More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Corporate Training - A Study In Social Interaction

One of the pluses of working in a resonable sized corporation is that you get to go on training courses and learn more skills. Usually, the training courses don't turn out to be as good as they sound on paper, but hey, what do you really expect to learn in a day or two. The courses usually give you a starting point and you can take it further should you wish. The best part of training for me, is watching the social interaction of the people who attend.

Last week, I went on a training course for Six Hats. To explain it properly is quite long, so you can read about it slowly on Wikipedia. But it basically boils down to each team member wearing certain "hats" where the hats define how they should act. As an example, if you have your "yellow hat" on, you should try to find positives of an idea. You go through various hats throughout the meeting. In the exercises that we did, it seemed to be an extremely useful tool for decision making and ideas generations. Everyone really got into it and I learnt quite a bit from that training.

Today and yesterday, I went on a Project Management Fundamentals course. It was a bit too long in my opinion, running over two days when everything could have been covered quite clearly in one day. The course was slightly helpful, with some new knowledge learnt that will help me in my job. It just seemed like a lot of the course material wasn't directly related to project management. As an aside, one particular girl on my table probably needs to go to Six Hats training. She was so negative towards any ideas put forward by other people and was always confrontational (disguised in a nice manner) about it and shot other people's ideas down. Her ideas always ended up being the chosen one.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love to watch people interact, and this was one of those forced situations where a group of strangers are thrown together. Whereas the Six Hats training was a small group of 4 so there wasn't as much social interaction to look at, the Project Management group of 18 provided much more material for me. Right from the first morning when we got there, watching people choose seats was already very interesting. I was 15 minutes early and turned out to be the first person there. So obviously I choose a seat more to the back and in direct line of sight to everyone so could watch everything. As people slowly came in, the obvious thing happened. Initially the next two people sat at different tables from me. Then when all three tables were taken, the fourth person made a very quick assessment of all of us and then chose a table, with a seat as far away from the other person as possible. Who wants to sit next to a stranger when there are other seats available. This kept happening with each table being filled at roughly the same rate. People would walk in, make a quick assessment of the people they might get along with and then go sit at a table. The tables people chose were also surprising. I was expecting like-groups, such as young women to sit together, older ladies to sit together, young men to sit together etc but that didn't happen at all. The mix was quite even.

The Six Hats training was so small that we were all forced to talk to each other. Today, since there were other strangers all over the room, no one wanted to be the sole person heard talking so the room was deadly quiet, with no one making eye contact, of if they did, quickly turned away afterwards. Once the introductions, run by the trainer, were done, it was on with the class so that got more comfortable. When the first tea break arrived, this was where things got uncomfortable again. When everyone went outside for snacks, people tended to stick to their table groups and talk amongst ourselves since we already had some team interaction. The talk all revolved around "What did you do again?", "So why are you on this training?" etc.

The two days were pretty much all work related talk. I would talk to different people and ask them what they did and about their job. There was occasional non work chat and joking during the various team tasks, but there were also many moments of silence after a break when we would all sit waiting for the trainer. I guess the difference between corporate training and maybe a food class that you attend is that the food class is probably a passion. People with common interests in food will strike up relationships very quickly and bond much more over something they all love. Here, no one is particularly into Project Management. We were there to learn, but its not like to can get to know someone by their Project Management skills unlike what they like to eat. So even after two days, despite people being nice to each other, I didn't feel like anyone connected on any emotional level. As I was walking towards my car, I stopped at a road crossing where one of the other ladies was also walking to her car. We chatted but you could feel how uncomfortable it was. We were both just trying to get to the car park as fast as possible so we could stop talking and walk away. It would seem rude to walk away immediately since we sort of knew each other but really didn't.

Lunch time was similarly weird. The food was great by the way, but again being forced to sit together and eat was weird. It was deadly quiet at times with conversations occurring between some people and the rest of us being unwilling listeners. There was a lot of looking around and some very concentrated looks at the food. Once everyone finished eating, there was no sitting around talking. Everyone went outside to make calls on their mobiles or go for walks etc.

It just shows how unreal those reactions on Big Brother are. How could people who are total strangers be like best friends in a matter of minutes. Whenever people meet new people, there is always hesitation since you don't know if you can trust them yet. There is also the unkown of what the other person is like and whether you will get along with them.

The next training I'm going on is a Laser Safety Course. I think that will be more of a class based training session and have very little group activities, so it probably won't provide as many wonderful social interactions. I hope the lunch is good though, thats usually the highlight of training.


Post a Comment

<< Home