One of the interesting things about being in the HVACR industry and active in the technical and professional development of technicians is that you never know what inspiration will come about when you’re working on your blog. This is the fourth segment in a series on in-house training programs, and up until I read a Linked-In post by D. Brian Baker about how some people with an academic bent view the education process for trades and crafts, I had a different idea of what this installment would be about. Since I happened upon that discussion, this segment will be about what I read there.

The discussion that Brian started was about the academic community, and some of the comments that followed offered enlightening thoughts about how some think that the difference between an academic education and a trade/craft education is that with academics, people are taught to think, while in the trade/craft approach of “training” (as opposed to educating and training, which is what we in the industry consider it to be) is that people are just taught to, well, just do.

Reading some of the comments on this particular discussion, I remembered a few things…..

As somebody who ran service calls in residential and light commercial applications for many years where customer contact is on a very personal level since technicians are guests in customer’s homes (and some of their small offices that they consider to be a second home), I can attest to the fact that there are two types of customers when it comes to interaction with those who are there to provide a technical or craft service for them. One type is quick to engage in an interchange of mutual respect. A second type of person has a tendency to, as we say “look down their nose” at others. And, in accordance with the aforementioned discussion on the sometimes perceived differences between an academic and skilled craft education, it was, in my experience, that those of the second type were, far more often than not, those who either held an academic degree and worked in what could be commonly referred to as a ‘white collar’ job, or they were married to someone who held an academic degree and worked in a white collar job.

The common term that is often applied to people who act toward others in the way I’ve described is that they are a snob.

And, when I thought about that, I recalled a bit of history on the origin of that term. It came about early in the 18th century as “Sine Nobilia” ( a Latin term that means “not of nobility”) when university professors in Europe were told that they would have to offer admission to some that they considered to be lower class. This term was entered into the margin next to the person’s name in the student registry so they could be easily identified. My personal opinion is that it was noted there so professors could get ‘what they expected’ from these students, and also be able to, when one of these students dropped out, be able to say, “See I told you so” to the entities that were forcing these enrollments.

Well, as it often happens with this sort of thing, it didn’t take long for “sine nobilia” to be shortened to “snob”, and here’s where it gets even more interesting.

When some of these ‘lower class’ individuals did graduate from college in spite of what the professors thought about them, they often had a tendency to, well, treat the people in the communities that they came from differently than they treated them before they went off to school. And the term “snob” took on a new meaning….what we normally think about it today.

And, if you’ve been wondering what all this has to do with your in-house technician training program, here’s the thought that followed what I’ve noted above.

I often have to shake my head about the fact that even today, I have technicians who attend a training workshop, and in the course of our discussions on customer service, tell me that they have negative and disrespectful experiences  in which people ‘look down their nose’ at them, and it bothers them.

My response to this is a simple two-point approach.

1. One of the classic behaviors of a person with low self esteem is that, because they are unhappy with who or what they are (or aren’t), they try to make themselves feel better by putting others down.

2. When this occurs, we should have compassion for these unfortunate individuals rather than be angry or upset because of their behavior. And the reason we should take that approach is that, because we’re human, we could wind up taking some of that negative energy with us to our next call. And our customer there doesn’t deserve anything less than the best we have to offer, not just from a technical and craft approach to doing our job, but also from a customer service perspective.

Learn From Yesterday……Live For Today…..Look Forward To Tomorrow



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