Let’s begin with love. Different people want to be loved in different ways.
How do you like to be shown love?
When I ask this question in my management or supervisory development workshops, participants laugh at first. But then it becomes clear they’ve never really given it any thought. Have you?
Do you want to hear your loved ones say ‘I love you’? Is hearing it said out loud important to you? Do you want to see it in writing? On a birthday card, for instance; or love notes hidden here and there? Would you be happy with an e-card? Some of my family members want to have a printed paper card for their birthday. Personally, I don’t need to have a card in my hand for that emotional connection. We are all different. Some people want to be shown love with a gesture or physical touch—a hug, a kiss, a caress; a private sign that no one else knows. There are also those who would prefer to receive a gift or flowers or chocolates as a token of love.
First it is important to decide what your own preferences are. Then there is the other party, and life becomes complicated.
How about your loved one?
How does your loved one want your love to be expressed? You are never going to be happy in a relationship until you figure out how your loved one wants to be loved. And if your personal style differs from that, you still need to make an effort to change, rather than expect the other party to change. Or find someone else to love. And if its about showing love to family and friends, again you need to be sensitive to their preferences.
Personal preferences are important in teaching and learning too
Management and learning theory shows that people learn differently. And over my long training career—spanning two decades—I have had many opportunities to observe this in action; among kids, among youth, among urban micro entrepreneurs, small and medium business operators and their managers, among villagers living in the most rural interiors of the country, among factory workers, office workers, supervisors, executives and senior management types.
- Some people want to listen and learn. They obviously must love school and lectures and seminars. Yes, and trainers love them too, let me assure you.
- Others prefer to read and learn on their own. I am in that group. It’s fine with me to listen and learn, but I do it way faster when reading. These are the people who browse the notes or read the presentation slides. And they are the ones who come the next day having read everything. Trainers love you too.
- Another group would like to do things hands on. These are the people who don’t read the recipes or instruction manuals before they begin. They like to go on a trial and error basis and figure things out for themselves. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just another way of learning, but people don’t really appreciate that fact. Without such people, there wouldn’t be too many inventions or progress in the world. These people are a joy to have in workshops.
- Teaching can be another way of learning. As a trainer, I try to provide opportunities for them as well.
- Discussion and dialogue is another way to learn. This has been the practice employed by ancient philosophers. They give you with the opportunity to learn things, to think about what you learn, to explore your responses to what you learn, to present them in your own words, to question and to clarify.
Which is better?
None of these ways of learning are better than the other. If you are in the trade of teaching people, helping them learn, whether they are kids or adults, you need to find the best ways to facilitate learning.
Engaging more than one sense is always more effective
This is why lectures only is a no-no for me. Sure I give short speeches, but I will always have a presentation too, whenever possible. So the folks who love listening and those who love reading will have something to go by.
Workshops offer more promise. You can get people involved in group sessions, problem solving, discussions, interviewing, consulting style activities, drawing, writing, signing, discussions and dialogue. In my workshops I create many opportunities for people who want to teach, discuss and participate in group activities.
Participant feedback reflects this
So far, at least 95% will recommend my workshops. Often it is 100%, and yes, I carry a measuring tape to keep my head from swelling! But in some cases, between 2-5% do not recommend them, according to their post-seminar evaluations. I console myself thinking there will always be that one or two who do not take on board anything I say. In one of the very first public seminars in which I was a lecturer—I was just one of many—a small businessman from Anuradhapura got up and said at the end:
“We learned a lot, but remember, even Lord Buddha failed to convert everyone to his message. Do not be disappointed that some people do not take on your message.”
I’ll always remember his comment. But at the same time, you also cannot help but regret not reaching that one person effectively. It is a constant challenge I have set for myself. And it keeps me on my toes as a trainer.
Read future notes from the TRAINER’S JOURNAL to find out more about training activities.