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Rod Webb

Glasstap Limited

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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Why we need to engage head AND hearts!


What happens when we ‘tell’ people how to behave, but we don’t engage them emotionally? 

And, in those circumstances, what happens when people no longer feel they need to conform to the ‘rules’, or society gives them an anonymous platform in which to ‘relax’?

A few weeks ago I provided a link to the film made by Channel 4 and, if you didn’t watch it then, I’d like you to take a moment now to view it, before reading further. 

It’s pretty shocking isn’t it? 

My point is this – I don’t believe there is a single person in the UK who hasn’t been ‘told’ at some point in their lives, whether at school, in the workplace or elsewhere what’s acceptable behaviour in modern society - and yet this sort of thing still happens. In fact, in the last two years, the UK has witnessed a staggering increase in hate and religious crime, as the political status quo has shifted.  

Admittedly, this video provides an extreme example of people not buying into the messages they’ve been ‘given’. But think about your own organisations. What training are you delivering that people aren’t truly buying into and what’s the implications of that for you, your organisation and your customers? What happens if your learners don’t really believe in the importance of customer service – they just go along with it? What happens if your managers don’t really believe in the power of employee engagement – they just pay it lip service?

People’s behaviours are not driven by what they know – they are driven by what they know AND what they feel, believe and value. We cannot change behaviour by focusing only on knowledge – we need to work with our learner’s heads and their hearts – with their existing feelings, fears and beliefs.

Yet, when it comes to training, it sometimes feels like there’s a relentless push towards information-based learning, with more and more organisations relying on e-learning to deliver training, including Equal Opportunities, as ‘economically’ as possible. (I’ve put economically in quotes because I’d question the value of any training that doesn’t truly engage the learner and provide real change.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against e-learning. It can be a really useful tool – particularly if, like ours, it requires you to apply the learning as you progress – but its effectiveness relies on its audience having already bought into the core message and being self-motivated to learn and apply new skills. 

It’s when we need to work on attitudes and beliefs that the strength of workshop/classroom training shines through. It provides unique opportunities to challenge learners, to test their existing beliefs, to provide space for learners to discuss experiences and to find (and therefore own) their own solutions. In short, classroom training is still the best option if you want to deliver experiential learning that is learner, not trainer, led.

Of course, all this depends on using the classroom effectively. To be blunt, if you’re just using the classroom to deliver information, my advice is don’t bother;
e-learning excels at that. You need to use the classroom to do something else – and that something else involves your learners’ hearts.

Now, let’s go back to Equal Opportunities. Most people, in my experience, enter Equal Opportunities training with one of the following attitudes:

  • This doesn’t apply to me.
  • I’m not racist, homophobic.
  • It’s just about political correctness.
  • What’s the point?

So, what if you could launch your training with an exercise that illustrated beyond doubt that we ALL make assumptions about other people, that we can all be guilty of classifying, or stereotyping people. What if we could launch the day with an exercise that showed people where their own prejudices come from….

Well, hey presto, you can! Witches of Glum, available as a free sample on Trainers' Library, does just that. (Unfortunately, for understandable reasons, I'm not permitted to provide a direct link here, but it's easy to find.) And it’s so effective, it’s been endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card. 

Until next time…


Author Profile Picture
Rod Webb

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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