Lesley Irving, Head of Equality Policy, Scottish Government and Summer School 2017 Participant writes:

Before I came on this training, a very respected colleague said that it was the best training she’d ever been on.  ‘Oh really?’, I thought.  ‘We’ll see about that!’

Well, reader, it turned out to be the best training I’d ever been on too.  ‘Oh really?’ I hear you say.  ‘Why was that then?’

Very skilled trainers – and they were very skilled both as trainers and as mediators; an eclectic mix of methods, exercises, information which drew together a powerful body of evidence, much of which I hadn’t been aware of previously; participants (pictured above) with an incredible breadth of experience and variety of backgrounds; an encouraging environment which enabled us to try out new techniques and support each other; and sufficient time for us to gel as a group, away from every day distractions.

So, how have I used my new skills since doing the training?  

My first two days back at work after the training were spent interviewing candidates for a promotion.  All that practice on the course of asking open questions really helped and I was able to relax and listen properly, so the next question was obvious.  

At home, my partner received some very difficult information.  She was struggling to process it and I used empathy, combined with open questioning to guide her to imagine how the other person had felt and what they might have been thinking.  This turned into a very profound conversation and I think that, prior to doing the course, I might have become irritated by how stuck she was initially and tuned out.

I’ve also used the techniques in an initial discussion on the issue which led me to taking the course.  I focussed on building empathy, seeing the situation from the perspective of the other players, asking open questions so they couldn’t just give me a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  That first encounter went well and I’m looking forward to our next meeting and a further chance to bring my new skills into play.

I’ve also reflected a lot about my impact on others and have held my ground in a highly stressful situation more confidently than perhaps would have been the case previously.

I plan to use these skills much more in future, and continue to learn and develop.  Thanks to everyone who made the course such a great experience.

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