During the on and off lockdowns of 2020, art was perhaps the best way to cope with isolation and the impossibility of seeing our family or friends. Just a quick note, in Portugal, one of the major publishing houses declared “saudade” (which roughly translates to “longing for someone or something”) as the word of the year in 2020. A good choice that shows the enormous distress a social species like us may experience in isolation.

However, enjoying the creativity of other human beings can help us deal with the “new normal.” What would our lives be like in a world without music, movies, series, paintings, or books? No doubt it would be duller, sadder, and less exciting.

Human creativity did not pale in front of the pandemic. On the contrary, we have it within ourselves to bring a different perspective on known things. One such example is the acronym ALOHA. I instantly thought about the Hawaiian word for love, affection, and kindness commonly used as a greeting. The acronym stands for “Ask, Listen, Observe, Help, Ask again” and is presented as a model for care workers. It might not be a particularly new thing, but I only came across it during the lockdown.

The care industry is not the only one that could use this acronym; the training industry could put it to good use as well.


Read more: How the pandemic transformed L&D


ALOHA, or the fundamentals of Learning and Development

Empathy is at the very core of ALOHA, and learning and development professionals will tell you that empathy has become central to the current organizational training initiatives. So let’s see how ALOHA can help us become better trainers and educators:

  • Ask

    It goes without saying: asking is the first step in becoming a more empathetic trainer or educator. When we ask questions, we show that we care about others’ ideas and are willing to step into their world. Or, in the words of C. JoyBell C.: “Empathy is the ability to step outside of your own bubble and into the bubbles of other people.” It is essential to ask as many questions as possible if we want to have a clear idea about our learners’ needs or potential customers’ needs.


    Read more: Top 3 soft skills to support when training a remote workforce

  • Listen

    Sometimes we tend to be too self-absorbed while delivering a training session. Am I saying the right things? Do I remember a concept or idea correctly? Is this the right order in which I should present the training materials? And while listening to that little voice inside our head, we lack the energy to listen to what our attendees are saying. We should make an effort and listen to them, instead of constantly listening to ourselves. More so in online training, because it is not always possible to note the body language, we don’t get enough real-time feedback.


    Read more: 4 Tips for effective listening during online professional events


  • Observe

    Another good reflex in training sessions is trying to observe the group dynamic and take the pulse of the room. Observation goes hand in hand with active listening and can work miracles. It is also a constant behavior of empathetic trainers and educators who want to better understand the individuals they have in front of them. When we carefully observe the group dynamic, we understand what works and what doesn’t in specific contexts. For instance, some people don’t feel comfortable working together, so perhaps it would be a good idea to either “break the ice” and help them know each other better.


    Read more: Why e-learning is perfect for introverts


  • Help

    The key element of any training program is to help people develop their skills, discover new things, and perform better in their professional careers. This is why the empathetic approach will be more effective in guiding people in their learning journey. It shows that the trainer is involved in that journey and is willing to help when the road becomes bumpy. Although they are not the same, education has a lot in common with care work: the common denominator is the willingness to help others.


    MATRIX White Paper: Thriving through change with continuous skills development for your workforce


  • Ask again

    When in doubt, ask again! It’s always a good idea to make sure that you really understand what is going on in the training room (either face to face or virtual), so feel free to ask questions.

Final remarks

As we have said previously, training and development have something in common with care work: the willingness to help others in an empathetic manner. This is why the ALOHA model might be a useful instrument for educators and trainers, especially in this context, when social distancing is the norm.

ALOHA to all trainers and educators out there!

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