Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development expert and author of Contagious Leadership and newly released, Make Difficult People Disappear. Machines can teach tasks machines can do. Computers can teach you how to talk to computers. But neither is any good at teaching you how to work with those who can actually talk back. In the age of technology we spend much time simplifying and digitizing the training process. That simplification often includes plopping people in front of a computer and expecting them to learn how to work with people, but it doesn’t work well and here’s why.

Technology Doesn’t Talk

Well, actually it does, but it’s preprogrammed and predictable, most people are not. In soft skills, or the training courses that focus on communication, confidence, leadership or other less linear lessons, you’re teaching employees to use good judgment, to make better decisions or even manage the voices in their head. If everyone’s head, heart, background, and experiences were the same, a computer could teach them how to move ahead, but in most cases a person who can customize to the specific needs of the people in the room works better instead.

You Can’t Swim on the Floor

One of my favorite shows is the Big Bang Theory and in one episode the ever brilliant Sheldon talks about learning how to swim from his computer and on the floor for when the ice caps melt. When asked if he’d ever been IN the water to practice, he said “Well of course not, I’m afraid of the water.” It’s one thing to practice dealing with difficult people and many different scenarios on a computer, it’s quite another to learn to Make Difficult People Disappear in a classroom environment where you can actually prepare and practice, and in which your difficult person is present.

Introverts are Only Half of the Equation

There is a case to be made for the concept that computer based training was built for the more introverted part of our population. Even IF the computer talks to you or there is a video present, people don’t talk or stop talking at the push of a button. People don’t provide you with only multiple choice answers. People… are well, people and the training designed for those who think things through and follow a linear process of cause and effect may well only address the needs of half the population. If you want everyone to learn how to work with the people you lead, you may need to have a multi-medium (for example: webinars, training classes, and assessments) approach to training them how to do so.

For years corporations and industries have found cost savings in web or computer-based training and while there is value there, they are also starting to see the savings in skills, which does not readily produce results. Bringing in a multi-faceted approach for your learners will equip them to deal with computers AND people. For more information on leadership development and training provided by Contagious Companies, go to

I’m Monica Wofford, and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!

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