Many years ago I was taught a very simple communication principle: 'feel, felt, found'.
It is simple; it goes:
'I know how you feel.
I felt the same way.
This is what I found.'
It is vital that anyone looking to communicate, whether as a speaker or a trainer can establish empathy between themselves and their listeners.
And 'feel, felt, found' is a simple and direct way of establishing a strong connection.
And it is a principle - not a technique!
I was once asked by a student,
'What if I don't know how they feel?'
Then don't say it!
We should view these sayings as principles or tools only to be used, if applicable, in specific situations, never as techniques to manipulate a situation.
Feel, felt, found: is an extension of the speaking principle: 'Why you; Why me'.
(Why should I listen to you? Why is that interesting to me? - see blog February 2014)
Probably the single biggest accusation hurled at trainers is:
'It is all very well for you, but you don't understand my situation.'
That is why it is immensely powerful if a trainer can start their teaching with any genuine reference to shared experience:
'I have done your job'; 'I have been in your situation'; 'I remember facing similar challenges.'
Both as children and as adults we spend much of our life feeling unappreciated and misunderstood.
Life's daily experiences, it is said, rarely contrive to make us feel more valued or more significant.
The bigger the organisation or corporation, the greater the danger of the 'little' person being made to feel small and undervalued.
This is why the role of trainer can be so influential and such a huge privilege, because in our training rooms, we have the power to be able to say to our students:
'Yes you do matter, Yes I do know how you feel.'
And a student will always respond better if they feel appreciated.
So if the trainer can set out their training by saying:
I know how you feel, because I have done your job, or been in a similar situation.
I felt the same way as you. So I understand your situation.
But crucially, I have a solution that may help - ie - This is what I found.
That will go a long way to establishing a foundation of trust and credibility.
I remember very vividly going to a sales training where all of us realised very quickly that our trainer had never done what we were doing; he had never been in our situation.
Therefore how could he know how we 'feel'?
He had never 'felt' the same way and so consequently we had difficulty accepting what he claimed to have 'found' as the solution to our problems.
If you know how I feel;
if you have felt what I have felt and
if you have now found a way of helping me forward,
I will listen to what you have to say.
This article was written by Michael Ronayne, director at the College of Public Speaking and four-time UK National Public Speaking Champion.
To discover more of Michael's top training techniques, check out his professionally accredited Train the Trainer course here