Telling someone isn’t the way the most meaningful learning occurs. Knowledge transfer and retention are much more impactful in learning moments, which are much different from telling moments.
Frustrated workplace leaders discuss it with me often. They insist that they have instructed employees dozens of times, but still they do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Certainly, there may be many reasons for this, but one reason is that telling an employee may be different than helping them learn.
People love stories. Some of the best storytellers are in fact great teachers. Stories can ignite learning moments when listeners connect with it emotionally.
In other cases, people are stuck in their habits. They hear the story but they really aren’t listening to learn, they are only listening to hear. There is a difference in the outcomes.
What happens when you believe you know the answer? Do you suggest a different path for those involved, but still they make the wrong choices? Logic often suggests that we must tell them again.
Whether we like to admit it or not, much of the power in learning comes with an emotional connection. When people are open to change or they desire change, it can occur easily. Sometimes we have to create learning moments, that moment when someone else becomes captivated enough to be inspired for change.
Telling someone the answer is not nearly as powerful as when the person can evaluate why it is the best answer. Sure, we can teach to the test. When those being tested care enough to learn the answer, they can store it in their memory.
Many can argue, this is learning, but learning the correct answer is not always the same as understanding it.
This is precisely why advertising is designed to connect with your emotions. In the 1950’s or early 1960’s smoking was considered cool, and advertisers helped create that image. In the 1980’s we had the fried egg commercial that advised against drug use.
Today training programs or advertising campaigns may include gory safety videos, car accident scenes demonstrating outcomes of driving while distracted, or even active shooter programs that ignite fear in an attempt to make a difference for saving lives.
Sometimes the best way you can help someone learn is by helping him or her discover the answer, not by telling them.
Good advice can make a difference, but often, learning moments don’t come from the mere act of advice.
Advice connected with personal experience is often much more valuable. Help someone figure it out and you’ll create a learning moment that sticks.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.