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Training courses in professional interviewing

Communicating means more than just saying what you have to say. Distinguishing observations from interpretations, active listening and putting yourself in the other person's shoes are important skills. In our conversation skills training you learn to use specific conversation techniques at the right moment.


7 obstacles to effective listening

Do you really listen to the feedback of others or the reaction to your feedback? Really listening to what others say is not something that comes naturally, but needs attention and practice. Everyone is guilty of half-hearted listening in whatever situation. But why is good listening so difficult? And how do you avoid the pitfalls of poor listening? There are seven types of listening that have a negative impact on your ability to really listen with attention. We discuss them with you below!

1. Evaluative listening. Evaluative listening is characterised by the fact that the other person always agrees or disagrees with you. Everything that is said is evaluated, which means that you miss information from the other person. The danger with evaluative listening is that after every remark a counter argument follows and you no longer try to understand each other.

2. Self-protective listening. When a person is so focused on their own story and full of emotions that there is no room for another person's story, this is called self-protective listening. There is a chance that the person will retreat into the negative emotions again and again. This makes it difficult to conduct the conversation in a rational manner.

3. Listening on assumption. Assumption-based listening is one of the most common forms of bad listening and can be recognised by thinking in advance about what the other person is going to say instead of listening to what they are actually saying. Assumptions are made and can get in the way of the conversation. Assumptions are the hardest to let go of if the person in question has had similar experiences in the past.

4. Judgmental listening. Judgmental listening is when you criticise everything someone else says, disagreeing completely and criticising everything they say. The other person will stop giving their opinion because they are tired or frightened by the reactions.

5. Affirmative listening. During affirmative listening, you mainly want your opinion to be recognised and confirmed, and you only listen from that perspective. You focus only on whether or not the other person agrees with your ideas.

6. Defensive listening. With defensive listening, the other person sees everything you say as offensive. You are constantly defending yourself and do not take the time to understand other perspectives.

7. Authoritative listening. Authoritative listening means that you always want to give the other person urgent advice and prove that you are right. The combination makes the other person feel like they can't figure things out for themselves. You want to be in control and guarantee that things are done the way you want them to be.

Training in giving and receiving feedback

Did you know that Learnit offers a training on feedback? During our training Giving and receiving feedback you learn to give and receive feedback in a constructive way, including effective listening. you work with the possibilities for end users as well as setting up and designing a site yourself. Click here for more information about the training course or to register now.


Tips for a good sales conversation

You want to have a sales conversation without being too "salesy", but you also want to sell your offer. How do you do that properly? It can be quite difficult to convince the other person to buy your stuff, especially if you don't start the conversation in the right way. Preparing for the meeting is half the battle, but you also need to bring out and apply the right skills during the meeting. To make it easier for you, Learnit has put together a number of tips to help you have a successful sales conversation!

Preparing for the interview

Through good preparation, you show that you take the other person seriously and want to put energy into the relationship. This will give the other person a good feeling about the conversation and you will already have your first advantage. Below are a number of tips for good preparation:

  • Study the customer's website and know the customer history;
  • Have the purpose of the conversation clear in your mind;
  • Think about possible pain points at branch, organisation and function level;
  • Gather enough information about the industry or company and check references;
  • Bring appropriate promotional materials with you.

Opening of the conversation

During the opening of the sales conversation, it is important that you get a professional and personal click, which creates openness towards each other. A calm demeanour is very important here, but there are also a number of other tips that can help with a good opening:

  • Know what function your interlocutor has and adapt to his/her behaviour;
  • State the objective of the meeting and propose an agenda;
  • Make an elevator pitch about your own company;
  • Discover the expectations of the interlocutor.

Taking stock of the conversation

The way in which questions are asked also influences whether the conversation goes well or badly. Structured questioning ensures that you find out the most important buying needs of the company and the conversation partner. But how do you do that?

  • Ask many targeted open questions and collect the right information that way;
  • Listen, summarise and ask in-depth questions about details;
  • Ask questions focusing on the present, past and near future;
  • Take active notes and take a break now and then.

Closing the conversation

The aim is to whet the appetite of the conversation partner and thus get a yes to your proposal. Here are a few tips on how to close the conversation:

  • Summarise the most important needs and ask if it is correct and complete;
  • Translate the services of your own company into customer benefits for the interlocutor;
  • Ask for the background to any objections;
  • Ask for the assignment with enthusiasm.

Training on Sales

Do you want to learn more about conducting the perfect sales conversation? Then our training Sales: selling with results'. is really something for you! During this 2-day training you will work with the most important aspects of selling and apply it to your own situation. Click here for more information about the training or to register now.


The core competences of a coach

A coach has a great deal of knowledge about people and behaviour and can use this to make a difference. Because of the great knowledge of behaviour, the coach can, together with the coachee, change behaviour and behavioural patterns. The tasks of a trainer and a coach differ in their approach. The trainer conveys knowledge and can make someone practice non-behaviour with practical assignments, but the coach will stimulate more self-insight by asking the right questions. To be able to do this well, a coach needs to have different skills. Learnit has listed the 11 most important competences of a coach for you below!

Laying the foundation

  • Competence 1: Respecting ethical guidelines and acting professionally A coach treats information obtained from the coachee with confidentiality and knows the limits of his own competence. If something is beyond his/her capabilities, he/she will refer the coach to specialists.
  • Competency 2: Shaping the coaching relationship To ensure the best possible collaboration between coach and coachee, clear agreements are needed that shape the coaching relationship and the coaching process. The needs of the coachee are explored and an appropriate plan is made.

Shaping the relationship

  • Competence 3: Building trust. The coach should be able to create a safe environment where respect and trust are shown towards each other. The coachee should always feel encouraged in that environment.
  • Competency 4: Being a true coach. A coach should be present without dominating and build an open relationship with the coachee. The responsibility should remain with the coachee, but the coach dares to take the lead in the coaching relationship in a decisive manner.

Communicating effectively

  • Competency 5: Active listening. A coach should be able to pick up on all verbal and non-verbal signals from the coachee, including emotional signals. The coachee's thoughts, feelings, and intentions are very important here, and the coach should be able to concentrate fully on them. This allows the coachee to feel free to express himself further.
  • Competency 6: Asking the right questions The coach should be able to ask the right questions that provide information from the coachee that can be used for further work. Through clear answers, the coach can provide maximum support to the coachee.
  • Competency 7: Communicating directly. To understand each other as well as possible, there should be direct communication in a language that both the coach and the coachee understand. The coach should also dare to confront the coachee, whereby it is important to maintain mutual respect.

Promoting the learning process and achieving results

  • Competency 8: Raising awareness. A coach should be able to focus the coachee's attention on the process and goals. By allowing him to reflect on his own actions and come up with solutions to problems, the coach helps the coachee discover himself.
  • Competency 9: Developing actions Together with the coachee, appropriate actions should be devised that will achieve the desired result. There should be opportunities for continued learning.
  • Competence 10: Formulating goals and plans The coachee's attention should be directed to the future and goals should be formulated. If a coachee gets stuck in a problem, the coach should dare to confront him, pulling him out of a fixed pattern.
  • Competence 11: Promote progress and take responsibility Stimulate the coachee on self-discipline by encouraging the taking of responsibility.

Coaching Skills Training

Do you meet the above competences or do you want to develop them by learning about coaching skills? Then our training Coaching skills: basic practical techniques. In this training you not only learn the difference between a trainer and a coach, but you also experience the impact of coaching. After this training you will know how to use the techniques and skills in practice! Click here to read more about the training or to register directly. link]

Negotiating, how to do it well? In conversation with Rob!

During negotiations, you do your best to get what you want. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to reach a win-win solution. How do you ensure that the relationship remains good while negotiating? Whether it is negotiating at work, with the neighbours or in your home situation; ultimately it is about the interests of you and the other coming together. In the free webinar from 10 June between 13:00 - 13:30 Learnit expert Rob shares knowledge and tips about negotiating with you so that next time you will be able to negotiate without problems with the people around you. In this interview with Rob you get a taste of what you can expect during the webinar!

Hey Rob! June 10, you're giving a free webinar on negotiating, can you tell us why negotiating well is often so difficult?

Rob: "I think that good negotiation is often possible, but it becomes difficult when emotions are involved. For example: the loud music of your neighbours bothers you. You can't sleep because of it, just as you are about to give an important presentation at work tomorrow. After hesitating for a while, you decide to say something. Conversations like that don't always end well. At a certain point, it can be difficult to understand the other person's situation. And then the chance of a good outcome is often gone.

Are there certain techniques or qualities that make it easier for a person to negotiate?

Rob: "I see many people negotiating mainly with themselves: what do I want? How can I get what I want? What am I going to say? If you magnify that, someone is getting ready for a kind of fight. That will never be a pleasant conversation for the other person. And if there is a winner, there is also a loser. So what makes it easier is to think to yourself beforehand: it must also be a good deal for the other person. And I want us both to come out well. Such a starting point is a good basis for a good conversation. Then the other person feels that you want something for them too, and they are also prepared to give you something. About the neighbour with his loud music: if he notices that you want him to have a nice evening, the conversation will be very different.

In what situations do you use your negotiating skills?

Rob: "I am married and have children, so every day, haha! I especially notice that I am better at it than average during meetings with several people. For example, during board meetings of a board of which I am a member. Because of my trainers' experience, I find it easier to see different sides of an issue and to bring them together.

Is the free webinar planned mainly for people who have to deal with negotiations at work, or will it also help you if you want to master negotiation in your personal life?

Rob: "Yes, both! And finally, there is one last form: negotiating with yourself. For example between your intellect and your feelings. But I tell more about that during the webinar :-)".

The free webinar on 10 June between 13:00 - 13:30

Have you become enthusiastic about his free webinar after reading this interview with Rob? Then click on this link for more information and registration. Rob is looking forward to use his own expertise and experience to take your negotiations to the next level!


Leading in a new world: in conversation with Anna Maria

Leadership during and after the COVID-19 pandemic requires a different kind of view. In this blog, we therefore talk to Learnit expert trainer Anna Maria. Within Learnit she bears a large responsibility for all training in the field of leadership, through the years she has gathered a lot of knowledge and experience within this field.

To help you be the leader your employees need during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Learnit is hosting an interactive webinar on April 29 between 13:00 - 13:30 called: "Online leadership". Click here for more information. To give you a sneak preview, Anna Maria tells you more about the webinar in the interview below.

Hi Anna Maria! That sounds exciting that "Online world", could you outline what you expect this world to look like for executives?

In the online world, I see managers working more on results and paying more attention to the person behind the employee. A more equal way of working together is developing, in which connection and trust are key words.

Could you please indicate the advantages of this new way of leadership?

Managers can experience an enormous growth with this, also as people. You invest in a sustainable relationship with your team members, which means that there will be much less working based on fear and distrust. This gives peace and confidence in your employees and also in yourself as a manager. And if you manage by results, you can focus on the big picture, on the development of your team and your department. A very big advantage.

And what about the disadvantages?

The most important disadvantage, in my opinion, is the lack of contact, the informal moments, the little compliments you can pay in between, the empathy, the ability to make adjustments. And of course it is also more difficult to keep an eye on whether an employee is able to do everything. And the induction of new people, for example, also becomes a greater challenge.

What mistakes do you think managers will make relatively more often with this new way of leadership?

For me, the risk lies mainly in the mindset, the focus of a manager. If you work and communicate on the basis of the old normal, you will lose your grip on your team. And then the results will also come under pressure. For example, wanting to check whether an employee starts exactly at 8 a.m. and works until 5 p.m., or wanting to know exactly how an employee performs a task.

You will be giving an interactive webinar on this subject on 29 April, can you give us a hint of what you will be discussing?

In this webinar, I discuss what is changing and what this means for an executive. And I give tips on how you, as a manager, can make the change from old to new: steering for results and leading from a position of connection and trust.

Sounds good! And what if I am not an executive myself, is it interesting to participate in the interactive webinar?

Yes, it does. It gives you insight into what changes for a manager, but also for team members and employees. You get a better idea of how you can help each other make the change.

Curious? Then click here for more information about the interactive webinar and register!


Online advice, how do you go about it? In conversation with trainer Saar!

Giving advice via online communication channels, it is something that many employees have to do these days, but it is not yet self-evident for everyone. How do you make sure that your advice comes across well and what do you need to do to be as convincing as possible? Whether it is advice that you give to your colleague, your boss, your client or even your partner; in the end, it revolves around a number of important basic principles. In the interactive webinar Successful online consulting On 13 April between 09:30 - 12:30, expert trainer Saar will share knowledge and tips with you so that you can take the next step in effective online advice. In this blog we talk to her!

Ha Saar! 13 April you are giving an interactive webinar about online advice, can you briefly explain the difference between online advice and giving advice in 'real life'?

Saar: "When giving advice in real life, you are in the same room with your conversation partner. You see each other and feel and notice from the other person's non-verbal behaviour how the advice is received, whether your information has been received correctly or whether there is possible resistance. We miss a lot of this information when we advise someone online because we simply cannot see the other person as well. Signals that we normally pick up from non-verbal behaviour are therefore more difficult to read. This means that an advisor has to use other skills when advising online in order to land his or her message effectively and convincingly in order to maintain the connection with the discussion partner and ensure that the advice is appropriate."

A lot of research has already been done on (successful) giving advice. Can you give us a small taste of the theory that will be presented during this webinar?

Saar: "Successful counselling is about being able to meet the needs of the other without losing sight of your own objectives. This is only possible by getting the right information and knowing exactly what the other person wants, so that you can then adjust your role as advisor to that need and tailor your advice accordingly. During the webinar, we will therefore look at the various roles an advisor can have, in which situation you want to play which role and how you can steer towards this (From: Roles of the advisor; Edward Schein). We will also zoom in on what online conversation techniques there are to get your conversation partner to move along with your advice (From: Influencing skills model, Jan Bijker)."

Can you tell us something about your own background, for example, how did you develop into an expert in the counselling skills field?

Saar: "In my past role as a consultant, I had to deal with many advisory meetings. Also within Learnit I have many consultancy sessions where the customer is very diverse. I speak with clients but also with participants of my training, with executive or HR managers, with colleagues or with Learnit itself. These conversations are about picking up the customer's question, listening and showing understanding, but also about thinking along with the customer when I have to offer a solution for a certain problem with my training, or being able to steer when a customer expects things from me that I cannot deliver or when I see things differently. What I have learned is that giving good advice is often about staying connected and being able to connect to the needs of the other without losing yourself in the process. The moment I don't connect adequately with the other person or make promises I can't keep, an additional effect is that the other person has the idea that he or she doesn't feel helped by me in a pleasant or correct way. In the meantime, I have given many training sessions in this area, both within municipal authorities and commercial organisations. Being able to connect to those needs, communicating transparently and creating the right expectations (what is my role and what is the client's role) are themes that keep coming back.

Is the interactive webinar planned mainly for people who have to deal with counselling skills at work, or will this webinar also benefit you if you want to further develop your counselling skills in your personal life?

Saar: "Both! I think you can use a lot of the information I share during this webinar in your personal life as well, since it's mostly about communicating effectively online and skills you can use to get another person to move. So this information is also very applicable to other online meetings and online conversations. I will also cover what you can do to be more convincing and powerful online and how you can effectively land your message, even if you can only partially see the other person. So for anyone who wants to boost his or her online conversation skills, this webinar is also very suitable!"

The interactive webinar on 13 April between 09:30 - 12:30

Have you become enthusiastic about her interactive webinar after reading this interview with Saar? Then click on this link for more information and register. Saar is looking forward to start the conversation with you and to use her own expertise and experience to take your (online) consultancy skills to the next level!

The three-hour interactive webinar requires a lot of preparation time, knowledge and experience of expert trainer Saar, therefore it is not possible to offer this interactive webinar for free. However, the price remains much cheaper than if you were to attend a full training on the subject. We also guarantee a good and smooth course of the session and we will do our utmost to make it as successful as possible for you!


Five tips for effective selling

Last year, a change took place within organisations towards working remotely. As a result, many employees of organisations have had to change their skills in the area of working online. Skills that have become central include calling and video calling. This applies, among other things, to many people working in sales. Customer appointments cannot currently take place physically, which means that canvassing potential customers has been moved (or perhaps retained) to an online setting. How do you deal with this as a sales person? In this week's blog, we discuss five tips that can help you boost your (remote) sales skills!

1. Preparation. Good preparation is perhaps the most important part of the sales process. Before you call a potential customer, it is important to set a clear goal for yourself. Is the first phone call just to get a potential customer excited about a product or are you going to sell your product or service right away? In any case, it is important to put your sales objective on paper and to work out your sales strategy in advance.

2. Focus on the person. In order to convince someone, it is important that you have tailored your sales tactics to this person/organisation, rather than to organisations in general. It is important to realise that every person you talk to is unique, and that every customer needs a different approach. Above all, remember that you are talking to an individual and that a 'one size fits all' approach is really outdated in the year 2021 now that we all have the possibility to obtain customer information via the Internet before calling.

3. Sell a solution. Your ultimate goal may be to sell as many products or services as possible, but that may not meet the needs of your potential customers. To get a customer interested in your product or service, it is a good idea to focus on the needs of the customer before promoting your product or service. First respond to a problem a customer is experiencing or could possibly experience by conducting thorough research. For example, take a look at the customer's website. Then capitalise on this by presenting your product or service as the solution to the customer's problem.

4. Price is not the most important thing. In sales, discounting is often thought to be effective in winning over customers. However, the problem is that once potential customers realise that you offer discounts too often or always, the value of your product or service drops. Therefore, trust in the value of your own product or service and try to focus on the features of your product or service that increase its value to customers in sales conversations. Try to demonstrate this in other ways too, for example within your own social media policy. Advertise on social media channels with the qualities of your product instead of advertising on (a low) price.

5. Remain professional at all times. Being professional actually consists of three different parts. It is about what you do, it is about what you say and it is about how you present yourself to potential clients. Friendliness is important, but it should not come at the expense of professionalism. A customer does not necessarily have to find you the nicest person in the world, but it is essential that a customer respects you. After all, a customer will only make a purchase if he or she actually trusts your knowledge and skills. A telephone call that is too amicable could therefore easily backfire.

Interactive webinar

Learnit now offers an interactive webinar Smart selling or distance, how? in which you (further) develop your own online sales skills in three hours. Topics will include the differences between distance selling and 'live' selling and smart ways to make online sales conversations easier. Would you like to know more about this webinar or register now? Then click here. Would you like to learn even more about professional remote sales? Then take a look at our training Online conversation; business conversations via video call. In this training you learn to efficiently and effectively conduct good business online conversations by not only paying attention to your own qualities and pitfalls, but also by interpreting the body language of your conversation partner. Curious about this training? Then click here.


Conducting bad news interviews online - How do you go about it?

Most managers cannot escape it; holding bad-news interviews is sometimes part of the job. These are often confrontational conversations that can evoke different emotions from both the manager and the employee. Currently, these conversations often take place online. This brings with it an extra challenge; how do you best convey bad news using online communication tools? Read below 5 tips that can help you to conduct an online bad news conversation.

1. Plan the interview in time

There is never a good time to have a bad news conversation, but don't delay. By doing so, you will give the person you are having this conversation with the idea that you are withholding important and crucial information from them. Once the conversation does take place, it can lead to unnecessary anxiety that is often accompanied by negative emotions such as anger and frustration. So you could argue that delaying bad news only leads to a more difficult conversation.

2. Transparent communication

Right at the start of the conversation, state what it is about. In a face-to-face conversation, it's usually best to get right to the point, so the other person knows where they stand. This also applies to an online bad news conversation. So make sure you're transparent: this is often seen as the most sincere way to convey an unpleasant message.

3. Empathetic ability

Online, it may be more difficult to gauge someone else's reaction, but this is an important aspect of a bad-news conversation. Once the message has been conveyed, it is important to wait for the other persons' reactions. Emotions that may surface include resignation, defence, denial, repetition or even aggression. In any case, it is important to give someone time to express themselves. If you can't quite gauge someone's reaction, for example because you are video chatting and can't quite see their face, dare to ask them how they feel about the bad news. In this way, you can still respond to what the person says, by empathising with their situation.

4. Offer aftercare

In order not to end the conversation too abruptly, it is a good idea to think beforehand about how the situation will develop after the conversation has ended. It is important to indicate that you understand that the bad news is unexpected and that you will grant the person time to let the news sink in. In the case of a termination of employment, it is a good idea to schedule a meeting later to wrap things up properly.

5. Realise that it is not your fault that the conversation takes place online

Finally, it is important to remember that it is not your fault that the conversation takes place online. In these circumstances, there is nothing else you can do. Having an online bad news conversation has one big advantage: the person you are having the conversation with is (probably) in their own home, and not in the office or another location. This means he or she can retreat to familiar surroundings after the call, without having to speak to other people first. You can probably imagine that if you have just heard you have been fired, for example, you would rather avoid your departmental colleagues after such an interview.

Bad news training

Learnit offers a training 'Bad news conversations', in which you learn how to prepare for such a conversation, how you can best structure a conversation and which pitfalls you must take into account. During this one-day training you will not only learn about theory, but you will also interactively get to work with exercises. This ensures that at the end of the day you will have the skills and confidence to conduct a bad news conversation the next time. Click here to read more about the training or to register directly.


Influencing skills - Invest in yourself!

How do you make sure that people are convinced of your ideas or proposals? And how do you get other people to move? The answer on paper is simple; by adapting your own behaviour and communication to the situation and the people you want to influence. Yet in practice this often turns out to be difficult. Therefore, in this blog, read about the four different ways you can successfully influence others.

1. Exhort: Energetic and powerful statements are important.

  • Giving a compliment. To encourage someone to continue with what he or she is doing, giving a compliment is extremely effective. Think, for example, of a colleague who is busy designing a new web page layout for the organisation's website. If you compliment them in the meantime, they will only get more motivated to finish this layout!
  • Taking a stand. In addition to using a compliment to encourage someone, you may also choose to make a statement. In this way, you can provoke a discussion and encourage others to think about a certain topic.

2. Convince: The power of convincing lies in the substantiation.

  • Presenting arguments. If you want to convince someone, it is important that you substantiate your arguments well. The emphasis in this case is therefore on presenting facts, repeating your message and clearly communicating your proposal. It is therefore important that you come up with factual information and not just your own opinion.

3. Investigate: The focus is on what the other person thinks and feels.

  • Listen and ask questions. Make sure the other person is the centre of attention and listen carefully to what they have to say. Try to summarise this for yourself, so that you can ask the other person specific questions. If a colleague tells you why he or she does not want to work on a certain project, listen carefully to his or her reasons. Are the reasons not clear to you? Then ask a targeted question to find out why he or she does not want something.
  • Giving recognition. An important purpose of research is also to give recognition to the other person. After a conversation, for example, you can thank someone for his or her input. In this way, you show that you appreciate the input of this person and that you actually take the input into account.

4. Inspire: The importance of the other is central in combination with energetic statements.

  • Outline a positive perspective. If you want to inspire someone, it is useful to sketch a positive future perspective that you support yourself but that the other person will also benefit from. So try to sketch a future perspective in which the other person (also) has a clear role.
  • Taking the first step. Inspiring someone is great, but how do you make sure they actually take that first step? In such a case, it is useful to come up with concrete plans. Suggesting the first step that someone might take can certainly be enlightening.

Influencing skills training

Learnit now offers the possibility to follow a training course 'Influencing skills', in which you will be prepared in six months time to influence persons and groups while taking into account everyone's interest. Do you want to read more about the subjects that are dealt with during this training? Then click here to view the training page or register now. Prefer to contact us first to discuss the possibilities? Send an email to info@learnit.nl or call us on +31 20 6369179.


This is how you give good advice!

The extent to which your advice is understood, accepted and used depends to a large extent on how you yourself present it. As an advisor you are undoubtedly the specialist in your field, but how do you convince other people of your knowledge and skills? With the tips in this blog you can lift your counselling skills to a higher level!

  • Timing. Try to empathise with the person or persons for whom your advice is intended. Think about where and when you will give the advice. Do you happen to know that someone has a busy week and is stressed? It might be a better idea to wait with your advice.

  • Organisational skills. Don't forget that you are the specialist and try to radiate this. If you want to appear professional, it is a good idea to make sure that your affairs are always in order. Make sure you are not late and do not forget important appointments or documents.
  • Analytical ability. You can only give good advice after you have collected and analysed all the necessary information. That is why you always start by talking to the client. Listen to the client but also ask specific questions. It is important to be aware of the situation so that you can give targeted advice.
  • Think ahead. Advice is changeable. If you want to become or remain a good consultant, it is important to keep your eyes and ears open. Is something changing in your field of expertise? Are there things that should be taken into account in the future? As an adviser, it is important that you keep abreast of the new trends and developments in your professional field.
  • Communicating. The way you communicate plays a major role in ensuring that your advice is taken to heart. Therefore, pay attention to what kind of person or organisation you are dealing with and try to adapt your way of communicating accordingly. In addition, make sure that the customer for whom the advice is intended feels comfortable with you. For example, ask the person if there are any issues they would like to raise before the consultation, or offer a drink during the meeting.
  • Do you want to improve your own consulting skills? Then take a look at our three-day training Advisory skills and learn how to communicate your advice as convincingly as possible, with results! In addition, develop your own personal advice style with the help of a Learnit trainer.


    How do you deal with difficult customers?

    "The customer is always right" and "The customer is king", both sayings that were widely used in the past and are still often applied in business today. These sayings show that no matter how nonsensical or unjust a reaction of a customer may be, it should always be taken seriously. But is this always a given?

    In order to see this, it is important to reflect on how you as a person would react to a difficult customer.

    The Lion, the Deer and the Cat

    If you look at it very simply, there are actually three different types of 'primal reactions' that people have when they come into contact with a difficult customer. These can be translated into the lion, the deer and the cat.

    A lion is a fighter, it does not shy away from conflict and immediately tries to think in terms of solutions. The lion's pitfall is its urge to fight and attack, which can make it seem daunting to customers.

    The deer flees, it prefers to avoid conflict and will always try to take a submissive position. The advantage is that the customer feels heard at first, but the disadvantage is that the deer's flight does not solve the problem, which ultimately leads to an unsatisfied customer.

    The cat freezes, it will try to create distance between itself and the client in order to observe the problem from an expert's point of view. The pitfall here is that the cat will not make contact with the client, making him feel unheard.

    In the end, we all tend towards one of these roles. However, this is not the same in all cases; for example, sometimes you may act more like a lion while at other times you may be more like a cat.


    With the information about the lion, the deer and the cat in mind, it is now interesting to start thinking about what customers need. As an example, you could say that someone who appears to be angry initially needs understanding, followed by an explanation and finally a concrete plan. In this you have incorporated all three roles.

    Free webinar

    Would you like to know more about this topic and are you curious about which role suits you best? During the free webinar held on 14 January 2020, Michaela went into more detail about satisfying difficult customers. Watch it here!


    Ten interview techniques to outwit someone

    Many of Learnit Training's communication training courses are about listening, understanding the other person, empathising with someone's situation and showing empathy. Very important, in most cases'', says communication trainer Rob from Learnit.

    He will soon change tack. Because sometimes you just want to get your way: trump someone with a sharp remark. You want to score and win.

    If only I could trump you verbally'.

    Rob explains why these skills are also important. It doesn't have to happen often, but there are moments when you think: if only I could outdo you verbally now.

    The central question during Rob's webinar on 9 July is: 'How can you successfully challenge someone's statement and make your point?' To answer this question, Rob discusses ten conversation techniques that you can apply immediately. Chances are that there is a technique that suits everyone.

    In the webinar, Rob will present a statement that may sound familiar to you. Imagine: your manager makes the following statement: ,,That training at Learnit is far too expensive. A course like that is not worth the money.''


    In the webinar, Rob teaches you ten conversation techniques to challenge that statement, we discuss one of them in this blog. One of the ways is called metaframing'', says Rob. You evaluate the statement in the context of a recurring personal context of that manager.

    So you are actually establishing a belief about his belief. Rob: ,,So you're saying, 'You just don't believe it's worth that money because you have a lack of faith.'

    In this way, you make the manager's statement about himself, rather than about the training. The result: he will start to defend himself. You can then build on previous occasions when he showed little confidence.

    Free webinar

    The trainer gave the webinar on 9 July 2019. Watch it back here!


    Measures in organisations for dealing with aggression

    Unfortunately, some people have to deal with aggression in the course of their work. By taking measures as an organisation to prevent and deal with aggression, you show employees that they are not alone. But how does an organisation take such measures? The Ministry of the Interior has drawn up 8 Safe Public Task measures for people who perform a public task, such as civil servants and employees of emergency services. Below you can read more about these measures and how you can take them as a starting point for measures within your organisation.

    1. Set standards and communicate them

    Work together to formulate standards of what behaviour is and is not acceptable. In any case, behaviour is unacceptable if it is punishable, if it prevents employees from performing their work normally and if it disrupts the company order. An important guideline for defining acceptable behaviour is: emotion is allowed, but not aggression. Draw up house rules and codes of conduct and communicate them both internally and externally, for example by hanging them in reception areas or posting them on the website. Also be clear about the consequences of unacceptable behaviour.

    2. Encourage employees to report aggression

    Employees can sometimes be reluctant to report aggression. They may not want to appear weak or may be afraid of being blamed for aggressive behaviour. As an organisation, convey the message that employees can always discuss problems on the shop floor with a manager. It is also a good idea to appoint a confidential advisor to whom employees can turn.

    3. Record all incidents of aggression

    It is important to record all incidents of aggression. Employees then feel that they are being taken seriously and the organisation can take measures to prevent and better deal with aggression in the future, for example by redesigning the work location or increasing security. Through accurate registration, it is possible to map out which departments are most affected by aggression and what the causes are. As a result, specific measures can be taken.

    4. Train staff in dealing with aggression

    Good information and training makes employees resilient. Training enables employees to experience in a safe environment what aggression does to them and how they can respond to it effectively. During training, employees also learn why people show aggressive behaviour: out of frustration, to achieve something or uncontrolled aggression resulting from substance abuse or mental disorders. This makes them all the more prepared if they have to deal with aggression.

    5. Show a reaction to the offender within 48 hours

    It is extremely important that an organisation has an unambiguous policy on dealing with aggression. If an employee says 'no', then the employer must do the same. This can be done, for example, by issuing a warning, reporting the incident, recovering damages or imposing a restraining order. This gives the perpetrator a clear signal that he or she has crossed a line and employees feel supported.

    6. Encourage reporting

    Reporting an offence is a way of letting the offender know that he/she has gone too far. An employee can make a report himself, but the employer can also arrange for a report to be made. The employee who has been the victim of the aggression will then make a witness statement. If a criminal offence has been committed, the perpetrator will be prosecuted. If there is no criminal offence, the police will still register the incident. Often aggressive behaviour does not stop at one time. The perpetrator is then in any case known to the police.

    7. Recover damages from the perpetrator

    By recovering damages, an organisation also sends a clear signal and the person who has behaved aggressively suffers the consequences of his actions. Both material and psychological damage can be recovered.

    8. Offer reception and aftercare to employees

    Bring employees who have experienced aggression to safety and let them tell their story. Make employees aware that they can get help. Some people can easily let go of such an event, while others may suffer from it for a long time. It is important to remain alert to whether the employee(s) develop complaints after the incident. A follow-up interview is therefore recommended. Also inform other colleagues about the incident and evaluate whether the measures need to be tightened up.

    Dealing with aggression in the workplace

    The eight points mentioned are therefore not only useful for people working in the public sector, but also for people working in the private sector. Thanks to these measures, aggression can be better prevented in your organisation and your employees will know how best to deal with aggression. Do you need more practice? In our two-day training dealing with aggression in the workplace, you become increasingly skilled in de-escalating a difficult situation.


    Job applications: ethical and legal issues

    There are various ethical and legal issues that arise when conducting job interviews. What can and cannot be asked? And what are you allowed or not allowed to select for? We will go through a few important points.

    Equal treatment legislation

    Thanks to the Equal Treatment Act, it is forbidden to discriminate against people in the Netherlands. Avoid questions or remarks about a person's gender, age, race, religion, nationality, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status and children. Here are a few examples of questions the recruiter may not ask: Are you planning to get pregnant? Do you like women or men? Are you a member of a political party?

    Be transparent

    As a recruiter, it is your responsibility to provide accurate information about the job and the organisation. The vacancy must clearly state the tasks, powers and responsibilities, job requirements, nature of the employment, scope of work, place in the organisation and location. Within two weeks of the vacancy's closing date, the applicant must be notified and the organisation must then provide clarity on the application process.

    Social media

    Many rejections of candidates are due to information found through social media or the Internet. An organisation should be aware that this information is not always accurate, correct and/or relevant. Judging a candidate based on photos and information found on social media violates an employer's ethical duty to avoid selection criteria that are not related to job performance. Personal information such as religion, marital status, nationality and age can often be found on social media. If relevant, the public information may be discussed with the applicant.

    The Dutch Association for Personnel Management and Organisational Development (NVP) has drawn up a 'NVP Recruitment Code', which contains basic rules that organisations and applicants should follow when applying for jobs. The code should ensure an honest and transparent recruitment and selection procedure. An organisation may adapt the code to its own specific situation if there is reason to do so. Curious about the NVP Recruitment Code? The code can be found here.

    Recruitment and selection: conducting interviews

    Besides the ethical and legal issues, many other topics are covered during our two-day training Recruiting and Selection: conducting job interviews. What can you run into during a job interview and how do you deal with this? Learn how to read CVs efficiently and how to prepare and conduct a job interview. More information about the training?


    How do you intelligently interrupt a conversation?

    How do you intelligently interrupt a conversation? Interrupting a conversation can quickly be seen as rude. Yet it can be a handy way to get your conversation partner to change his or her mind. Here are four tips!

    1. Ask a question

    Ask your conversational partner a question, preferably a closed question. When someone asks us a question, we are generally quick to give an answer. After all, ignoring a question is rude. Asking a closed question leads to shorter answers, so that you can take over the conversation quickly after the answer. Don't get an answer? Ask the question again, only this time with a different wording. For example:

    Question 1. When did you send the file?

    Question 2. Sorry it is not clear yet, when did I receive it?

    2. Yes, and...

    Everyone knows the "yes, but". These words together quickly have a negative connotation. It is immediately clear to the interlocutor that you do not agree with something. A good variation on this is ''Yes, and''. You can continue your sentence by building on what your interlocutor said. An example: "Yes, and I would also like to look at this. Your interlocutor gets the feeling that you agree with what he/she said, while you can subtly push the conversation in your direction.

    3. Ask permission

    Ask if you can interrupt your conversational partner. In principle, you are already interrupting the conversation, but if you phrase the question correctly, it will not come across as rude. When you ask for permission, be polite. You can choose to simply ask "May I interrupt you? or you can immediately pay your conversational partner a subtle compliment. Say, for example, ''That's a good point, may I add?''

    4. Agree

    Use consent as a means of interrupting the conversation. Say you are right and be enthusiastic. This increases the chance that he or she is flattered and that your interlocutor thinks you are on the same side in the conversation. This gives you a chance to take over the conversation. For example: "I couldn't agree more! Did you know that...'' or "I think that's a very good idea. We could also...

    Conversation Techniques Training

    Would you like to learn more about conversation techniques? In the Conversation Techniques training you learn to become aware of your own qualities and pitfalls and what effect these have on the course of a conversation. You learn to have a clear view on the goal of a conversation, so you can consciously determine your strategy and conversation techniques to achieve this goal. By sharpening your skills, your conversations will be more pleasant, effective and efficient.


    Roadmap for de-escalating aggression

    When dealing with aggressive people, it is important to know that aggression provokes aggression. Sometimes a certain way of looking, saying something or a certain attitude can already provoke aggression. Interest can be interpreted as meddling ("Hey, what are you looking at? Is something on your mind?"), while this is not at all the intention. It is important to pay attention to your own way of communicating, because your behaviour can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

    Non-verbal and verbal communication play an important role in dealing with aggressive people. Of course, there is a big difference between someone who is just angry and, say, a mugger. Sometimes it is good to let someone rage, sometimes to show understanding and sometimes to run away as fast as possible. Every situation requires good judgment. To help you on your way, we share below a rough roadmap for dealing with different forms of aggression:

    1. Approach the other person with an open mind

    Aggression is often a reaction to a person or a situation. When you are confronted with an aggressive person, your first reaction is often to react aggressively. However, it is better to remain calm and adopt an open attitude towards the other person. If you react aggressively, the other person will become even more angry and aggressive, with all its consequences.

    2. Let the other person express their anger by listening

    It is best to 'go along' a bit with what the aggressive person has to say. If he can tell his story, he will become calmer. He feels heard and understood. Sometimes the simple phrase: "I can see that you are angry" helps.

    3. Summarising and asking questions

    Make an assessment of what kind of aggression you are dealing with to determine the continuation of the conversation:

    In case of emotional aggression/frustration aggression:

    Emotional aggression often stems from an accumulation of frustrations. Take the problem seriously and let the other person express his or her anger. In case of emotional aggression, do the following:

    4. Showing understanding

    Not for the aggressive behaviour, but for the situation. In the eyes of an aggressive person, he or she has been wronged. Do not argue with them, but show understanding. Someone who feels understood will make less of a fuss.

    5. Providing information

    Explain why the situation is as it is. Tell calmly what is going on and ask for understanding.

    6. Providing a solution

    Try to find a solution together or by yourself, or if possible an alternative. Offer a solution and link this to concrete agreements, as far as you are able to. If you are not the one who can or may agree on things, get the person who can to do so.

    7. Positive conclusion

    The best thing is if you can end the conversation in a positive way. A friendly word or a cup of coffee works wonders. Always end on a positive note. And watch out for sarcasm. Unfortunately, it will not always be possible to make the other person leave on a positive note. But make sure you end the conversation on a positive note.

    In case of instrumental / targeted aggression:

    In instrumental aggression, people use aggression intentionally. They demand something and because they think that they will not get it done otherwise, they have the idea in advance to get it done through aggression. This is why you have to draw the line earlier. If necessary, you can do so quite soon after step 1.

    4. Setting limits

    Border control is very important when dealing with aggression. This is necessary in order to be able to be able to react properly as a professional. For example, say (in a friendly manner) that you would like to listen and talk, but not if they behave like this.

    5. Offer solution/choice

    Show the angry person the choices that are available. In the waiting room of the emergency room: "You can choose: You sit down and they will help you right away. Or you don't sit down, but then I will call the security guard now."

    6. Close

    If the solutions provided are not sufficient, clearly indicate that there is no other option than to cooperate or to stop. Be very clear about this.

    Follow training

    At the very least, aggression becomes more manageable and causes less harm when you have more tools at your disposal to recognise violent behaviour early on, to de-escalate it and to get a clear picture of your own behaviour in the situation. These skills are, with the help of professional actors, fully developed and rediscovered in the various Coping with Aggression training programmes that we offer. Click here to go to the general aggression training page and find the training that suits you best. link]

    Acting confident, inspiring and decisive

    Anyone who really wants to achieve something must be able to influence others. Influencing is an important communication skill. By thoroughly analysing situations, you can act in a self-confident, inspiring and decisive way. Because not every situation requires the same way of influencing, gaining insight into different influencing styles is very valuable.

    If you want to influence someone, you can distinguish between push and pull styles. If you 'push', you base yourself on your own interests and wishes. Push energy is direct, powerful and convincing - the other person is put under pressure to change course or take action. When you 'pull', you first align yourself with the other person's interests, and then pull them away from their position. Talking energy involves the other person and is compelling - the other person's involvement is stimulated by a greater understanding of their needs and interests.

    Within each style, there are a number of behaviours you can try out:

    Pushing style: Convince

    You present arguments in a confident manner and take the other person with you. Convincing is a pushing style, because you 'push' the other person in your direction with your arguments. With this style you focus on the other person's intellect and their reasonableness.

    Pushing style: Spurting

    You can prompt someone by setting standards, appealing to your authority, judging or negotiating. Urging is a pushing style, because the emphasis is on using (light) coercion. With this style, you rely on your own willpower.

    Tractive Style: Investigate

    When you adopt an inquisitive attitude, you put yourself in the place of the other person's feelings by asking questions, listening, making personal appeals and building coalitions. Investigating is a pulling style, because you give as much space as possible to the wishes of the other person, but you want to pull the other person towards you on the basis of their interests. In this style, strength of feeling is the most important tool.

    Pull style: Inspire

    You can inspire someone by making them go all out for your goal. Inspire is a pull style, because you have a common interest. With this style you sell by seducing.

    Every influencing style has its own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is important that the chosen style fits well with your conversation partner and the situation in which you find yourself. In our training 'Influencing skills and persuasion' you will go deeper into (amongst others) the push and pull styles and you will learn to personalise them.


    Aggression at work: 6 tips to improve the situation

    Ambulance staff threatened with a knife while doing their job, we regularly read such reports in the newspaper. The situation is sometimes so threatening that the police have to intervene to prevent worse. Fortunately, in most situations it does not get that out of hand and there is still something to start against the aggressor. Do you also sometimes have to deal (hopefully to a lesser extent) with anger or aggression from another person during your work? Then it is wise to learn how to deal with it.

    Many people do not know how to respond effectively to aggression, and that is not surprising. People act from a biological defence mechanism that is activated during threatening or stressful situations. Everyone recognises reactions that result from stress, such as palpitations, clammy hands, dry mouth and tension. This is also called the 'flight-or-fight' response. When there is a threat in our environment, we want to flee or fight. This ancient response has proved very effective for our hunting ancestors, but today it can cause a situation to escalate.

    How best to respond to aggression depends on the situation and the type of aggression. Here are six tips that can help you when you are confronted with aggression.

    • Aggression provokes aggression. So try not to react too impulsively to an aggressive person and try to control your own anger. If you let yourself go, the other person can become even more aggressive and angry. And that is exactly what you want to prevent!
    • Empathise to some extent with the aggressive person. You do not have to say that he/she is right, but you can show understanding. In many cases the aggressor feels heard and understood. This may cause him or her to cool down somewhat.
    • Stay calm and polite and treat the other person with respect.
    • Don't get into a discussion, that often only provokes more anger. It is better to summarise what the other person is saying. So: "You are not satisfied about something and I can see that you are angry."
    • You do not have to put up with everything. Set limits to the person's behaviour, but do not reject the person. If the situation really escalates, call in the help of a supervisor or security.
    • Do not take any risks. Especially when alcohol or drugs are involved, it is better to do nothing. The aggressor's reaction can be so unpredictable that it is wiser to do nothing.

    Course on dealing with aggression in the workplace

    Learnit offers various courses to help you deal with aggression in the workplace. Are you interested? Then take a look at our page on aggression and find out which training course best suits your work environment. Click here for the aggression page.


    Ten Influencing Skills (2014)

    J. Bijker

    To exert maximum influence on others, you can use compliments, sketch attractive situations and present good arguments. The book 'Ten Influencing Skills' describes ten influencing skills that you can learn and apply in your practical situation(s). In the training 'Influencing skills and persuasion', we use among others this book.


    Will you take a note of this? (2010)

    E. Tube

    A large proportion of people find it difficult to take minutes. Common pitfalls include writing too much down, not being able to distinguish main points from minor ones or getting stuck when working out the minutes. In the book 'Write this down?' you are taken through the entire meeting process - from preparation to dispatch of the finished report. In the training Effective taking of minutes


    Effective dialogue (2006)

    M. van den Berg

    Communicating clearly and to the point ensures that people know where they stand. In order to gain control over a conversation, you must be able to give and receive the right information. With the help of the book 'Effective Conversations' you can discover what your (specific) pitfalls and points of attention are. In addition, the book offers directly applicable tips. In the training 'Conversation techniques', we use this book, among other things.


    Interviewing (2005)

    M. van Waveren

    How do you get interesting and relevant information on the table during an interview and break through the general talk of your interview candidate? With the help of the book 'Interviewing' you will learn how to bring out information in a critical but respectful way. In the appendix to this book you will also find detailed interviews with Maartje van Weegen, Paul Witteman and Frènk van der Linden. We use this book, among others, in the Interview Techniques training.


    The dirty TRICKS of negotiating (2010)

    G. van Houten

    Negotiating is the process of probing, exploring each other's interests and conditions, in order to ultimately reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. With the techniques and strategies from the book "The Dirty TRICKS of Negotiating" you will not easily be defeated. In the training ' Negotiating', we make use of this book, among other things.


    Speaking in public (2011)

    K. Wiertzema and P. Jansen

    Many people find it tedious to present, while everyone is capable of giving a convincing presentation. The aim of the book 'Speaking in public' is to offer tools to people who want to learn to adopt a good posture, optimise the structure of their presentations and learn more about the use of audio-visual instruments. In the training ' Presenting with conviction', we make use of this book, among other things.

    In our communication training courses, we not only use books, but also tailor-made syllabi and handouts.