O'Connell Advanced Training Solutions

flexibles und individuelles Englischtraining in Sachsen

When to Bend and When to Break (Up)

Early in my training career I was confronted with repulsive learners, a young-ish couple who repelled me to my patriotic, Australian core. They gleefully told me of their cultural theft, passing off their own dot paintings as authentic Aboriginal art because, as they told me, "all Aboriginals are alcoholics and we didn't want to give them our money" (they'd had a recent holiday to Australia).

I was disgusted. Offended. Revolted by their lack of cultural awareness, knowledge of Aboriginal Australian culture, the importance of art as a means of cultural expression, storytelling, and the downright fraud they were perpetuating. Further, they weren't interested in learning. They took the same misguided white European cultural dominance perspective which was a blight on our country during its first 200 years of settlement, and which remains a blight today in the highest levels of government.

And so I fired them. Well, I fired them as best I could back then, lacking both the authority and confidence to do so : I told my boss I wasn't available to teach them any more, and that was that. Washed my hands of them.

Nine years on and my circumstances are vastly different. Well, I'm still a proud Australian, that hasn't changed (and I'll be voting for Australia in Eurovision this year!!). But now I'm in a position where I can choose my clients, though as Spiderman or some such superhero says, "with great power comes great responsibility".

Luckily the majority of my clients are fabulous - many have become friends. That's the way when one's training style is open and communicative, business flexible, personalised and responsive and one's clients duly appreciative.

But there's a recent client.... one who's set the warning bells off... and has sparked me to consider the morals and ethics of "firing" clients. Where does the line exist and what do you do when it's crossed? What do you do when your beliefs - dearly held - are confronted with their polar opposite?

In a training session I participated in last year at the Australian Institute of Management, a fellow participant stated that as trainers we have to remain professional and impartial at all times, that our personal beliefs should never enter the training room. He was specifically speaking with regards to assessment and ensuring the transparency and fairness of its processes, but while I could see his point I personally could not see its practical application in all situations. Such as this one.

So I put it to you - in what situations do you feel it is appropriate to "fire" a client? Where do you draw the line? And if you have decided it's time to separate, how do you approach it? How do you retain professionalism while saying it's time to say goodbye?