The Dangers of Training
Years ago, I got myself a Doberman Pinscher, a dog I thought would protect me. Then, I bought a book titled How to Train a Doberman Pinscher. I opened it. The first page said, “Do not train a Doberman Pinscher.” That was an interesting opening for a book on training Doberman Pinschers. I read why the author advised against training: basically, the Doberman Pinscher has a natural intuition—they can sense danger, and they know how to react. If you train them, they will lose their intuition and follow external stimuli instead.
For example, let’s say you train a Doberman that someone lifting their hands is threatening—so, when they see someone lift their hands, they will attack. The next time you have an Italian or Jewish visitor, someone who is culturally conditioned to talk while moving their hands a lot, the Doberman Pinscher might subdue or ignore his intuition, follow the stimuli, and attack.
The memory of that book returned to me while I was visiting Belgrade, Serbia, to receive my twentieth honorary doctorate. This time, I chose to stay in a large hotel, one of the chains they have in the United States (the name of which I won’t mention because I have been warned by some good friends never to mention the names of companies or products to avoid being sued for defamation). This was unusual for me—usually, I stay in a local hotel. While there, I realized that there is a big difference between the local hotels I usually stay in and the hotels that belong to chains: the people working at chain hotels are trained. They are trained to smile. They are trained to be friendly. They are trained to provide a service, but the service doesn’t come from the heart—it comes from their training. So, they are cool, distant, and very formal. In the local hotels where employees are not trained, their warmth, friendliness, and willingness to serve are genuine. As a result, I like it more.
You should always be careful when training people to make sure that you do not squeeze out their natural abilities and substitute them with unnatural warmth, capabilities, and attitudes. A mechanistic ritual may be more predictable and repetitive, but it is much less genuine.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes