Sensitivity Training

Sensitivity training involves such groupings as --T groups (T for training), encounter groups, laboratory training groups, and human awareness groups are all names usually associated with what is known as sensitivity training.

Training & Development

Sensitivity training is about making people understand about themselves and others reasonably, which is done by developing in them social sensitivity and behavioral flexibility.

  • Social sensitivity in one word is empathy. It is ability of an individual to sense what others feel and think from their own point of view.
  • Behavioral flexibility is ability to behave suitably in light of understanding.

Procedure of Sensitivity Training

Sensitivity Training Program requires three steps:

1. Unfreezing the old values -It requires that the trainees become aware of the inadequacy of the old values. This can be done when the trainee faces dilemma in which his old values is not able to provide proper guidance. The first step consists of a small procedure:
  • An unstructured group of 10-15 people is formed.
  • Unstructured group without any objective looks to the trainer for its guidance
  • But the trainer refuses to provide guidance and assume leadership
  • Soon, the trainees are motivated to resolve the uncertainty
  • Then, they try to form some hierarchy. Some try assume leadership role which may not be liked by other trainees
  • Then, they started realizing that what they desire to do and realize the alternative ways of dealing with the situation

2. Development of new values - With the trainer's support, trainees begin to examine their interpersonal behavior and giving each other feedback. The reasoning of the feedbacks are discussed which motivates trainees to experiment with range of new behaviors and values. This process constitutes the second step in the change process of the development of these values.


3. Refreezing the new ones - This step depends upon how much opportunity the trainees get to practice their new behaviors and values at their work place.

In one way Sensitivity training is the process of developing emotional intelligence, which means "the mental ability an individual possesses enabling him or her to be sensitive and understanding to the emotions of others as well as being able to manage their own emotions and impulses". [Emotional intelligence, according to Merriam Webster, "describes the ability, capacity, skill or, in the case of the trait, to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups."] Emotional intelligence enable employees to act according to the situation in the organization faced by him. It develops the ability to understand others feeling and their mental status and interact accordingly. Conflicts and misunderstandings are mostly raised because of lack of emotional intelligence possessed by the person which leads to breakup in perception and relationship they main since long time in organization and effects the productivity of the organization.

Emotional intelligence became a popular study in 1995 when Daniel Goleman published his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize and use one's own emotions as well as the emotions of others to help determine what to do (or not to do). The competencies include...
  • Emotional Self-Awareness (knowing what you are feeling),
  • Emotional Self-Management (choosing your emotions - transforming negative emotions into positive emotions),
  • Emotional Self-Motivation (using positive emotions to persist under pressure),
  • Empathy (awareness of other's feelings and using that awareness for successful solutions), and
  • Nurture Relationships (creating a cooperative and collaborative climate)

The ability to stop and transform negative feelings in any given moment helps us to stop much of the stress that we might have otherwise experienced.



Goals of Sensitivity Training

While the emphases, styles and specific goals of the multitude of sensitivity training programs vary, there does seem to be some consensus as to general goals. These include:

1. Increased understanding, insight, and self awareness about one's own behavior and its impact on others, including the ways in which others interpret one's behavior.

2. Increased understanding and sensitivity about the behavior of others, including better interpretation of both verbal and nonverbal clues, which increases awareness and understanding of what the other person is thinking and feeling.

3. Better understanding and awareness of group and intergroup processes, both those that facilitate and those that inhibit group functioning.

4. Increased diagnostic skills in interpersonal and intergroup situations. For the authors, the accomplishments of the first three objectives provide the basic tools for accomplishing the fourth objective.

5. Increased ability to transform learning into action, so that real life interventions will be more successful in increasing member effectiveness, satisfaction, output, or effectiveness.

6. Improvement in individuals' ability to analyze their own interpersonal behavior, as well as to learn how to help themselves and others with whom they come in contact to achieve more satisfying, rewarding, and effective interpersonal relationships.

Different sensitivity programs may emphasize one or more of these goals or may neglect some. However, they are goals that are common to most T groups.

Outcomes of sensitivity training

The outcomes they depict (self, role, and organization) are only possibilities, and cannot be guaranteed for everyone attending a sensitivity training program. This is because some participants do not learn or learn very little from a T group experience, others learn some things, and others learn a considerable amount and variety of things and because programs vary so much in terms of their nature and goals. Possible outcomes are as follows:

Self

  1. Increased awareness of own feelings and reactions, and own impact on others.
  2. Increased awareness of feelings and reactions of others, and their impact on self.
  3. Increased awareness of dynamics of group action.
  4. Changed attitudes toward self, others, and groups; i.e., more respect for, tolerance for, and faith in self, others, and groups.
  5. Increased interpersonal competence; i.e., skill in handling interpersonal and group relationships toward more productive and
    satisfying relationships.

Role

  1. Increased awareness of own organizational role, organizational dynamics, dynamics of larger social systems, and dynamics of the change process in self, small groups, and organizations.
  2. Changed attitudes toward own role, role of others, and organizational relationships, i,e., more respect for and willingness to deal with others with whom one
  3. is interdependent, greater willingness to achieve collaborative relationships with others based on mutual trust.
  4. Increased interpersonal competence in handling organizational role relationships with superiors, peers, and subordinates.

Organization

  1. Increased awareness of, changed attitudes toward, and increased interpersonal competence about organizational problems of interdependent groups or units.
  2. Organizational improvement through the training of relationships or groups rather than isolated individuals.