The tangent-taker in a training process is an individual who has exemplary skills in connecting the subject matter in training with other topics that are not related to the program. This individual is likely to have a high level of charisma, and he or she can be very funny, which draws the rest of the group to him or her. The tangent-taker makes training difficult because he or she is always interrupting the trainer, and he or she may make it impossible to handle the relevant matter in time. Additionally, tangent –takers have the ability to engage everyone in the training group in conversations that disrupt the training process, which sometimes breaks the monotony of the training process (Kaslow, 2014).
Trainers may allow the tangent-taker to have a few minutes to engage the crowd in a conversation that if off-topic, but they may keep interrupting the process, which reduces the effectiveness of the training program. In case there is only one trainee who is a tangent-taker, he or she might make it impossible for the trainer to deliver the required information (Kaslow, 2014). Tangent-takers might also make it difficult for other trainees to learn because they look down on them and make comments that might cause the trainees to have a negative attitude toward the program. They may also agitate the trainer; thus, making it difficult for the trainer to handle the emotional burden associated with the job.
One of the most effective ways of dealing with a tangent-taker is engaging him or her in the development of ideas relating to the objectives of the training program. Engaging the tangent-taker would involve asking him or her questions based on the subject matter to ensure that he or she stays on topic. This should particularly be done by using firm statements that reveal that the trainer is not looking to engage in conversations that are off the topic (Kaslow, 2014). Whenever a tangent-taker is compelled to stay on the topic through engagement, they are likely to stop disrupting the training process with meaningless conversations.
Confrontation is also a good approach to dealing with a tangent-taker. This approach is particularly helpful when dealing with a rude or mean tangent-taker. Such individuals may make statements that provoke other trainees or the trainer, with the aim of disrupting the process. Confronting the tangent-taker shows that the trainer is in control of the program, and he or she is ready to exercise power vested upon him or her by the leadership position (Kaslow, 2014). The trainer should also give the tangent-taker an ultimatum to either keep on a topic or face an undesirable consequence, such as being eliminated from the program. This is negative reinforcement of behavior, and it works when dealing with a stubborn tangent-taker.
It is also possible to deal with the tangent-takers by interrupting them whenever they are deviating from the topic. For instance, whenever they try to link the topic with unrelated concepts, the trainer should interrupt them and ask them to stay on the topic or give another trainee the chance to discuss the issues at hand. Alternatively, the trainer could keep reminding the tangent-takers that everyone is entitled to an opinion while drawing the conversation back to the topic. Tangent-takers must not be allowed to deviate from the relevant topics.
Kaslow, F. (2014). Supervision and training: Models, dilemmas, and challenges. London, UK: Routledge.