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Tuesday Insight: Change is Emotional

People sometimes question why we use so much story in our training materials, and why we put so much emphasis on emotionally engaging learners, rather than simply delivering facts and figures, in what some consider a more ‘academic’ way, with supporting PowerPoint. 

Well there’s a simple answer to this. We’re not interested in delivering information; we’re interested in helping trainers deliver change. And as history has shown us over and over again, change occurs when people emotionally connect with a story, or a vision, and it galvanizes them to take action.  

Take the example of Blue Planet 2. The facts about plastic pollution in our seas have been available for years, and we’ve probably all, at some point, read about the volume of waste in our seas and the time it takes to break down, or heard stories of animals ingesting plastic. The genius of Blue Planet was to take these facts and make them personal. They did this by showing a dolphin mourning the loss of her baby, which probably died because the milk she was feeding it was contaminated. They brought the problem to life by showing albatross parents unwittingly feeding their chick plastic.

The public response to these stories has been powerful, and it’s no surprise that this weekend the government suggested that plastic straws (among the top ten items found on our beaches) could be banned in the UK, whilst similar steps are being taken elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has declared an ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years. 

Meanwhile, the terrible events last week in America have led to a whole series of organisations hurriedly cutting ties with the NRA (National Rifle Association). Why now? Deaths from guns are not an unusual occurrence in America; there were 372 mass shootings in 2015 alone, and 64 school shootings. 

The key difference this time, perhaps, has been the story. On one side, we’ve had the response of the students, whose bravery and determination in a time of grief has given the aspiration of gun control a new impetus. On the other, we have a president whose answer was to suggest arming the teachers with concealed weapons, and the news that, in fact, there had been an armed guard on the premises at the time of the attack, which did not prevent the deaths.   

Change happens not when people know, but when people care and care enough to take action. That’s true whether it’s a massive change that’s needed (like gun control) or a change in behaviour back in the workplace that leads to one person feeling less bullied, a manager better able to lead, or employees feeling more engaged. 

We might not be changing the world at Trainers’ Library, but even very small changes need a moment of inspiration and a desire to do something differently.

Until next time...

February 27 2018Rod Webb

Rod Webb

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