There’s no business like snow business ….

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The snow or more accurately, the quantity of it has the effect of slowing everything down. Which is no bad thing. Life is such a pace that I sometimes welcome those moments when I am forced to change my busy plans and do something else or do nothing at all.

Well today I have read another nugget in David Rocks book ” Your Brain at Work” and as per usual I have pondered over it and asked myself ” what does this mean to me as a trainer/facilitator?”

This nugget is all about why it is important to allow your learners some control and that even when they insist they have none, there is always the choice of “choosing your mood”.

You may know that it is the prefrontal cortex that is key to new learning, but when our limbic (emotional) systems get over aroused, we suffer from a lack of prefrontal cortex function. Having some control gives autonomy and keeps the prefrontal cortex function. Even the smallest amount of choice can influence the limbic system arousal. It does not even matter if the control is a shift in perception rather than actual control. You can in fact “choose your mood” and therefore you introduce choice. This is called “reappraisal” or sometimes it is what we call reframing.

Interestingly, Rock talks about four types of reappraisal:
Reinterpreting (experiencing or thinking about something that is far worse makes your problem seem smaller)
Normalising (accepting that what you are experiencing in terms of anxiety, feelings etc is absolutely normal)
Reordering (the problem does not sit well within your values but you put a positive spin on the reordering of your values))
Positioning (same as the NLP definition – imagine you are another person or a fly on the wall observing your situation)

Practising reappraisal can help you to keep cool under pressure. This strategy, through research has been shown to have very few downsides.

So as a trainer/facilitator, when working with people who may be anxious about their jobs, family and any number of issues, it is worth sharing with them that reappraisal can help them to keep focused on what is important and help prevent them from “losing it”. When teaching line managers about emotional intelligence, reappraisal is just another tool in their toolkits to help them to be aware and be in control of their emotions. As a trainer, giving learners some choice on whether they take part in a role play or observe, could prevent lack of prefrontal cortex function and help learning.

As I look at the weather forecast and see that rain will be coming, I cannot help feeling a little disappointed. The views at the back of the house have been uplifting and the sunshine a welcome break in a dull winter, but mostly the opportunity to slow down gives me the opportunity to ponder ……… that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

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