5 tips to decrease resistance to learning

Continuity programs
26 January, 2021
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10 March, 2021

5 tips to decrease resistance to learning

Some of us know people who love to learn new things, often obsessed with starting and mastering these topics, which they will soon leave behind, focusing their attention on others that go on the radar. “Shoshin” is the Buddhist word that represents an attitude of openness, enthusiasm and lack of prejudice when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level. Beginners mind is the best English translation.

These people have several distinctive factors, but above all, they never tire or show resistance to learning.

Most of us work differently. We favor the mastery of what we do to the point where it becomes “automatic”, storing that knowledge in another part of the brain that from that moment allows us to accomplish tasks or cognitive work in an easy and efficient way.

There are several examples of this in our day-to-day lives. When we get home and do not remember the path we took by car, when we ride a bike, when we complete a morning or work routine that has long been consolidated.

This preference for automation makes it more difficult to say yes and to welcome some of the new corporate requirements with open arms: lifelong learning is necessary, we must have a continuous growth mindset, don't forget: shoshin... etc.

Rationally we know that the current context requires adaptability, but the change is tiring and makes us expend a lot of energy, so naturally, we end up not welcoming when asked to learn to do "different". And almost all of us, I bet, have been through this... "A new software?" "A new way of doing it?", "A new boss?", "Another training!?"... the list is long.

We also know that the “usual” way of doing it led us to be specialists in some way. The change will lead to the loss of a feeling of competence, which we do not know if we will recover... and nobody likes to feel "incompetent".

Understanding the discomfort of the participants when arriving at the training moments is important to bring them to the right mindset, but we can work better on the presentation and design of the learning so that we can have less resistance.

We share 5 good practices that we recommend, to reduce this resistance to learning something different in a professional context:

• Ensure that teams know and understand the need for change. Your previous buy-in reduces resistance. Do not let the context and framework of the change be generated in the minds of the participants.

• Get experts on the topic to co-design the experience. If participants know that the drawing had the contribution of those who are “referents”, the willingness to participate increases significantly.

• Test and improve the experience before and after the rollout. It is important to ensure a feedback loop that allows for better learning before its dissemination. No teacher prepares the “perfect lesson” at the first attempt and teaches it always as the initial way.

• Identify an already measured KPI that is impacted by learning. Finding a measure of the organization that can be influenced by training ensures accountability for participants and decreases barriers to learning - we do better with this indicator.

• Bet on continuity and ritualization. No one changes behavior after 2 hours of a theoretical framework, a group discussion and a roleplay. Even with very impactful experiences, the challenge of transferring to day-to-day life is significant. It is necessary to force practice, remembrance, comfort with the necessary transformation, until it is "automatic" again.

If the impact assessment is usually the main challenge of the formative aspect, let us make the development of the learning experience optimized so that participants have more predisposition and less resistance to learn.


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