How to avoid conflict in the training room


Get some up front agreement
We often use the phrase “contracting”. Don’t, it sounds like a lawyer and the formal contract. Not perhaps the right atmosphere to start a seminar with.

However you do need to get things out in the open and agree expectations of you and the course and the group. If the group decide the terms of engagement, then you can use this powerful force later on if any one individual is causing issues. The power of the group is paramount to your success.

During the engagement session, you’ll see the positive and negative people, which will be useful for later. Positivity often wins over negativity.

Up front agreement also allows you to make alterations to your course content, maybe more practical exercises and energisers, or give the group more Smartphone breaks… whatever is needed, you be the judge.

Not a radio station broadcasting outside of LA, but an acronym – what’s in it for me?

If your group can’t see any benefit in attending the seminar or listening to you, then they won’t listen and that might cause problems later. This is just exacerbated if they were told to come on the course, which still happens to every trainer.

People, learners, delegates, in fact anyone is motivated by:

  • Saving money
  • Making money (bonuses, commission)
  • Saving time
  • Making their work easier
  • Getting more done in the time available

So dig deep and tell them what the benefits are in attending right up front, or even in the welcome pack you send them beforehand.

Last week my training room allocated to me was only big enough for a board table, sometimes I’ve trained in room cupboards, in open offices… I’m sure you have too.

But if you can choose the layout carefully and don’t default to the traditional “U” shape. This was originally designed to cater for those big boxlike OHPs we used back in the 80’s and 90’s which used to stand in from of the U.

The world has moved on now and we don’t need this set-up. Where space allows, I like to opt for bistro style. My tag which means lots of small tables or round tables or just two tables joined together to house 4 or so people. Once you have this set up the advantages are tremendous:

  • It’s easy to involve the whole group when you ask for something i.e. each table acts like a mini-group rather than just one person taking charge.
  • The small groups self-manage i.e. they will handle the difficult person for you.
  • It allows you to use more group work and exercises.
  • It inspires competition amongst tables
  • It’s very difficult in small groups for one person to ‘opt-out’.


Team creating
Lots of activities and exercises, that’s the answer to total involvement and setting up teams or mini groups to conduct these exercises, can sometimes lead to conflict particularly when the group know each other. So avoid people working with their pals, cliques being set up, people working with the same people.

I encourage movement of groups and team members so to create groups try these:

  • All those born in January to March on this table please…
  • Height order to determine the groups
  • Deal out playing cards and all hearts on this table, clubs on this table…
  • Number people – 1, 2, 3, 4 around the room to create teams at random
  • Ask them to work in teams with people that they haven’t worked with before
  • Scorpios, Taureans, Sagittarians on this table please…

I’m sure you get the idea. Keep changing teams, encourage movement

Team leader
If you have groups larger than 4 people, then you need someone to become team leader or coordinator should you wish your activities to be finished on-time. I always randomly chose a leader to prevent the toxic one taking over all the time.

Here’s some ideas:

  • The tallest person in the team.
  • The person that has been with the organisation for the longest time.
  • The person that lives the closest to this building in miles etc.
  • “The person wearing the most blue”. You can use this tactic if you want a particular person to head the group – maybe the most positive person, just check what they’re wearing first.

Movement can calm the frustrations of certain group members. So, keep things moving, including your learners.

If the body ain’t moving the brain ain’t grooving.

Movement can calm the frustrations of certain group members. So, keep things moving, including your learners. When learners are kept moving it increases their energy levels, add curiosity an anticipation to the workshop which keeps them ready to learn and less likely to look for the negative. After all, it’s very difficult to be negative about something if you’re feeling energised.



About Author

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Paul Archer is an Online Sales Trainer, Speaker and Conference Host. He’d be happy to assist you in moving your workshops online during this challenging period. Email him on or LinkIn with him at The world of sales development has changed, many have missed this and boldly go on to run courses in the old-fashioned way. You want to develop your people – professional advisers, salespeople, coaches - and know there is a better way. He can help you. Think about music. I mean the music industry. In 2000 music became free, illegally at first with Napster, downloads became cheap as chips and streaming now cost $10 a month. In the same way, traditional self-development is now free. Everything is available online. Music artists and bands now make their money performing live. The live experience is what fans will pay money for. Recorded music is merely to create demand for the live experience. He brings his 35+ years of sales expertise and experience to you in two ways: Online, on-demand, just in time. He doesn’t run “just in case” training courses, they’re a thing of the past. Development should be “just in time”. Curated video, live videocasts and webinars, podcasts — books, articles and blog posts delivered via his Learning Platforms, YouTube or your in-house systems. Live. He can bring his expertise to your teams in live sessions, but these are rare now and need to be exceptional events. Conferences, seminars and events, he can educate, entertain them with my unique speaking style that has been enjoyed by thousands of sale people and advisers across the globe. Forty-five minutes, 2 hours, maybe a day – you choose. You figured there was a better way to develop your sales teams, you are right, and now you may want to make contact with him so you can talk further. You can Linkin with him at, and he’ll start a conversation or head to his YouTube Channel for more at email him at or phone him on +44 7702 341769, and where ever you are in the world he’d love to hear from you. Paul is a prolific writer and blogger – maintaining three blogs, with attracting thousands of hits from all over the world. He has published eight books. His latest tome "Pocketbook of Presentation Skills” was released in January 2020 and is available from Amazon. The third edition of his book “Train the Trainer of the 21st Century” is also available from Amazon.

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