Tips for Training Adults to Re-think and Re-shape their Persona

Anyone who has taught both adults and children professionally knows that adults learn very differently than children. Adults tend to bring more of a holistic view to the concepts and lessons, while people under the age of 18 often treat courses as items they are checking off a list, as part of a degree for example. The great thing about adult learning is that adults can build on new concepts and understandings by bringing in their own personal experiences in life.  A not-so-great thing about adult education is that when it comes to exercising new ideas and training the brain to use new systems,  as children we naturally pick up on things and fill in the gaps as they get older but as adults we must push ourselves to acknowledge our current thinking and consider new concepts actively.

An experienced employee who has managed many employees in the workplace may naturally be reluctant or unmotivated to adopt new systems for handling their business at work; however, if their current techniques or behavior in the workplace raise a need for improvement in the area of sensitivity then something must be done to address any violations. That’s where (#Breakview) sensitivity training comes in.

When training adults, it is imperative to consider certain general prompts or reminders while facilitating a workshop or webinar. Some of the things I aim to always remember are:

*The adult learner must remain engaged in the lesson or the messages will not have as great effect on them.

*A workshop must have a clear structure understood by both the facilitator and the participant in order to eliminate some of the adult learner’s distracting thoughts about time.

*Facilitators must encourage participants to share their own personal insight and experiences throughout each lesson in order to guide the participants through the lessons in the right direction.


A video by Dr. Maura Cullen called “How to make diversity training more effective: 5 Successful Strategies” lays out information about five excellent strategies one should consider when training adults in the field of diversity and cross-culturalism. Her ideas are outlined below.

Five Strategies for Training Adults

Cullen, Maura.  “How to Make Diversity Training More Effective: 5 Successful Strategies”.


(1) Avoid blame game – if we feel blamed, we can get defensive and/or hostile

-Idea: By show of hands, how many of you have had a bad experience with a diversity training? What can I do to make this one positive?

(2) Debunk Robin Hood Diversity Deficit Model

-Participants need to know how they will benefit

-Debunk the Robin Hood Diversity Deficit Model: Take from the Rich, Give to the Poor. Many people in the advantaged or dominant groups see diversity as a deficit model, that in order for you to win than I must lose. That in order for you to have more, it means that I must have less. Like it or not, we must address their concern. We have to answer the question “What’s in it for me?” People in the advantaged group often think that diversity is “other” related, that it is not about them. In fact, many feel as though they are now being discriminated against.

(3) Training Initiatives Should be Skill Based

-even well-intended people say the wrong things.

-through a training, we’re developing a new skill set for your personal and professional lives

(4) Establish Power Pyramid Partners

-change involves leadership

-Power Pyramid Partners (different video)

(5) People Need to Be Empowered and Inspired

-they need to believe that they can make a positive contribution to the climate of the workplace, and because of this they need concrete action items they can start doing immediately. Otherwise they may leave the training feeling overwhelmed and thinking “ok that was good, but now what?”

-assist them in examining their spheres of influence and analyzing how and where they can make an impact.