Four languages and four cultures in one day of training in Manama, Bahrain; that was my diversity training challenge. International and multicultural training participants that speak different languages, usually find it difficult to express themselves during trainings. As English is usually their second, or third, language, many training participants are hesitant to raise their hand and share their thoughts. As a trainer, I want to engage everyone in the training, but ideally I want them to engage themselves, That is the beauty of training, the more they engage themselves, the more they learn, but four languages and four cultures in one day? I was concerned that no one would feel comfortable expressing themselves. Then it occurred to me, what if the participants would be expressing themselves by raising their hands and not saying anything. Enter the emoji.

Never be Afraid to Experiment in the Training Space

Similar to the tent cards mentioned in the previous post, the emojis were an experiment. Initially, my customer in Bahrain was a bit skeptical, but they gave me a latitude to try new training techniques. I did not want to use too many emojis, so I chose three: smiling, sleeping and laughing. After the emojis were handed out, I told the training participants the meaning and interpretation of each emoji:

1. Smiling – they are interested and learning
2. Sleeping – they are bored and not learning
3. Laughing – they are having fun

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the participants loved using the emojis. The emojis really helped engage the entire class, even the quiet ones. The participants even used the emojis in response the other participant’s comments during the training. At times it was hilarious. Fortunately, the only time they used the sleeping emoji was when we talked about being tired after the huge, delicious and amazing lunch. The emoji training experiment was a huge success and they took the emojis back to the workplace as a reminder that they don’t have to speak the same language to understand the importance of their work.

What can I say? Insert smiling emoji here!

Eric L. Guthrie, Esq. CTD CDE