Training in Myanmar

So in our previous posts on “Visiting Myanmar” and “Business Culture in Myanmar” we touched on several different broad suggestions to make your experience in Myanmar more pleasant for those around you, and yourself.

Now we want to share some thoughts about the challenges specific to training in Myanmar. Again, we are using our experience in training in soft skills, whether customer service, or leadership and team management.

Also – the nature of this short post is to point out a couple of broad challenges. We should also say that we love training everywhere but Myanmar entered our hearts in a particularly enduring fashion. Training in the country is truly extraordinarily rewarding and we recommend it to all. We will also return soon, so please join us!

As said, there is a learning curve in any situation, though, and here we will tell you about two difficulties that we faced. First, there is the “embarrassment barrier.” This exists everywhere, but in Myanmar it can seem insurmountable for some participants. As professional educators in Myanmar explained to us, the emphasis in the school system has been on absorbing information, memorizing it, and then being able to summon that information on a test or when asked by the teacher. “Standing out” in class, especially through questioning, was strongly discouraged. As a trainer you therefore need to think about that, appreciate that it Is a challenge and then come up with innovative and interesting ways to engage people. Putting them on the spot will not work. We found that certain individuals were more likely than others to enjoy different teaching and learning methods, based on experiential learning and discussion.

You can increase the comfort level in the class by adapting the situation. For example, small classes made up of people who at a bare minimum all have the same “rank” in the company make for a less intimidating environment. If you can train people together who already know each other, even better. When people feel supported by their colleagues they will try anything, but providing them with that atmosphere is more challenging in Myanmar than in other countries.

A second cultural hurdle is the lack of practice in analyzing and making suggestions. Again, this is rooted in the educational system. Generally, people like to learn how to do something the “right way” and are extremely diligent and conscientious about completing the tasks in this way. However, if you ask for an analysis of a situation or suggestions for improving a process you may get some blank looks. Again, the challenge lies in Western expectations meeting Myanmar manners and educational background. They have not been encouraged to question, and even less to criticize. Even constructive criticism is difficult to do with proper Myanmar manners. We feel like this is something that we are still learning to deal with in our classes, which require so much participation to be successful. We have found that there are usually one or two particularly brave individuals who can help the instructor to get people moving past their initial reticence, but it isn’t easy.

Please let us know if you have encountered similar situations and how you have reacted. We love to share our experiences and to learn from others’.

Now we want to share some thoughts about the challenges specific to training in Myanmar. Again, we are using our experience in training in soft skills, whether customer service, or leadership and team management.

Also – the nature of this short post is to point out a couple of broad challenges. We should also say that we love training everywhere but Myanmar entered our hearts in a particularly enduring fashion. Training in the country is truly extraordinarily rewarding and we recommend it to all. We will also return soon, so please join us!

As said, there is a learning curve in any situation, though, and here we will tell you about two difficulties that we faced. First, there is the “embarrassment barrier.” This exists everywhere, but in Myanmar it can seem insurmountable for some participants. As professional educators in Myanmar explained to us, the emphasis in the school system has been on absorbing information, memorizing it, and then being able to summon that information on a test or when asked by the teacher. “Standing out” in class, especially through questioning, was strongly discouraged. As a trainer you therefore need to think about that, appreciate that it Is a challenge and then come up with innovative and interesting ways to engage people. Putting them on the spot will not work. We found that certain individuals were more likely than others to enjoy different teaching and learning methods, based on experiential learning and discussion.

You can increase the comfort level in the class by adapting the situation. For example, small classes made up of people who at a bare minimum all have the same “rank” in the company make for a less intimidating environment. If you can train people together who already know each other, even better. When people feel supported by their colleagues they will try anything, but providing them with that atmosphere is more challenging in Myanmar than in other countries.

A second cultural hurdle is the lack of practice in analyzing and making suggestions. Again, this is rooted in the educational system. Generally, people like to learn how to do something the “right way” and are extremely diligent and conscientious about completing the tasks in this way. However, if you ask for an analysis of a situation or suggestions for improving a process you may get some blank looks. Again, the challenge lies in Western expectations meeting Myanmar manners and educational background. They have not been encouraged to question, and even less to criticize. Even constructive criticism is difficult to do with proper Myanmar manners. We feel like this is something that we are still learning to deal with in our classes, which require so much participation to be successful. We have found that there are usually one or two particularly brave individuals who can help the instructor to get people moving past their initial reticence, but it isn’t easy.

Please let us know if you have encountered similar situations and how you have reacted. We love to share our experiences and to learn from others’.

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