trainingreality helping people work better with people
management training blog

We're not proud.
We take inspiration from everywhere.

Here's hoping that some of the
articles we've written
will inspire you too.

Making connections between seemingly disparate areas. Being intrigued by the things we see, hear and feel. Approaching the world with a sense of wonder. These are things that make us tick.

We hope that the articles below will intrigue you too. Challenge you. Make you think. We'd love you to comment on them, agree and support us, or disagree. Debate improves understanding, and that is something we are violently in favour of.

Please click on the picture or title next to each article to read more, or use the search box below.

opening lines

Opening lines

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

There is no doubt that first impressions count, but how much effort do we really put into the way we start conversations or presentations?

creating customer experiences

Your "reason for being"

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

As the new year starts with a number of high-profile retail businesses (Jessops, HMV) going into administration, it's never been more urgent to look at your reason for being, from your customers perspective...

most popular training articles

Training blogs of 2012 - a review

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Admittedly, these are all selected from our own articles, but these are the most popular ones as demonstrated by you, our readers. We've also included the least read ones, because most of you missed them the first time round!

management without rules

Management without rules

Friday, 29 June 2012

Rules and regulations, strict processes and procedures can be sticking plasters - covering up a lack of trust, capability and motivation in your organisation. Here's how to stop treating the symptoms.

when people don't fit

What happens when people don't fit?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Sometimes, things just don’t fit. And sometimes, people don’t fit either. The sheer force that needs to be applied to fit a square peg into a round hole can cause irreparable damage.

embodiment 2.0

Embodiment 2.0

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Our second ever guest blog - from the brilliant Mark Walsh at Integration Training: the opportunities presented by the problem of digital disembodiment

taking personal responsibility

Blaming inanimate objects

Thursday, 31 May 2012

"A bad workman always blames his tools". Surely that means we're all guilty of being "bad workmen" from time to time. Blaming inanimate objects is a real block to learning and development...

why it's good to compare apples with oranges

They're not the same as us

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

From early childhood, we're told that you can't compare apples and oranges. What rot. Learning from other organisations, however "different" is a hugely valuable experience.

protecting senior management from reality

Do you lock your senior managers in a "float tank"?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sometimes, just sometimes, teams, organisations and individuals go to great lengths to "protect" senior management from reality. But why do we really want to stop them seeing the way it is?

finding common ground

Finding common ground

Friday, 4 May 2012

If we focus on what we do, or how we do it, it can be tough to find common ground. Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle" model, and a glimmer of hope in the GM/anti-GM debate show that a focus on "why" can really help find common ground.

breaking the rules.png

Breaking (non-existent) rules

Monday, 19 March 2012

Rules rules rules. They really stop us doing some great stuff, don't they? Don't they? Or do we assume that they're there and forget to challenge them?

getting commitment to change

So what are YOU going to do?

Monday, 12 March 2012

It's very easy to say what "we" are going to do. And it's just as easy to listen to that and let people get away with saying it. But what are they, personally going to do, and what are you, personally going to do? Nail ’em, and yourself, to the wall.

standing out from the crowd

Are you bold enough to stand out?

Friday, 2 February 2012

Whether we're talking about an organisation or an individual, it can be frightening (and feel risky) to really stand out and be different. But the alternative is to be labelled "vanilla", or worse.

most popular training articles

Training blogs of 2011 - a review

Friday, 20 January 2012

Admittedly, these are all selected from our own articles, but these are the most popular ones as demonstrated by you, our readers. We've also included the least read ones, because most of you missed them the first time round!

managing your customer's experience

Managing customer experiences

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Standardising some things in business is pretty easy - the product, the packaging, the imagery. But how on earth do you create consistency in the single most important area - customer service and the customer experience?

are you really successful?

Picking apart your own successes

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Learning from failure, even if some aren't brave enough to call it failure, can be very useful. But it's also vital to pick apart your successes, even if only to check it wasn't a fluke.

teambuilding that actually works

A fun day out shouldn't be mistaken for teambuilding

Monday, 12 September 2011

I know that journalists don't always present a perfectly balanced picture of the world. But some teambuilding companies do shoot themselves in the foot sometimes...

making yourself ask the right questions

Why don't we ask why?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Something stops us. Regularly. We leap in with solutions, we talk over people, we offer our wisdom, we relate what they are saying directly to our experience...essentially, we make it all about us and much less about them. Why?

asking the right questions

Why should we ask why?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

I'm convinced that this is the single, most powerful question that anyone can ask. It can help enormously with building relationships, selling, developing products, designing systems and processes, and much, much more. Yet it is, for some understandable, but unhelpful, reasons, underused.

smart decision making

Well-rounded decision making

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

There are (at least) two sides to every argument, and (at least) two different possible positions to take on any decision. Don't let your ownership of one position take over...

open honest price communication

Open, honest, straightforward communication...even on price!

Friday, 8 July 2011

We are enormous advocates of straightforward communication. Use simple words, be direct, and ensure your message gets across with crystal clarity. So why is it so hard to answer the question "how much do you charge?"

most popular training articles

Training blogs of 2011 - first six months

Friday, 1 July 2011

Admittedly, these are all selected from our own articles, but these are the most popular ones as demonstrated by you, our readers. We've also included the least read ones, because most of you missed them the first time round!

stress, the inferior function, and teamwork

Stress, teamwork, and the MBTI Inferior Function

Thursday, 30th June 2011

Using the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) in a truely practical fashion can help enormously with avoiding, and mitigating the effects of workplace stress. But it has to be about the practical application, not the theory.

exceed your customer expectations

Set high customer expectations, but don't dash them

Friday, 3rd June 2011

Allowing your potential customers to try something for free can be great marketing. Just don't disappoint them, whatever you do...

training for production line teams

Interpersonal skills are vital if you work with machines...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

We help people work better with people. And one of the most essential areas we do this in is where the focus is usually on people working better with machines. That's just not good enough.

proactive not reactive

"Be proactive, not reactive", and other clichés

Monday, 21 March 2011

There is only one sort of action that I really want to do when I hear this phrase, and it's not one that generally goes down very well...

target setting

Be careful what you ask for

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

...or you might just get it. A surprising number of targets lead to inevitable but unforseen and unintended consequences. And you can park in the middle of Seville...!

stakeholders and management jargon

"Involve all stakeholders", and other clichés

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

This is the fourth article in this mini-series trying to resurrect some of the worst, most overused management clichés out there, by trying to extract their real meaning - something that is often forgotten now they've become generic terms bandied about willy-nilly.

CEO's and customer service

If the monkey's no good, talk to the organ grinder

Friday, 25 February 2011

Getting frustrated by call centres is pretty common. But how common is it to call the CEO to get things sorted? It works...

jet2 customer service

Customer service - an update from the front line!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A great example of customer service - It's not linked to price, and it's the cheapest marketing you can ever do.

win win situation

"Win-win situation", and other clichés

Thursday, 17 February 2011

"Win-win". Or, for the even trendier (worse) out there, "win-win-win". It's a real struggle for me to be even remotely positive about this cliché, but I'm going to try...

great and awful customer service

Customer service by sector - the good, the bad and the ugly

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A rapidly thrown together article, and I'd love your help. Where do you struggle to choose a supplier because they're all as bad as each other? Or all as good? And how can we improve the dreadful ones?

management cliche thinking outside the box

"Think outside the box", and other clichés

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! "Thinking outside the box" must be one of the most common, and most irritating, management clichés out there. All you need to do is "think outside the box" and all your problems will be solved. Yeah, right.

management cliche helicopter view

Take a "Helicopter View", and other clichés

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

One thing that really niggles away at me in the work I do is the ever present danger of descending into clichés, particularly because, in the management and business training field, there are so many of them.

sitting on the fence

Sitting on the fence

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

It’s time for a fightback for those of us who think that sitting on the fence can be the best possible place to be. There are significant dangers in choosing one side or the other...

I'm all ears

Are you really "all ears"?

Monday, 17 January 2011

Listening. It’s one of those things that trainers and coaches bang on about ad nauseum. It’s a key part of most management training courses these days, and rightly so. And yet it’s one of those things that is still overlooked, misunderstood, and that fails to integrate with our self-understanding and awareness.

forget your worries

Don't worry, be happy

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Thinking about things before you do them is, generally, a smart approach to take. But, as with most things, it's useful to strike an appropriate balance, and it is easily possible to think too much.

a new type of resolution

A new type of resolution

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

So, following on from the last blog about a new style of New Year Resolutions, I’m going to start with a few, right here. As the year progresses, I expect, and am comfortable with, changes to this plan, because it’s the approach that is more important than the detail.

challenge yourself

New Year, New Challenges

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

I can't quite believe, sitting back at my desk after a few days away, that I've only just noticed that my last blog was in early September last year! Perhaps it's time for a New Year Resolution or two...

most popular training articles

Training blogs of the year

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Admittedly, these are all selected from our own articles, but these are the most popular ones as demonstrated by you, our readers. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

great product or service

My product's great, but...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

It’s great. I know it is. My customers know it is. The end users give it the best ratings possible. We’ve cracked it...surely...haven’t we?

accidents will happen

Accidents happen

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Accidents happen. Mistakes happen as well. Both happen far more than necessary, and, I would argue, both words are regularly misused.

conflicting priorities

Piggy in the middle?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Although, to me, the picture above looks rather comfortable and cosy, being the piggy in the middle is rarely so. Unfortunately, it can also be a pretty common place to find yourself in when setting up a new business.

it's all too difficult

It's tougher than I thought...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Ever had that sinking feeling? The one where you are really regretting a decision you’ve taken? When you wish you’d left that idea as an idea, and not actually tried to put it into action? You’re not alone...

get what you want

You can't always get what you want...

Monday, 16 August 2010

The majority of people seem either to have a absolute love of, or an absolute horror of, negotiation. Here's the story of one entrepreneur's experience...

doing it yourself or buying in expertise

Must you "go it alone"?

Monday, 24 May 2010

Starting up your own business is often thought of as "going it alone", and it is...but that doesn't mean doing everything yourself. Here, Hazel McLellan of shares her experience in the first of our business start-up guest blogs...

business planning

Business planning?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Are business plans worth the paper they're written on? Are they an essential part of a business start-up, or simply a distraction from the real work that needs to be done?

small business start-up

The true story of a new small business

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

This forthcoming series of articles will take you through the real launch of a new business, which has taken place in a mad, rushed, crazy four week period; a business that started trading on May 1st 2010.

tools for being more creative

Be creative - improvise!

Friday, 9 April 2010

A single individuals brain operates very differently under different circumstances. fMRI scans of jazz musicians improvising can teach us a lot

low expectations are unhelpful and unfair

Low expectations: have them and they'll come true

Monday, 29 March 2010

Low expectations are cruel. They can be meant in a kind way: making allowances, offering justifications, being reasonable. But they are more often cruel

distorting the truth through misuse of language

Twisted language and distorted meanings

Wednesday, 26 March 2010

Becoming more aware of the (conscious or unconscious) linguistic tricks that politicians – and "normal" people – use helps enormously in enriching our understanding of what is really going on

learning from and about others

Real, open-minded, learning

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

There are a million and one ways to learn, as an individual, a team, or an organisation, but it's still wonderful when a great new learning tool comes along. Here's a rather different one:

choose your direction

Choose your direction

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Management training. Experiential challenges. Machismo. Have I put you off yet? If you simply want a high adrenalin, fun day out, perhaps not. But if you really, genuinely want to learn, I hope I have.

being one of the crowd

...or being yourself, continued

Monday, 15 March 2010

This article looks at the sweet-spot – authentic behaviour – from the point of view of the individual.

being one of the crowd

...or being yourself

Friday, 12 March 2010

This article is going to explore the challenge of balancing permission (and encouragement) for employee authenticity with the real, practical business needs of the organisation

being one of the crowd

...versus behavioural singularity...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Those people who are deliberately different. The people who make an effort to stand out from the crowd. The people who choose to take the opposing view

being one of the crowd

Corporate conformity

Friday, 5 March 2010

Being different can be challenging. Being different can unnerve, upset, irritate and anger others. Being different can be the best thing you'll ever be

risk, leadership and management

Risk, leadership and management

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

As we emerge from this recession, how will people's approach to risk have changed based on what they have been through, and how does risk – and our perception of it – alter as situations change?

limits of freedom in organisations

Freedom, management and organisations

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I'm constantly intrigued by the challenge of balancing genuine freedom with the (sometimes harsh) practicalities of the real world

nlp reframing

Conversational reframing

Monday, 22 February 2010

One aspect of politics that is becoming ever more prevalent, particularly in the run up to the general election, is "reframing"

decision paralysis

Frozen by indecision

Friday, 19 February 2010

Have you even been completely, utterly, frozen and paralysed by indecision?

doubt or uncertainty

Doubt and uncertainty

Monday, 15 February 2010

This series of articles is now covering the continuum from absolute, irrevocable certainty through to eternal and enduring doubt, with a bit of positive mental attitude in the middle

leading challenging teams

How to lead

Friday, 12 February 2010

Way back at the beginning of November, I wrote about the sacking of Professor David Nutt

making mountains out of molehills

Are they mountains or molehills?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Different people have different things that are important to them. What is important to one person might be utterly, utterly trivial to the next.

positive mental attitude

Positive Mental Attitude

Friday, 5 February 2010

The last article in this little series looked at the characteristic of simply knowing that you're right about something.

leadership of unswerving belief

I'm right, and I know I am

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

This article looks at the four characteristics on the "I'm right" spectrum, and see how they impact the wonderful attitude of determination

being a rock, or going with the flow

Be a rock, or go with the flow

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Today's article is about determination. It is one of the characteristics of successful people that I most admire

giving a straight answer

Ducking the question

Monday, 25 January 2010

About a month ago, I was listening to a report on the causes and impact of people in the public eye "ducking the question"

motivation - carrot and/or stick

Motivation is what we need...

Friday, 22 January 2010

A lot of training out there in the market talks about skills training - but dig deeper, and we're actually talking about attitude

nlp anchors and anchoring memories

NLP anchors and anchoring

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

In NLP, one of the most powerful concepts, which can become one of the most powerful techniques, is anchoring.

new idea generation

New ideas or the same old thing?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Particularly in uncertain times, there is a significant tension between playing it safe versus doing something very different.

goal and target setting

Are we nearly there yet?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The title of this article ranks pretty high on my list of all-time annoying phrases, when used in its traditional context, but it is also one of the most crucial phrases when managing change.

teamwork and trust

Teamwork and trust

Friday, 11 December 2009

Seth Godin's blog earlier this week was a customer-service related one, and tied into his very insightful approach to marketing and social media.

delegation and management

I "do" it my way - again!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

This is a (slightly belated) follow-up to the article on the 20th October about the difficulties that some of us face in leadership and management.

t mobile customer service

How to lose a customer

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A very quick blog entry today, but I felt I had to write about a wonderfully poor customer service experience with T-Mobile.

stress at work

Stress and the good stuff

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I've been doing a lot of work recently, and even more thinking, about stress and how it can affect people differently.

misleading certainties

Spurious certainties

Monday, 30 November 2009

Black or white. Yes or no. Specific. Measurable. Defined. All very useful things, in their place.

thoughtful communication

Google Wave = Thoughtless Communication?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

I'm a big fan of the slow food movement, which is rapidly approaching its 20th anniversary. Years ago, when I first read

bad management models

Bad modelling

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Management training is full of models, and some of them are very useful indeed. Used with care.

thinking things through

Broad consequences

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I'm not sure I agree with the AA awarding the Inland Revenue two stars.

nlp anchors

Learning maths through dance

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) deals with "anchors" quite a lot - those things (noises, smells, sounds, words and so on)

being observant

Find what you're looking for

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A lovely little exercise I often use is one about how we notice things - how we filter our view on the world.

tough love and management

Tough Love

Monday, 9 November 2009

With a new baby on the way (8 weeks and counting), I was interested from a personal point of view in last week's Demos report into parenting.

stress from management

Bad management and stress

Friday, 6 November 2009

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said in a recent report that the cost of work related mental illness was £28 billion.

dissent at work

Leadership and support

Monday, 2 November 2009

The recent news that Alan Johnson has sacked the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was covered on tonight's PM programme.


Managing the admin

Friday, 30 October 2009

Most people, in my experience, have at least some of their time when the paperwork mounts up.

power of silence

Silence is golden - and powerful

Monday, 26 October 2009

A lot has been written over the last few days about Nick Griffin's appearance on BBC's Question Time.

honest communication

Authentic communication

Thursday, 22 October 2009

When training communication skills, regardless of who is doing the training, a lot of similar material is covered.

art of delegation

I "do" it my way

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

One problem I've personally faced (and continue to face), and one that I regularly see in a number of contexts, is the challenge of being able to step back.

being open and honest

Playing your cards close to your chest?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

On our management training courses here at trainingreality, one of the basic principles we operate under is openness.

great teams

Teamwork - Part 1

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I headed down from Yorkshire to the New Forest for a weekend.

glass half full

Optimism, pessimism and reality - Part 3

Friday, 9 October 2009

The third, and (potentially) final part of the series on the balance, the strengths and weaknesses, and the implications of optimism versus pessimism versus reality.

association and dissociation

Are you disconnected?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Today, I want to explore the challenge and value in understanding and developing differences in experience.

positive corporate image

People are your corporate image

Friday, 2 October 2009

A couple of weeks ago, as part of my marketing plan for trainingreality, I directly e-mailed 75 CEO's.

presentation skills

Presentation skill #1 - Enthusiasm

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Do a quick search on Google for "presentation skills" (no quotes) and you are faced with over 18 million results.

learning from mistakes

The power of failure

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Failure is one of those words that many trainers strive to avoid, sometimes replacing it with the management-speak jargon.

stress at work

Systems undermine sense

Friday, 25 September 2009

If I hadn't been driving at the time, I'd have thrown my hands up in despair.

voice tonality

Matching voice tonality

Thursday, 17 September 2009

NLP offers a great range of techniques for getting people to where you want them to be - some of which can be misused.

imitation is flattery

Imitation is flattery!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

A very quick blog entry here.

being observant

How observant are we?

Friday, 11 September 2009

Last weekend, I was reminded of a pattern in a fictional detective's approach (possibly Poirot, but I'm not certain, anyone know?)

working under pressure

Planning versus pressure

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

As a big fan of the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), I tend to both consciously and subconsciously filter much of what I experience.

great customer service

Customer Service - Part 2

Friday, 4 September 2009

Last week, I wrote about the power of the little things that make the difference.

glass half empty

Optimism, pessimism and reality - Part 2

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Part 1 of Optimism, pessimism and reality focussed on the potential pitfalls of a generally pessimistic approach to life.

learning customer service

Customer Service - Part 1

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Customer service, and the impact it can have on businesses, has been at the forefront of my mind for some time now.

using luck


Monday, 24 August 2009

I've been lucky today. Been in the right place at the right time.

getting the balance right

NLP and a step too far

Friday, 21 August 2009

One of the most powerful aspects, for me, of NLP is the underlying principle that we, as individuals, are responsible for our reactions to the behaviour of others.

non verbal communication

93% of communication is (not) non-verbal

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

I was recently asked to come up with a few examples of "the worst 'HR consultancy speak' phrases" I'd ever heard.

barking up the wrong tree

Barking up the wrong tree

Sunday, 16 August 2009

One of the common themes on the management training course we run is the challenge of moving to action.

glass half full or half empty

Optimism, pessimism and reality - Part 1

Monday, 10 August 2009

Are you a glass half full, glass half empty, or "who's round is it next" type of person?

working through the maze

Questions Questions

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I've decided to risk being potentially political for this post, but be reassured that the politics is not the real point.

just following a script

Getting to yes!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Time to start with an apology - this blog entry is not specifically about Roger Fisher's book of the same title.

powerful language

Language and behaviour

Friday, 31 July 2009

Yet again, it's a Radio 4 inspired blog today - one of those programmes that you catch a little bit of on a car journey.

promoted too far

The perils of promotion

Monday, 27 July 2009

I come from a family in which teaching is a pretty common career choice - my mum was until retirement, and my sister currently is.

motion creates emotion physiology

Motion creates emotion

Friday, 24 July 2009

I was reminded about one of my favourite films today.

keep your eye on the ball

Taking your own medicine

Monday, 20 July 2009

During my recent NLP practitioner course, I had the privilege of meeting and working with some fantastic people.

rollercoaster at work

Passion & Pragmatism

Thursday, 16 July 2009

I've spent a fair bit of time over the last couple of years or so providing formal and informal advice to people setting up their own businesses.

move to action

Time for action

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The graffiti on this section of the Berlin Wall reads:

principled training

The pleasure of principles

Friday, 10 July 2009

You may already have been on our principles page (if not, take a look later), and it is probably our most important page.

state management

State Management v Superstition

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

State management is one of the most powerful NLP techniques.

doing the impossible

"The Impossibles"

Thursday, 2 July 2009

One aspect of NLP is the Meta Model, and one little piece of that is known technically as "Modal Operators of Possibility", or "The Impossibles" as I prefer.

yes men

The man from Del Monte - he say "no"!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

It's a classic statement (but how often is it really true?) that people at the top of organisations say that they don't want to be surrounded by "yes men".

conforming to type

Your personality, "trained out of you"

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Apprentice 2009 has finished, so I've got my Wednesday nights back.

different perspectives

Looking at things differently

Monday, 1 June 2009

I was rather taken with part of a recent episode of Genius, on BBC1.