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Jul 25

getting out of your comfort zone to learn

Published by Scott Fraser

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One of the many reasons people come to train with us is to learn what they can do better when delivering training and very often a bonus of finding out they are also actually doing things right too.  One of the most significant realisations I experience from people though is just how much their training practice is embedded as a habit and that breaking that habit to improve will be their biggest challenge!

I’ve talked in previous blogs about just how valuable feedback is to improve and also how important it is to deliver it in the right way.  I love to give feedback that makes people realise not only what they are doing, but also what they are capable of.  In one of my last courses, one of the delegates commented to me that she knew that she would often be the person who did all the talking and that she had suddenly realised how detrimental that was to what she was trying to achieve.  As we discussed together, this was because her perception of what she had to do to achieve the end goal, was based upon what she had learnt to that point.  On the course, the realisation and acceptance to make the changes she needed to make to break her habits were visible for all to see; this resulted in huge gains after just two days which she could then take into the workplace.  So how did I help her achieve this realisation?

In any training I deliver, I am always considering a three-stage model like that developed by Karl Rohnke which breaks a capacity to learn into three stages:

Comfort Zone – Where we will be using the skills, knowledge and habits we have already acquired, very comfortable with what we are doing & where little if no learning will take place.

Stretch Zone – Where we will be learning and practising new skills, knowledge and behaviours that are new; these will perhaps feel uncomfortable and nervous at first, but after, you will feel like you have learnt and achieved something.  This is then the best zone to be in for real learning to take place.

Panic Zone – Self-explanatory really and usually the place where people have gone over the edge of what is realistically achievable.  At this stage they will have disengaged, so no learning is likely to take place as the freeze, flight or fight reflex will have taken over.

It’s therefore essential when designing and delivering training that you consider the types of engagement that will get people out of that comfort zone into the stretch zone and certainly not panic!

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.

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