Tip #632: How the Status Quo Can Curb Learning

“I don’t accept the status quo. I do accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express.”  Stephen Colbert

“Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.'”  Ronald Reagan

There is a lot that can interfere with a willingness to learn new things.

Andrea May has identified ten cognitive biases and we have considered the first eight: Confirmation, Anchoring, Curse of Knowledge, the Dunning-Kruger effect, Functional Fixedness, Mere Exposure Effect, Not Invented Here, and Reactance in previous Tips.

Now we’ll look at the last two cognitive biases and discuss how we can counter their effect through our training design and delivery. The titles and descriptions of the biases are Ms. May’s. The commentary is mine.

  1. Status Quo bias: The tendency to want things to stay relatively the same as they have always been.

Change may be constant, but it can still be very distressing to many participants. If you are teaching about a change in procedure, employees who have used the current procedure for years are likely to object for several reasons.

First, they are comfortable with how things have been done. Second, they may fear that they will not be able to master the new procedure. Third, they may get defensive, feeling that the procedural change indicates that their previous performance has been sub par.

To enable employees to get past the feeling that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” you can have them brainstorm the pros and cons of the current procedure. This will hopefully help them to discover for themselves the need for the change.

Then show the employees what control they may have over the change. For example, they may be able to have input regarding when and/or how to implement the change so that it is as nonthreatening as possible.

  1. System Justification bias: The tendency to try to actively maintain the status quo.

When a company decides to use a more effective training strategy by moving their trainers from lecture and PowerPoint to a more interactive and participatory approach, some of the trainers may dig their heels in. As with the status quo bias, they are comfortable with giving lectures. They are also afraid of losing control over the class as well as losing their “expert lecturer” role.

They may object to table top kinesthetic “toys” (Koosh balls, pipe cleaners, glitter wands, bendables, etc.), asking if they are going back to kindergarten.

They may resist self-discovery learning activities (such as small group discussions, case studies, questionnaires, gallery walks, etc.) because they believe that the participants know too little, so the activities are a waste of time.

The fact that they will need to develop group facilitation and classroom management skills may give them pause. In brief, some of the trainers will not like it, may rail against it and may actively choose to ignore what they are being taught in a train the trainer class- at the beginning of the program.

However, these resistant lecturers may start to change their tune when they discover that participatory learning activities will enable them to get immediate feedback regarding the effectiveness of their training programs.

They will find that participating in these activities is both educational and enjoyable. They will start to laugh and enjoy themselves, fiddling with the table top toys and squeezing the Koosh balls.

As they hear about adult learning principles and the cognitive research into how the brain works, and as they design participatory activities and practice facilitating them, they will gradually become convinced as to its merit.

And any trainers who resist to the end and give a lecture when everyone else has facilitated an interactive learning activity will have to answer to their peers.

If you have recognized and addressed these biases, it would be wonderful to know what you did.

May your learning be sweet.

Deborah

Related Posts

Manage Your Holiday Stress Before It Manages You!

Saturday, December 10th from 11 AM to 2:30 PM CST

Over the river to grandmother’s house- we have an idea in our mind about how the holiday should be. But planning, shopping, baking, wrapping gifts, and preparing the house all take a toll. It’s easy to become anxious, worried about creating a perfect, memorable holiday. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other winter holiday. There are traditions to keep, favorite foods to prepare, and decorations to put up. It’s exhausting.

Then there’s the actual day. You will want everyone to feel happy and get along, but you know that the stress of the day can easily result in overexcited and grumpy grandchildren and irritable adult children. You imagine that all the time and effort you put into creating a lovely day could end up being wasted and unappreciated.

Holidays are supposed to be a joyful time. Let us help you get clear about what is not worth worrying about- and give you practical coping strategies that will help you stay calm when things don’t go the way you want them to go.

Join us for this highly interactive half-day virtual workshop on how to Manage Your Holiday Stress Before It Manages You on Saturday, December 10th from 11 AM to 2:30 PM CST. Your investment is $120. We guarantee that you will have a much less stressful holiday.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to Deal with Difficult People.

In this course you will define the behavioral characteristics and underlying needs of difficult people, assess situations in which you effectively handled a difficult person, review five steps for handling difficult people Laurel & Associates now offers courses through Teachable. Learn at your own pace.
Popular Post

Share This Post