How To Deal With Emotions As A HR Trainer – Insights with a Meliorist!

In collaboration with Altaab Khan

Emotions play a significant part in our lives as humans and contrary to popular beliefs, Human Resources professionals are not emotionless robots. They have feelings too! And most importantly, they also have to navigate the feelings of the people they look after and ensure that the overall emotional and mental health of the organization remains positive.

A couple of days ago I caught up with our very first “Feature”, the Meliorist – Altaab Khan. I had just heard about his new role as the Senior Manager Learning and Capabilities (Human Resources) for Raffles Hotels & Resorts and I thought I’d ask him about his thoughts on the importance of emotions and the considerations trainers would need to take in relation to this. 

This is definitely going to be an entertaining wallop of an article, sprinkled in with my own commentary, where he talks about his personal experiences grappling with emotions, its importance in training and how to overcome them. 

So, without further ado, here is Altaab’s “Emotions & Trainers”. 

In today’s business world trainers play a vital role in developing organizations. In  yesteryears, organizational learning, in the form of “Training”, was made up of about 50-60% of one-way communication. The main training component in those days were the trainers themselves and no thought was given to the recipients. Today, the section Learning & Development has broken away from the generalized “HR” role and has diversified within its own field while also proving its necessity and worth to organizations. 

“One of the toughest tasks is changing the mindset of your learners when everyone perceives from their own inner world”.


This is even tougher when you are changing a habit or lifestyle, ie. culture, of any organization. Culture determines what behaviours and actions are acceptable and what isn’t, so changing it would definitely take time, patience, and strong communication channels to make change permanent.

The praise for a great organizational culture or healthier corporate governance should not only be given to the top management but should also be equally distributed to the Training Partners, Trainers, L&D Champions. 

My topic of conversation today is on how to handle emotions as a trainer, what could be some possible hard-core emotions to navigate through and how success would look like hereafter. 

First and foremost, I would like to take you on a journey through the Learning Environment and for this article, I’m focusing specifically on training adults.

It’s important to first look at is who your learners are! They may range from long serving employees to new hires, while also representing variables such as social demographics, age, experience, education, cultural diversity, mindset diversity, individuals with visible and invisible disabilities, expatriates, people with language barriers, various levels of cognition or imparities, and different level of roles within organization such as front liners, supervisory to management to C-Suite Management. 

A good trainer should never overlook types of learners such as visual, auditory, kinesthetic and read/write learners. The different types of learners also would need different levels of support to enable a resourceful learning experience. 

Understanding your audience is incredibly important and it is a testament of Altaab’s experience for him to focus on this first. You structure your presentations to the audience! 

One of the biggest trait or competencies of a trainer is to have the right emotional intelligence/agility, humility, ability to be corrected, ability to accept and review at the feedbacks provided and make necessary changes for further improvement. 

The best piece of advice I can give is to have loads of resilience, grit and tolerance!


It is interesting that Altaab should point out resilience, grit and tolerance as important traits to have since they would help you sort, monitor and balance out your own emotions right? 

In my personal experience I have been exposed to learners who were more experienced with the subject matter, well informed, high achievers in that area and also quite proud of their excellence! Some oozed with arrogance, some with passion and humility. I’m quite certain these kind of factors raise the level of anxieties in trainers, lowers the self-esteem, brings out paranoia or imposter syndrome and it either defeats the trainer or challenges them to be more prepared and proactive next time!

Some lifelong remedies that has worked very well with me personally when faced with such circumstance are:

  1. Acknowledge their experience. 
  2. Engage them, empower them to be co-owners of all discussion through discussions that share their skills and experience.
  3. Allow them to answer a few questions that other learners may have in your session – this releases dopamine which stimulates the sense of belonging and they would be more collaborative rather than just a “Smart Intruder”.

One emotion that I feel most emerging facilitators and trainers have is “stage fright” when facing a totally new crowd to train!

My way around this has been to go to your sessions early, engage and connect with participants beforehand, find a common ground, and compliment participants! Two of my X-Factor methods has been starting my sessions with a very heart-felt ice breaker, and I must not fail to share this last one for the sake of this article, is Humor!

The last few paragraphs are nuggets of wisdom that would definitely be helpful to write down and practice in your own time! 

Thank You Altaab! 

There will be times as a trainer when you will come across situations where you need to deploy “Assertiveness” when you face the adversity of abrupt learners, those who may want to hinder the flow of the session, some who may be quite disrespectful due to their own set of beliefs or mindset- do not allow this! 

This is where you need to draw the line!

You can apply tact and diplomacy but never shy away from prohibiting unacceptable behavior- otherwise to some, this may be seen as its “Ok to get away with that”. Remember we are rrainers; we have a duty of care- that is to leave our learners as better human beings than before.

We, as trainers, have changed many lives, we will continue this with passion and keep thriving to promote self-learning and development and make this world a better place!

First of all, how crazy was all those little nuggets and truth bombs that Altaab dropped on us? For Free! 

This is a high level trainer that has worked with amazing people in tourism, sharing his own experiences and tips that has helped him get to where he is now. I cannot believe how fortunate we are to have this opportunity! 

If you liked this article and thought you got some amazing insights into how to become a better trainer please let us know and we can get Altaab back on to share his thoughts on subjects that you may need help in.

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