I am thrilled to introduce Talya Rabinovitz, a clinical psychologist with a passion for helping people avoid overwhelm and stress so they can be their best selves at work.
In this blog she will be sharing 3 top tips and the psychology behind them so you know not only WHAT works but WHY!
As a Clinical Psychologist, I was thrilled to sit down with Krystyna from How To Accelerate Learning and unearth the deeper psychology that explains the success of her programs for L&D professionals. If you care about understanding how to create psychological safety so that your L&D initiatives are more effective and engaging, here are 3 things Krystyna is doing that you can borrow…
(And if you need any convincing of the power of psychological safety, consider that it was identified as the number one predictor of team performance in a study conducted by Google).
Keep It Playful
Play is often dismissed as a “waste of time,” but actually, it can be very effective in regulating our nervous systems. Why do we care about that? Because the more regulated our nervous systems are, the more we stay in our highest brain, where we can problem-solve, collaborate and learn most efficiently and enjoyably. Krystyna weaves play throughout her workshops, whether it’s through a simple game or exercise – she’s even created The Learning Loop, a game that help L&D professionals learn how to maximize learning. With regards to play it may be seen as childish by some and actually what Krystyna encourages is a child-like approach to learning – maximising curiosity and engagement.
Hot Tip: What can you do to make your programs more fun and playful?
Pay Attention To Emotional Expressions
Psychologists know to watch our clients very carefully for signs that they aren’t feeling comfortable. This is a great way to get a sense of their internal experience and whether they are in their highest brain, or dysregulated in a fight, flight, or freeze mode. Krystyna is also finely tuned to the emotional states of participants in her training. A perfect example includes watching how people react to being told they need to take part in an “icebreaker” at the beginning of a new program. Noticing the visible discomfort this causes, Krystyna has come up with more enticing and engaging ways of building new relationships and groups, rather than just following a typical formula. She endeavours to make it a much more ‘natural’ experience rather than the ‘forced fun’ of an icebreaker; welcoming people in as they arrive and encouraging them to greet each other and explore the room. There may even be some simple activities to get their curiosity peaked.
Hot Tip: Pay attention to the emotional expression of the people you’re training. Don’t be afraid to test our new approaches that seem more aligned with your audience’s needs.
Be Mindful Of Your Own Nervous System
Our nervous systems are finely tuned to pick up how the people we are with are feeling. Think about how you might have withdrawn when you’ve felt your colleague is stressed or arced up, ready for conflict, when you’ve sensed your partner is in a bad mood. We’re wired to connect with each other and that means we are highly sensitive to the state of each other’s nervous systems. Krystyna is intuitively aware that how she is in the room, affects how her participants feel during her training. This is highlighted, as she speaks in a melodic voice and maintains a relaxed, open posture – signs to our nervous system, that someone is safe and it’s ok to get closer to them. This not only feels better to be around, but it also makes it easier for us to learn, as we stay in our most evolved, higher brains.
Hot Tip: Pay attention to how fast you speak and the rhythm of your voice. Play around with your pitch, volume, and speed, aiming for a more melodic, relaxed tone.
To find out how you can increase psychological safety in your work, so that productivity and engagement increase, book a 30 min strategy session with Clinical Psychologist, Talya Rabinovitz at email@example.com. You can also download some helpful resources from my website.
I am very pleased to introduce to you, (drum roll…..) Stella Collins, author of “Neuroscience for L&D” and Creative Director of Stellar Learning. Stella knows lots of great practical stuff about the brain that can help people to learn better, with more retention and in this blog will be discussing the use of your senses! Stella’s brain friendly approach fits in perfectly with our approach using the 5 secrets of accelerated learning, where the 5th secret is about the brain and how it learns the best. So here are Stella’s thoughts……
Make it real – use your senses!
Do you ever read or hear something which makes you almost feel you’d been there yourself? Then there are other times when you hear or read something and whilst you know all the words make sense and the language is clear, somehow you just don’t quite ‘get it’- it seems a bit abstract, flat, hard to get a handle on?
Perhaps it’s because the abstract information isn’t rich enough for you to get a concrete, textural, sonorous, colourful, vibrant vision of the information. Perhas there just isn’t quite enough going on in your brain to make it real and you’re relying on using your energy hungry pre-frontal cortex to analyse it.
When information comes to us directly through our senses we have a rich, complex mixture of information spreading throughout our brains. I once heard we receive over 2 billion bits of information a second. You have a visual cortex, auditory cortex, motor cortex, an olfactory bulb for a sense of smell and part of your parietal lobe to process taste allowing a rich body of information to be processed throughout your brain. But when information is like this – just words – there is no direct sense associated with them (just like in this sentence). Which makes it harder for you or your audience to comprehend because there’s nothing very tangible to process.
There’s now research to back up what great speakers and writers have always known – using language that paints a picture, rings true or feels solid is making your brain work almost as if the sensory information is really there; which literally makes it easier to make sense of.
Researchers tested what happened in subjects’ brains when they were touching rough textures like sandpaper. They saw that specific parts of the brain were stimulated when people feel texture in the real world. Next they asked subjects to listen to short sentences containing textural metaphors such as ‘a rough day’ or ‘a slimy person’ and found that the same brain areas were activated.
So if you’re training or sharing information use metaphors, stories, sensory based language because it’s really creating extraordinary sensations in your audience’s head. They will grasp your meaning, see your point or hear you out more easily – and remember it for longer too.
So your objectives are achievable. The design is brain friendly, so you know it will be memorable. You use accelerated learning principles and the ball will be in the learners court 70% of the time….but……..are you providing your organisation with a Grand Cru that has lost its fizz?
Is your training aligned to what the business really needs?
Could you have chosen another method of learning, instead of training, that would have been more appropriate or cost-effective?
Are the stakeholders involved in the analysis and the evaluation phases?
Are the outcomes going to improve performance in some way to improve the way the organisation operates?
Are L&D seen as change agents, in-step with the reality of the changes going on with the organisation?
Brilliant workshops do not lead to a brilliant organisation unless they are leading the change at the same rate and in the same direction as the organisation. L&D have to be in step with the organisation and the way in which learning is changing. Donald Taylor, talks in more detail abut the “Training Ghetto”, a place where many L&D teams find themselves – not changing fast enough to keep up with the change in the organisation and not being part of the conversation for change.
If you want to find a way out of the ghetto, then train your trainers in a way that inspires them as well as giving them the language to speak to the key stakeholders within the organisation. When they can speak the language of the stakeholders, they can really drill down to the needs of the organisation. Next Learning Loop workshop February 29th – March 1st, 2016
I recently saw “The Walk”, the story of Philippe Petit and his high wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. What really struck me was, when Philippe Petit learned to walk a wire, he started off with six wires strung parallel and as his confidence and competence increased he removed one wire until just one wire remained. He could then move the wire higher and higher up as his technique and confidence improved. Secondly, his teacher did not stand over him but directed him as to how to learn for himself.
Reflecting on this film and how it relates to The Learning Loop® , I have found that groups of learners work best when they do not face the front of a classroom but learn in a variety of ways; for themselves, from each other, from activities and from the facilitator even. This is the way that The Learning Loop® is facilitated. It does not simply “happen” but comes about through understanding four main variables that affect classroom learning. Understanding these will mean that the learners will be comfortable and at their best.
The environment – without a good environment you will severely limit the ability of the group to interact. This means that the choice of location and room set-up can help ensure that the group are ready to learn. The learners must also feel comfortable and “safe” to learn. You can help set up the right environment before they even come into the room through preparatory work and emails.(…….but that is another blog)
The balance of each group – without good balance there can be a tendency of one person to dominate a group so an idea of the attendees and their experience should be gained before an event.
How individuals and groups experience the learning – understanding the amount of knowledge that the groups already possess and be sensitive to that. Allow those with some knowledge to have a voice and share that knowledge.
Importantly – the way in which the learning is directed. This not only includes the task at hand (what is being learned) but how you facilitate that balance between self direction and facilitation.
So if you want to ensure that people learn well; not only do you have to set the learning environment up well but you need to understand how the environment affects group learning.
This is the 5th in my series of 5 easy brain tips for engaging learners from my session at the CIPD NAP conference in June 2015. The 5 brain tips can be remembered using the mnenomic CRUMMSS:
C – choice – last weeks blog
R – Rewards – this weeks blog
UM – Use metaphors
MS – Microskills
S – stories
When we tell stories our brains react not only through the traditional language areas in the brain (Brocas and Wernickes areas) but also in those regions related to the story.
So if the storyteller speaks about baking and aromas, then those regions in the brain related to smell will be engaged. In this way the storyteller can almost plant ideas, thoughts and emotions in the listeners brain by using expressive language.
This work was carried out by a team of scentists at Princeton1, led by Uri Hasson where they observed MRI scans of the listeners and the storytellers brains. They found that the brain activities matched, showing the power of storytelling.
By using positive stories through an organisation, we can influence people to believe it is possible that change can take place and it will give them the same feel good factor that others have felt, even if they have not yet experienced it.
These are the 6 questions you can answer in order to come up with a well-structured story:
What was the challenge (that worked out in the end?)
How did you feel about it at the start?
What help did you get?
What was the outcome?
What did you learn?
What does it say about you?
(Story structure by Larry Reynolds)
Stories can also be used to “prime” people prior to an event. For example before a change programme, tell stories of how other organisations and individuals have come through similar changes with positive outcomes. Prior to a training event let others tell their stories about their experience on the course (a good one!)
David Rock “Your Brain at Work”, Harper Business 2009
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
UM 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
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