Patience and Attitudes

Basic training courses can sometimes be challenging.

You never know what kind of people you will have in a course, how they will interact, who the alpha creatures will be and how they will influence the atmosphere in the group as a whole. I am actually often surprised by how often we actually end up with interesting, nice groups – but you will always have those one or two people who are out to challenge you.

This can be for various reasons.

As so often in the tree care world, the courses tend to be strongly XY-biased, i.e. a high proportion of guys, so it is not unreasonable to assume that a key reason is a cocktail made up of insecurity, machoism and over-estimation of one’s own abilities. Usually I find that by approaching people in as open and honest a fashion as possible, recognizing competence in them and by not creating hierarchies, you usually manage to break the ice – albeit after an prickly getting to know each other phase.

But with some it does not.

On the third day during one of the recent courses we were training Aerial Rescue Techniques. I had two guys, A and B, in my group who have worked together in the past and were reaffirming each other’s stance in an attempt to hide their insecurity…

Me: Ok, boys and girls, it’s your turn now, give it a crack in groups of two and remember: step by step, no need to rush, make sure you know what you are doing. Also, please remember to keep your lines outside of your legs, not between your bodies, so as to make sure you have no tangles of rope jamming up your hitch or end up stuck on your stopper knot.

A: Duh, I’m not thick, I’ve got it already.

Me: Gngngn… ok , fantastic, in that case this should be a doddle for you two.

So I walk over to the other side of the tree to go and check on one of the other groups – to come back and find A and B in this position:

Me: Guyyyys? What seems to be going on here? Bondage? Macramé? You building a cocoon?

B: Hnnnnnn. Stupid, bloody rope…

Me: No, it’s not the rope that rapped itself round you, it was you who did not take the time to tidy it. You remember what I said? Keep. The. Rope. On. The. Outside. Of. Your. Legs. Now, please, disentangle and give it another go.

I take it as a test of my patience to stay calm and polite in these situations. Do not get me wrong, I am not poking fun at anybody here, the whole reason that people attend a course is to improve their competence, good for them deciding to do so, but when lack of experience is paired with attitude and something like this happens, I have to admit having to hide a smile.

So much for “this is easy, done it all before”… huh, indeed.