Friday, March 19, 2010

The Customer Approach Starts with Acceptance

A strept throat infection threatened to take me down this past week. In fact, it did as I was forced to rest, and really all I could muster was writing. Now that doesn't sound so bad, to be so ill that all I can do is write! Imagine! What a treat! My voice has been seriously compromised by the strept infection and I sound more than a little hoarse, but nevertheless, I dragged myself to my first class with a new group at College de Rosemont late this week after having to cancel the first one on Tuesday. It truly energizes me to meet new students and embark with them on their learning journey. I am always awed at the way adult learners rise to the challenge, and I absolutely love facilitating their learning and growing through change! 

The course is The Customer Approach. This course is experiential and helps students learn strategies about how humans relate for the benefit and profit of an organization. While discussing the issue of corporate culture and the values a company displays, one group provided a key teachable moment. The word "tolerance" appeared in the list of desirable company values on their large group brainstorming sheet. I told them that I dislike the word "tolerance" and could they imagine why? Someone then defined tolerance as the act of tolerating or putting up with something or someone. Yes! It strikes me that the word "tolerance" finds its way into too many political speeches. The word is thrown around like some badge of honor, when in fact, tolerance is a dishonorable way to approach how we relate to others, especially to those whom we view as different from ourselves. So I then asked my learners what word aptly replaces "tolerance." We finally arrived at the word "acceptance." Yes! I was doing the stir dance in my mind. You see, my group is not a homogeneous group of adult learners, but rather, its participants represent the many colors of the globe: Haiti, Algeria, Colombia, Morocco, to name a few. It makes me wonder if it isn't our prime ministers and presidents who really need to attend a lesson in the differences between "tolerance" and "acceptance."

The most gratifying moment came after our second class together just this morning when I did a spot evaluation of how my learners like the course so far and what they don't like about the course. They like the course and they don't like my voice! Or the one I barely have. So I was instructed by them to rest and get better this weekend. Thank you, Group 38271--I really enjoyed our first two classes together and look forward to working with all of you!

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