Disinterest Can Be Revealing


When One Team Member Is Resistant

All of us who are involved in training, coaching or educating have experienced the “I-don’t-want-to-be-here” team member.

You are working with a team that generally appears to be very much engaged. They are right there with you, hanging on your every word, but out of the corner of your eye you notice one employee in particular exhibiting a little different body language.  She may appear to either be lost in her own thoughts, gazing around the room, or even worse sneaking a peek at her cell phone.  If you’ve held this role for as long as I have, you know this has happened to you a time or two.

Why is it that the majority of the group is clearly excited to learn and is visibly interested in what you have to say, while one person is only physically present?

This is a phenomenon that occurs in many other situations as well.  Entertainers experience it while on stage, teachers see it when they are addressing their students, and this is also common when one person is speaking to a small group in an informal social setting.  Often you can see this via their personal demeanor, as they look around the room for someone that might be there to allow them to bow out of the conversation and on to another one. While this is a very common occurrence in everyday life, it is considerably different when you are contracted to bring your knowledge and expertise to a group only to find one participant who “wished you had never showed up”.

While in social settings these reactions are totally acceptable. The same doesn’t necessarily apply to learning situations.  I look at the one (or sometimes two) group members and wonder what it might be that has caused me to “lose” their attention. In some cases these individuals will challenge us, much like a heckler in an audience wanting to get attention while an entertainer is on stage. What is it that causes that one person to tune out? Do they perhaps hope to catch us and make us wrong?  Are they threatened by what we have to say? Are they there because they were told to be there yet are not at all interested in what we have to share?  Could they be somewhat envious of your position as an advisor to their doctors?

The best and most valuable team members are those that are 100% compliant from the start, or are at least open to learn and give this new information a chance.  They have respect for the person delivering the message and realize that this might enhance the day-to-day functioning of the practice, perhaps even making their life easier enabling both they and the practice to become more successful.

I’ll often reference the fact that I can gain just as much knowledge from how someone reacts to taking a profile or assessment as I can with the results it delivers.  Please don’t take your team members’ reaction to a professional presentation lightly. This display can be very ”telling”, so don’t ignore it if/when you experience it.