Thanks to CPD, in-service days and annual legal refreshers, it’s impossible to avoid attending some kind of training course during your working life. Some courses are great, you get the day off work, lunch is provided and your trainer lets you knock off early. Others involve mind-numbingly dull speakers droning on about tedious subjects (and those are always the ones that run over time). Most of the time, I’m the one running the training sessions, but I do have to attend some, too. When I do, I like to pass the time by people spotting. You can fit most participants on any training course into at least one of the following:

The Know-it-all

The Know-it-all exists on a sliding scale from reluctant to insufferable. The reluctant know-it-all is smart, quick to understand the topic and probably has lots of valuable experience in the area of study. They’ll wait to see if anyone else will venture an answer to questions before timidly raising their own hand. Sit next to them and copy their notes. Steer clear of the insufferable know-it–all, they know everything and can’t wait to prove it. They’ll correct the trainer, interrupt others and generally do whatever they can to show off their knowledge on the subject. Avoid sitting next to them at lunch.

The Penny

Just like her namesake in The Big Bang Theory, the Penny (who can be a guy or a girl) just doesn’t quite get it. No matter how hard they try, the subject matter seems to hit a point 5cm north of their brain. Everyone has a topic that they struggle with – except the insufferable Know-it-all – and we’ll all find ourselves in this role at some time. Remember, the trainer is there to help. So ask for it! Even if you’d rather wait until the break to have a quiet word with the trainer, we’d rather know you’re struggling while there’s still time to do something about it.

The Riddler

“Any questions?” As a trainer, you have to ask that, but when you’ve got a Riddler in your group you say it tentatively. So. Many. Questions. They’re the reason why you had to skip the afternoon tea break in order to finish on time. On a positive note, all the extra explanations should give the Penny a bit of help.

Image from
“I’m just here for the Q&A section.”

The Scribbler

This person is constantly writing. Whether they’re furiously taking notes, making a shopping list or doodling, you’ll never know. It’s best not to question it too much. That way, madness lies.

The Resistant Learner

They don’t want to be here, think it’s a waste of time and can think of a million other things they’d rather be doing. They’ll huff and grumble throughout the entire course, probably muttering under their breath about how useless the experience is. Try to ignore them and they might go away.

The One Who Can’t Say No

They probably don’t want to be there, but their boss asked them to go and they couldn’t refuse. We all know one of these people in life, they say yes before they’ve considered if they actually have the time and energy to do it. If this is you, ask yourself if you actually want to do the training, or did you just not want to disappoint your boss?

The Dropout

There’s always one. In any group, on any training course, you’ll find there’s one person who doesn’t stay the distance. As a trainer, we sort of hope it’s the Resistant Learner and we’d gutted if it’s the Penny. Sometimes, it’s the One Who Can’t Say No and that’s probably a good thing. If they leave on day one, that’s fine, if they do the whole course then drop out on the last day, that’s annoying.

OK, be honest, which one are you?

Join our tribe

We promise to pop a whole host of good stuff into your inbox every Wednesday to brighten up your week. Can't say fairer than that now can we?

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.