This is the 3rd in my series of 5 easy brain tips for engaging learners from my session at the CIPD NAP conference in June 2015. In the next few blogs I will be revealing this fab graphic by Karen Foundling on the whole series

IMG_1212IMG_1279UM is for “Use Metaphor“. Emotions can run high during any change programme and a workshop can easily turn it into a whinge-fest. Allow people time to express their emotions using metaphors and limit the time for the whingeing.
Recent research from the CIPD*, shows that using uncertain rewards in learning can help increase adults emotional response to the learning and can be used to enhance the learning experience. Games with random prizes can play a significant part in retaining the attention of your learners
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In his book, David Rock1 talks about the limbic brain (in charge of emotions) and how emotions can effectively overrun if you let them. Also suppressing them can actually increase the intensity of the emotions, as can talking about them freely. The surprising thing is, that if you talk about your emotions symbolically, with very few words it can help to keep them under control. What he alludes to is using metaphors can be a good way of expressing strong emotions, without getting overly emotional about the situation again.

For example if someone upsets me today, I could describe the feeling as a real “kick in the stomach” rather than going on endlessly about how it made me feel.

Thoughts for line managers:

Look at clean language for coaching your team members. It is a way of eliciting responses, without imparting your own judgments on an already emotive situation.

Examples of clean questions are:

Team member: “Today has been absolute hell for me!”

Clean response: “So this hell, what is that like for you?”

This way you carry on with the metaphor the individual has begun with.

Team member: “Today is going to be a complete waste of time now!”

Clean response: “In order for this day to be of use, it has to be like what?”

*CIPD Fresh Thinking in L&D Part 1 of 3 Neuroscience and Learning Feb 2014

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