Sunday, January 5, 2014

Student/Instructor Dialogue: Essential for success

In her book Persuasion, marketing expert and Dragon’s Den co-star Arlene Dickinson highlights the difference between business people who listen to their prospects/clients and those who dominate conversations by pushing the benefits and qualities of their service/product.  Dialogue and monologue, respectively.   Dialogue, she rightly points out is more effective in establishing and sustaining a relationship with your client.  How else can you understand the needs and wants of your client?

Dickinson’s sound advice should be embraced by self defense instructors.  Some instructors follow the Monologue model taking their expertise as license to talk and not listen - or rarely listen -to their students.  In extreme cases, students passively listen and follow direction.  In other situations, students might ask questions but are not encouraged to do so.

The Monologue is very limited because the student’s experience is minimized or even dismissed.  The result is that their voice, their opinions, ideas, feelings etc...  are not respected and remain unknown to the instructor.

This is a serious hindrance to students learning.  Here are 4 reasons... 

Respect:  Ever sit with someone who dominates a conversation, focusing on himself and all of his wonderful qualities and his knowledge base?  Yes, you have. Did you feel respected?  Do you want to spend more time with this person?  I don't.

: How do you know if the student is enjoying your class?  Sometimes, students will simply tell you, or their body language will be obvious.  Why not offer students as many opportunities as possible to communicated their enjoyment (or lack of) of your training?

Needs: Every student is unique and your students will have various questions, aptitudes, limitations and learning styles.  If you are too busy talking you won’t learn what your students need to become better practitioners and to enjoy their experience. 

Diversity Evokes Interest. In university the classes I enjoyed were the ones that invited interaction.  Even if you didn’t want to talk it was comforting to know you could and it was refreshing to hear other voices, opinions, and voices.  Long and arduous were the sessions where the professor poured out his knowledge to a passive and often disengaged group of students.  

Encourage dialogue and your students will be more engaged and become more able practitioners.

Share your experience as an Instructor, Student or both.  We are keen to hear your views!

Be safe, 

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Dickinson, Arlene. Persuasion: A New Approach to Changing Minds.  Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., 2011.

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