How to Ask the Right Questions and Get Great Training

by Mike Sententia on August 25, 2011

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My plan for testing communication boiled down to:

  • Start with the simple communication: Have a spirit send me a message, and have him do all the hard steps to make communication work.
  • One step at a time, do more of the communication process myself instead of relying on the spirit.
  • Figure each step out, debug it, and re-test with the spirit, then add the next step.

Why not just ask the spirit how to do communication properly? Well, I’d already done that — shown him my full communication and asked him what I was doing wrong. He’d give me pointers, but never a full solution, never enough to do communication properly. So I wasn’t expecting too much from him.

But this time, he nailed every problem. We tested basic communication. (It worked fine). Then we added one step for me to do myself, and it stopped working. He watched me once, told me exactly what was wrong and how to fix it. And this wasn’t a one-off lucky fix. He’s 3 for 3 now in troubleshooting my communication.

What changed? What turned a disappointing teacher into a spot-on troubleshooter? It wasn’t him. It was me, figuring out how to ask for training properly.

See, before, I’d asked very broad question: “Look at this complex thing and tell me how to fix it.” Like taking a 1980s car to a mechanic, or bringing a buggy laptop in for repairs, it’s hard to say exactly what’s wrong. Sure, you can spot some problems, but making an exhaustive list? Not very likely.

Now, we had a single skill to debug, so he could focus on just a few problems. Then, knowing he was building on a good foundation, he could focus on just the next step, and nail down that problem too. By simplifying my question, I got much better training.

So that’s the real lesson from this: Good training is my responsibility. If I’m not getting it, it’s because I’m trying to fix too many problems at once. When that happens, I need to return to what I can do, ask the trainer to help me advance one small step, verify it, then repeat.

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