Are You Asking the “Second Question”?

October 1, 2014

Last week, we discussed how taking an honest look at yourself can help you to avoid becoming an avatar. Click here if you missed it.

This idea of avatarism has everything to do with Kirkpatrick evaluation. Avatars take exchanges at face value and never go beyond the safe script when interacting with others, which negatively impacts training and evaluation efforts.

Avatar trainers never bother to investigate the deeper meaning behind a statement, question or nonverbal cue. To be successful, training professionals must learn to recognize opportunities for deeper human interaction.
During your professional day, numerous opportunities exist for uncovering the gold dust or even substantial gold nuggets in your interactions with others. Below are several normal occurrences that you may encounter during or after a training program, followed by the probing “second question” that a non-avatar training professional might ask.

1. You see puzzled looks on the faces of training participants.

  • Non-avatar response: “I see some puzzled looks. What might you be wondering about?”

    2. You ask a class, “How do you think this will work back at your job?” and you get mostly silence.

    • Non-avatar response: “It seems as though you are apprehensive about actually applying this. What might be your concerns?”

      3. During a break, one of your participants says they wish their manager would attend the same training. 

      • Non-avatar response: “How might that help with this effort?”

        4. A training program graduate responds to your Level 3 group question “How are things going on the job?” with the vague answer “Pretty well.”

        • Non-avatar response: “Pretty well?”

          5. The supervisor of several of your training graduates asks if you can shorten the class.

          • Non-avatar response: “How are we not hitting the mark?”

            Look for these opportunities. It will take some practice to see them, but they are all around you during your work day. When you see or hear one that you think is worthy of probing, give it a try. Do not respond with your thoughts about what they said. Instead, as the second question and see what happens.

            Join the Discussion

            Have you ever tried asking the second question? What were your results? We’d love to hear your ideas on this topic. Here are some ways to join the conversation:


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            Additional Resources:

            Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level

            Use Active Training Evaluation Sonar to Maximize Training Value – Part 3

            “Pull Up a Chair” to Gain Qualitative Data

            Pull Up a Virtual Chair During Online Training Sessions

            Are You Willing to Disrupt Tradition?

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