnecessary.
My take is that they’d gloat over those days of spanking and knuckle warming. I believe that they’d tell you that they owe their success to those teachers who beat some sense into them.
My parents do, and I do too.

We were conditioned to accept punishments as corrective measures. We were also motivated to learn for the rewards of non-material (parental-acceptance,) and the material (movies/ice-creams) kind!

Checking out Classical Conditioning:

Call your parents again. Pester them to tell you about the homework they used to get and the lines that they had to do. Do they think they learned by doing their homework?
My parents and I – we feel that we did. About three-decades ago, my Grandmother used to tell me about how she became so good at Mathematics (She’d help me solve Math problems when I was in my final year of school.) She told me that she’d spend hours solving mathematical problems and the repetition made her an expert at it. Note that she did solve different kinds of problems and so there was a lot of cognitive processing involved – but expertise is a direct function of practice.
We were conditioned to accept repetition as a reinforcement mechanism.

Our grandparents, our parents, and some of us too, went to school when Behaviorist methods of imparting learning were a norm – and we learned. We learned better and we learned without hired help teaching us extra hours. We managed to do it because nothing beats practice – and because we knew that learning would help us avoid punishment and it might even lead to a reward.

The Behaviorist Framework helps Structure Learning Experiences:

As children, if we were expected to learn without the framework of reward and punishment then despite those beautifully crafted, highly relevant examples (cognitivism) we’d find no reason on earth to spend extra time and effort to make that learning our own! No punishment to avoid, no reward to obtain!

As kids, if were allowed to come up with our own interpretations (constructivism) and then our teachers would’ve guided us towards the correct conclusions; without repeatedly going through the logical connections that led to those correct conclusions – we’d lose ourselves completely in the woods of new learning.

I speak of us as children, because as adults we always have a strong reason in form of an immediate application, which drives us to learn despite the absence of behaviorist frameworks. However, it doesn’t mean that what applies to children wouldn’t apply to grownups.

The Behaviorist framework enables us to motivate the learners by structuring rewards, punishments, and also practice into a learning experience. Thus in the case of children, a behaviorist framework often becomes the only motivator that establishes a habit of learning; while in the case of adults, it becomes and add-on motivator to the adult-learner’s internal motivation derived from an immediate need.


Instructional Design Principles Referred in this Post:


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While I am away…Reflect on these!

Dear visitors,

I’ll be back to blogging next week (this week I am conducting an Instructional Design Training Program). If you happen to stop by, reflect on the following learning quotes and wonder how intuitive Instructional Design can be:)

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn. – C.S. Lewis

Relevant Instructional Design Principle / Concept:
Dale’s Cone


Much learning does not teach understanding. – Heraclitus

Relevant Instructional Design Principle / Concept:
Bloom’s Taxonomy – Levels 1 and 2


That one is learned who has reduced his learning to practice. – A Proverb

Relevant Instructional Design Principle / Concept:
Bloom’s Taxonomy / Knowles’ Andragogy


I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. – Abraham Lincoln

Relevant Instructional Design Principle / Concept:
Schema Theory


Source for the Quotes:

See you soon:)

– Shafali.


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Pros and Cons of Rapid e-Learning

Have you been blinded by the glare of Rapid eLearning Products yet?

  • Yes
  • No

What’s your answer?

I know that it’s difficult to answer this question objectively.  Don’t worry – let’s begin by first looking at some of its obvious advantages.

Advantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Rapid e-learning has multiple advantages. Here are 3 important benefits of employing Rapid eLearning.

  1. It can be produced by an SME-ID (Subject Matter Expert and Instructional Designer) team, thus trimming the development costs.
  2. It can be quickly put together depending upon the need of the hour – and note that with the rapidly changing technologies, the learning needs are in a flux.
  3. It can lead to standardization of eLearning content quality.

Rapid eLearning has the concept of the shrinking half-life of knowledge at its core – and it does help an organization benefit in the above three ways. Unfortunately, the obvious advantages of rapid e learning have led to its being employed for all kinds of content and all types of audiences.

Such indiscriminate use of rapid elearning tools, leads to certain disadvantages in the long-run.

Disadvantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Here are three serious issues with the use of Rapid eLearning.

  1. The content begins to look stale after a few lessons, and loses the learner’s attention.
  2. The best-possible instructional strategy is sidelined and the next possible one is applied! Thus, there’s a reduction in the learning effectiveness.
  3. The overall loss of learning effectiveness kills the learner’s appetite for eLearning…because the learner doesn’t know that all eLearning isn’t rapid elearning.

It doesn’t matter how many interactivity templates a rapid eLearning product offers to you…and how different they look on the surface…internally they still are “templates”. I agree that there is content with little or no longevity, and that such content can use rapid eLearning to avoid the loss of precious time – but I don’t see how non-technical high-longevity content or its learners can benefit from rapid eLearning.

Using rapid eLearning tools all the time could be like eating burgers three times a day for the rest of your life. It’s fast to cook, easy to order – and it saves a lot of time…but you can’t eat it all the time…not if you want to live!


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