Friendship: An Unexpected Benefit Of Training

We often think of training as solely a learning endeavor, but educational events can also serve as opportunities to build new relationships. Whether delivered online or in the classroom, learning experiences–when designed with an eye on socialization–bring people together in ways that typical networking or social events cannot. Learners and instructors have a shared frame of reference (the course content) and engage in friendly discussion, discourse, and collaborative learning around the course goals to naturally forge connections and bonds that can “live” beyond the classroom and blossom into lifelong friendship or working relationships. I have known many instances of classmates forming strong friendships, becoming colleagues, or working together on committees or projects long after class has ended.

As we design both online and face-to-face delivery, our key concern must be learning and transfer but don’t forget about the incidental benefits that come from relationship-building. Consider ways to facilitate opportunities for friendship and professional networking within your course.

  • Begin with icebreakers that help learners to indirectly disclose information about themselves and identify common frames of reference (see this example). Also, as an instructor, participate in the icebreaker so students can get to know you.
  • When assigning groups, always begin with a second icebreaker or low-stress activity to create a sense of camaraderie before getting down to real work.
  • Encourage groups to create and follow ground rules to prevent unnecessary conflict.
  • Give learners a social assignment during breaks to encourage connection beyond the classroom (see this example).
  • Create opportunities for collaborative problem-solving around course topics.
  • End the course with a formal exercise that encourages learners to say thank you and recognize the contribution others have made to their learning experience (here are a few examples).

Questions

  1. Have you formed strong social or professional bonds with classmates? What brought this about?
  2. Can you share a training activity or experience that has the added benefit of social networking?
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9 comments

  • I think that these article focuses on the concept of “brain breaks” which truly do help adult learners focus better on an activity. Especially noting that adults brain span of memory is about every 2 minutes and we need to remove the clutter by recharging for a moment. Also as noted, learners work better from a sense of motivation and learning in chunks of information is a good way to do that in group activities.

  • I have yet to form any strong bonds with classmates in my graduate program yet partly because I haven’t been in the program all that long but also because the all online format makes this difficult. I much prefer face-to-face interaction. Still, I have begun networking and reaching out with a few classmates and hope to have this continue after I have finished my program.

    I used to do an abundance of trainings activities for companies and organizations around Chicago as part of their Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. Some were lecture based and offered information on minority groups with particular focus on the LGBTQ community. I was never a fan of nor did I excel at creating engaging group activities. This is a skill I certainly need to work towards developing further.

  • In the past I have definitely formed strong social and professional bonds with classmates. Actually, those bonds have a tendency to last longer because of the commonality of values towards academic excellence and career growth. In those instances, the friendship formed through having repeated classes together.

    As much as I dread icebreakers, I secretly love them, because I am usually able to create a personal connection with at least one person that resulted from an icebreaker during a training activity. This is my preferred method of creating initial opportunities for social networking in settings where people are not personally or professionally acquainted with one another.
    M.

  • I recently went on a trip for business to learn about the Freedom of Information Act for my job and met some amazing people who are passionate about what they do and teaching. The patients and friendliness that they showed helped to create a sense of social and professional camaraderie, that I rarely see, in a few days. The clear goal of the class and everyone working together to pass the class and get the certificate helped to form these social and professional bonds that will last a lifetime.

  • Yes, I have found myself forming both professional bonds and social with my classmates. because The relationship that you build with the forming and being in groups you are getting to know other people professional background which leads you into the professional role with responding to them as well as about yourself and how you may have interacted with current issues and being able to give them feedback on how to handle it. although on the other hand at times many of us have formed some of the social skills with opening up just who we are and what we do this is being socialization with other chatting back and forward join more groups and relating to many dislikes or like of things and being able to give out feedback of opinions.

  • Have you formed strong social or professional bonds with classmates? What brought this about?

    Although we do not interact in person, I feel I have made some strong bonds with my classmates. It helps that our end goal of graduating with our degrees are the same. This shared goal has allowed me to open up, and them open up to me, as we navigate through each course. I now find myself scanning the names as each class begins, just to see if any of my former classmates will be in this next class. I feel every class taken together just strengthens that bond, and allows me to learn not only what is taught in class, but from their life experiences.

  • How do you deal with the challenge of when training is seen as something robbing people of time and anything not directly related to the training should not be included as it entails more time ‘wasted’

  • Have you formed strong social or professional bonds with classmates? What brought this about? Yes, I’ve had the experience a few times in my career and education. In one of the earlier examples, there was a lot of opportunity to share expertise and learn from one another’s strengths in the classroom environment.

    Can you share a training activity or experience that has the added benefit of social networking? While reporting to one leader in particular, he made team building a regular event. We’d get together as a team, complete workshop activities based on a particular subject like Emotional Intelligence, and then spend time outside of the office debriefing the concepts. It was always progressive for development and relationships amongst the teams.

  • Have you formed strong social or professional bonds with classmates? What brought this about?

    Yes, I have. We have so much in common from a job standpoint and the ideas we share that make us connect and we can learn more from the situations on the job and how we handle them.

    Can you share a training activity or experience that has the added benefit of social networking?

    Managers Team Building. We had managers come from different offices and share their experiences that made them successful. I found out some of the things that they were doing would work well in my office that I had to connect with them and learn more about their process to duplicate it and build on it.

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