There are some theories that get thrown about quite wildly in the L&D world. You know the types. Did you know communication is only 7% of what you say?! Did you know that we have needs we must meet in order to develop? Did you know that money isn’t a motivator in the workplace? Did you know that public speaking is more feared than death according to a poll done in the US? Did you know an energiser is key to focusing the mind after lunch? Did you know folding your arms means you’re being defensive?
Gotta love these theories. Brings the whole L&D world into disrepute. Theories that once had some meaning attached to them, some well meaning individual came along and decided to bastardise it. And life was simply never the same again. What’s worse is, we’re meant to be an educated bunch of individuals, us L&D types. We’re meant to only provide information that provides insight and we then create learning from.
It saddens me this happens. Because it shows me just how much we’ve not moved on as a profession. We openly use these theories with full confidence. And yet we’re doing the people attending our courses such a disservice it’s just awful. In recent months (and as recently as last week), I’ve had discussion with other L&Ders who admit they know the theories aren’t true, but and I quote:
they serve to help make the point
Right. You have no other way of making a point than to misuse a theory? Really? There are myriad ways we can go about helping individuals to learn using proven techniques, and beyond that be innovative and creative in how we do it, but essentially you’re just
a) too lazy to research the theory so you use it properly
b) a poor L&Der who needs to go back to training school
c) believing your own hype and won’t change your behaviour even though this is what you’re meant to be helping others with?
There is irony there. There are L&Ders in existence who will try and do right by the folks attending a course to truly learn and develop. But there are a good many who will blindly follow what has been taught to them. The problem lies in the fact that the insight derived resonates with individuals. People go – Yes, that is how the world operates, thank you for enlightening to me as such! And there’s nothing wrong with that, really. What’s wrong with it is either using an outdated model or misused theory to bolster your credibility.
Here are some alternatives.
Mehrabian myth – I’ve written about this before. If you want to make a point that body language is important in the delivery of a message, forget the facts you think are associated with it, and use language people understand. Instead of “7% of communication is in the words and 93% is non-verbal”, talk about how when you have conversations with your friends you can influence the flow and ebb of a conversation by the way you are non-verbally engaging with them. This isn’t complicated, not using jargon, and you can have a very healthy discussion about non-verbal communication.
Maslow – have we really not moved past Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Really? Physiological needs, social needs, personal needs, self-realisation – is this still the basis of what we think constitutes motivation and personal development? We’re in the year 2011 and we have nothing better to offer? How about having a discussion around what the individual wants to achieve? Giving the manager the tools to listen to and ask the right coaching-esque questions is far more powerful than a 40 year old theory on motivation.
Money isn’t a motivator in the workplace. Hmm. Much hotly debated. Frankly, it is. We have to live, and in order to live we need money. So for many, money motivates. And for those who have it, they often want more. There’s a pocket of people who think of money as a secondary motivator. They’re not in the majority though. Progression, promotion, L&D, engagement, are all important, but for most, not a replacement for cold hard money.
Public speaking is more feared than death. Because we’ve all faced death haven’t we. We are so bad at analogies that sometimes I die a little inside. People who are on their deathbeds often go through the worst experience they will ever have to deal with. Ever. And it’s pretty finite. Public speaking? Presentations? You can learn to get over that fear. And with bloody good training, you will. Will it conquer your fear of death? You imbecilic L&Der, stop comparing the two FFS.
Folding arms is being defensive. Kill me. Kill me now. I have also written about this before. There are many components to defensiveness. In fact there are many components to reading body language. And you can learn this. Not from a pseudo-expert who makes claims like this. I would stand face to face in front of all L&Ders who purport to make claims like this and shout at them until I am blue in the face.
Energisers are needed for focusing the mind after lunch. Actually this is true. But it needs to be a very well thought out energiser that truly helps to alleviate the post-lunch lull. Throwing a ball around the room isn’t the same. That’s what you did at school. We’re not at school. Well, some of you act like you are.