Trainers often mean what they say, but do they always say what they mean? Garry Platt blows the whistle on what trainers really mean when they use these familiar phrases.
1. You didn’t enjoy the exercise and you didn’t learn anything? That’s interesting.
Interpretation: (Has probably been saying this every week for the last 15 years but has not yet seen the correlation.) I’ve always done it this way and I’m always going to do it this way.
2. There’s no right or wrong answer to this.
Interpretation: (This statement usually precedes an exercise where normally the participants are left completely baffled, bewildered and none the wiser.) So don’t blame me if you get it wrong.
3. Let’s look at this from another point of view.
Interpretation: I haven’t got the answer I want yet.
4. We’re all here to learn.
Interpretation: You’re here to listen to me.
5. This is your course.
Interpretation: (Stated at the beginning of the course) So you can’t blame me.
(Stated half way through the course) I wash my hands of it.
6. What does the group think?
Interpretation: I didn’t even understand the question!
7. That’s very interesting.
Interpretation: What a load of c--p.
8. I don’t want to dwell on this subject.
Interpretation: I’ve no idea what I’m talking about.
9. I’ve never seen this exercise done this way before.
Interpretation: Are you all mad?
The not-so serious
10. I think you’ve heard enough of me talking, so let’s do an activity.
Interpretation: Wake up!
11. Can I answer that later? It’s a little out of context but an interesting question.
Interpretation: I don’t know the answer, but I know a book that does.
12. Can we discuss this during the break?
Interpretation: The break I shall put in your legs if you don’t shut up.
13. That’s an interesting view point.
Interpretation: This person is a potential mad axe murderer.
14. I sense hostility here.
Interpretation: Please put the gun down.
15. Perhaps I’m not explaining my self properly.
Interpretation: You stupid individual.
16. Any questions?
Interpretation: Does anybody not understand what I have just explained in simple crystal clear detail?
17. What are your opinions on this?
Interpretation: There are ten minutes to kill before lunch.
18.I don’t know.
Interpretation: (1. Said in a modest, self effacing, humble, disarming, unpretentious, congenial, Zen way). Behold, I am not a god I am merely a mortal. (2. Said in a slightly aggressive accusatory tone). Prepare to die earth scum!
19. This course is completely learner centred.
Interpretation: I only found out this morning I was doing this course and I don’t know anything about it.
20. Honesty, openness and a need to support others is the backbone of this event.
Interpretation: I am expecting bloodshed and poison gas attacks.
21. Please feel free to challenge my views at any time.
Interpretation: But understand, my death squads are everywhere.
22. I have enjoyed working with you immensely.
Interpretation: I hope you all catch anthrax.
23. This isn’t in the handouts, so you’ll need to take notes.
Interpretation: The notes are on my desk and I have forgotten them.
24. (As part of the introduction to the course.) This is an enjoyable course.
Interpretation: I only had seven fatalities on the last event.
25. (As part of the course joining materials.) There are extensive facilities here at the training centre
Interpretation: We have a car park (for 2 cars), a drinks dispenser (which isn’t working at the moment) and name plate cards (which we have just run out of).
Garry Platt is a senior consultant at Woodland Grange specialising in management development and trainer training. He can be contacted on 01926 336621 or e mail: