Monday, October 30, 2006

Are you a good "student?"

In one way or another, we've all played the role of a teacher to someone at some time - whether it's helping someone with homework and studying or training and helping someone perform a task in the work place.

If you're doing that kind of thing out a sense of teamwork or out of the kindness of your own heart, it can be rather frustrating when your "student" is too busy interrupting you to, talking over you, or not really listening to you.

If you've ever experienced that, you know what I'm talking about. Whether in a discussion or, especially, trying to "teach" someone, it can be very disheartening to find that they're much more interested in talking than listening.

Sometimes we're able to recognize faults with others, but we're unable (or occasionally unwilling) to recognize and address them within ourselves.

So, what kind of "student" are you? Hell, for that matter, what kind of conversationalist are you?
If you're wondering what prompted or inspired this post, it was a situation with a co-worker who, from her very first day, showed me that she was not a very good "student." I'm sure she'd completely disagree with that assessment, but I assure you that it's entirely accurate.

As has happened before, she had a problem that was in an area that was not my responsibility, but I tried to help her, anyway - at her request, most likely. As I'm standing there telling her what she can do on the computer to accomplish her task, she's continually attempting to solve the problem HERSELF. She thinks of different ways she'd like to address the issue, then tries them. I already know how some of these things are going to work out, which is why I did not suggest them.

In any case, as I see that she's going to keep trying her own methods instead of listening to mine, I decide to leave her to it. Whenever I try to walk away, though, she asks me about MY suggestion.

It's a cycle of questions from her, answers from me, then a failure on her part to listen to those answers. Eventually, I free myself from this cycle and go about my business.

Hours later, she tells me that she finally got it to work. I had no idea she was still wrestling with the issue. She said she ended up doing what I suggested and it worked.

If she were a better listener or "student," she wouldn't have wasted so much of her, my, or our employer's time.
If nothing else, constant interruptions and poor listening are disrespectful to the person whose's trying to help you - whether s/he's getting paid to do so or not.

(It reminds me of watching a movie with someone and they ignore the whole thing, then, when it gets REALLY interesting, they're confused, so they bombard you with a million questions - questions that they wouldn't need to ask if they'd simply paid attention.)


Miz JJ said...

I am a good student although if I don't understand something right away (the first time you explain it) sometimes it is hard for me to get grasp the concept. I like to listen because I despise wasting time. One time I was trained by this girl and she was unefficient. She was training me how to do her job and I kept asking her why she was doing things so unefficiently and she got vex with me. I just let her 'teach' me what to do and did my own thing later.

West said...

Yeah. Efficiency helps.

And, of course, ol' girl represents the other side of the coin, I guess: Not everyone's a good "teacher."

Shai said...

West, I am not trying to defend her. The thing is since working with different people and doing training, everyone learns differently. I had a supervisor "assume" just because she imparted information, that we would all get it.

Just remember what you convey may not get to the person you are conveying it to. The communication model folks either don't know or forget. People have filters, perceptions that can distort what you are saying. Getting good feedback tells you if the message got across.

I remember the frustration of telling someone I don't get and finally showing them how I learn. LOL. That's life, not everyone thinks like you. Some people learn hands-on or my using metaphors for examples.

I think we do a disservice when we don't learn to talk to the person in a way they can understand. Flexibility, that is a hard lesson I learned working with other people. It felt so much better when folks took the time to see who they were talking to and adjusting to that person.

I guess I got to rambling. This hits home because it was a growth area for me. Alot of my ex-coworkers liked it when we broke things down in a way they understood. It feels good to understand and for people to take the time to give you attention.

Anyway, I cannot say for homegirl maybe she was nervous or just takes a long time to learn or was not comfortable using what she was using. Who knows? LOL.

West said...

I wasn't judging whether she was "a good student" solely by whether she successfully absorbed the information.

I was judging the fact that she wouldn't let me finish a sentence. She wasn't interrupting to ask what a word meant or anything like, either. She was troubleshooting like I wasn't there to tell her the answer to the problem.

If she were interested in troubleshooting without me, then she was welcome to do just that. Asking me for help, though, then interrupting and ignoring everything I say is just ridiculous.

There's little chance of figuring out how she learns because she has the attention-span of a box of Corn Flakes. Flexibility is key, but so are basic listening skills - skills which don't involve regularly interrupting the other person.

Shai said...

That's funny West. LOL. Because the smartest sponge at my old job only got things if it was written. We were being trained for the same jobs, I had more training so I had to pass along the info. He asked questions before you could finish an action and he wrote EVERYTHING you said down. He did that with ALL the people who were part of training.

Eventually, he was put in a research position. I got transferred to another site. He has not gotten promoted in 6 years, I got 2 in 4 years. LOL.

He was very smart but had the social skills of a turtle. LOL. Whew! That man was a trip.

West said...

Awww. lol