Former NFL Player Offers
Rich Thompson, a former professional football player,
is currently vice president of training and development at Adecco. In a recent
interview with BLR's Training Forum
newsletter, he addressed the questions: Did you
ever have to deal with heckling football fans, and did that experience teach you
anything about engaging skeptics during training?
Thompson, who worked as a free agent for the Green
Bay Packers for 2 years in the early 1990s, has faced his share of hecklers.
"I've been called every name you can think of. I've had things thrown at me," he
In football, "you just learn to block those things
out," Thompson explains. "You're there to do a job. You're there because you're
good. You pay no attention to anyone else."
In a corporate training setting, you can't just
ignore hecklers or skeptics, of course. The situation is similar to football
because you have a job to do and you have to be confident in yourself.
"The confidence that is needed to step out on the
field is the same confidence needed when you step into a training room," says
Thompson, who has worked for Adecco (www.adecco.com) for 10 years and was
recently recognized by Training
magazine as one of its 2008 Top Young Trainers. "You
have to be able to develop and deliver a program that you feel 100 percent
"There are always skeptics," Thompson says. However,
having a high confidence level can help you motivate skeptical learners and get
them engaged in the learning process. "As a trainer, there's a lot of motivation
that goes with this."
He recommends assuring skeptics that learning
something new is never easy, and that if they try the skills that you're
teaching, they can be successful. When applicable, explain that you have been in
their situation and had the same concerns yourself, he says.
"You never want to be adversarial. You want to be a
good listener. But you want to be confident enough in yourself, and when you're
delivering, that you can work with them to show them the way."