A hostage is the person that attends a workshop or meeting
only because it is mandatory. They may sit quietly or they
might attempt to convey to everyone that the particular
training is of no value. Whatever tactic they use the leader
must remember the hostage cannot be allowed to disrupt
the class and that the individual's post-training performance
will be reflected in the overall program success.

Dealing with hostages is something every supervisor, leader
and facilitator must know. There are several methods the
trainer can use to cognitively draw in the hostage so they will
not only learn but also take their new knowledge back to
their job site.

One method to deal with the hostage is to force them to
participate. The word "force" may seem a little harsh to
remember we are dealing with the hostage whose sole
purpose is to make sure he or she does not get anything out
of the session. Look for a topic where this hostage has
particular knowledge or experience that will contribute to the
overall learning of others while making the hostage feel like
a valuable class member.

How do you force this participation when someone does not
even want to be in attendance? Normally the hostage has
built up some sort of seniority (new employees seldom want
to make waves). The hostage’s longevity on the job means
that they have seen earlier changes, attempts at teamwork
or changes to a corporate culture that may or may not have
worked in the past. Let them share those experiences but be
ready to comment that this is a new process that will be
deployed differently than in the past.

If they attempt to abstain from group exercises asked him to
be an observer. During debrief for the exercise asked them
to share some of their observations. If this doesn't work,
appoint him as an observer for you next participatory
session have them be an observer again the make a point
to discuss their observations privately before the exercise is
over. Then you can credit them as you share their

Watch for the hostages as you facilitate your next training
session and be prepared to involve everybody. It is a very
culture of the organization that has created the hostage
situation so you will not find success when the learning value
of the workshop is evaluated for the return on investment
unless you free the hostage of the negativity.

Related topics:
More business by the numbers here,
Meeting "hostages"
How to handle