Behavioral Psychology

Let Your Trainee Struggle With Challenging Tasks

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One of the worst mistakes you can make as a trainer, in any capacity, is to underestimate the abilities and potential of your trainee. As Mr. Miagi put it, “No bad student only bad teacher.” Underestimation is an interesting case of being a bad teacher because you’re usually trying to be a good teacher, to be helpful, to let your student off the hook when things get too tough.

What happens to a lot of amateur trainers the moment the intensity ratchets up, when a task becomes more challenging and it’s obvious the trainee is having trouble, is that they step in to save the day rather than letting things play out. A lot of the time this has to do with poor anxiety management on the part of the trainer. The anxiety produced in the trainee due to the difficulty of the task produces anxiety in the trainer too and taking over the task reduces this anxiety.

But the behavior sets a dangerous precedent where the trainee gets reinforced to look to others for solutions when things get tough instead of relying on inner capacities. This is why you’ve got to check that impulse, tolerate your own anxiety, and remain an involved observer. Give your trainee a chance to struggle, to work things through, to confront failure and grow from it. If you remain supportive and encouraging through it all you’ll end up being appreciated and loved by your trainee much more than if you step in to save the day every time things get tough.