Take your own advice

I love reading best practices from the work of behavioural science because and applying them to the world of L&D. One of the best books I've read recently is Katy Milkman's "How To Change". This incredibly well-written book is full of incredible advice and research best practices on this things that measurably change our behaviour.





Here is one tidbit from the book that I think we could easily apply in an everyday training context:


People are more likely to take their own advice.


In the book, Katy outlines an example of students who were asked to advise other students (younger peers) on topics such as avoiding procrastination and doing better at school. The researchers found that the student who gave advice to others outperformed students who did not give advice. They also had higher motivation and enjoyed the process.

People are easily able to generate insights on how to tackle problems they themselves are having trouble with. Also people give advice based on their personal experiences. So they in effect are giving advice that's tailored perfectly for themselves. After giving advice, we feel hypocritical if we don't follow it ourselves. This is known as the “saying is believing effect” or cognitive dissonance.


How can we in L&D apply the "saying is believing"effect?


The biggest challenge we face in L&D is that people don't change their behaviour after training. They don't implement what was covered as they face many competing factors for their time and attention. Employees who attend L&D training come from different parts of the business, with differing demands, schedules, pressures, culture etc. Perhaps we can leverage the “saying is believing effect” by asking learners what advice they would give other learners on how to apply the key takeaways from the course? The advice giver will temper their recommendations based on their own experiences, personal challenges, and work-life (something L&D struggles to get a detailed view on) and are more likely to apply it as the learner has self-generated cognitive dissonance.


A simple approach, but one that is shown to change behaviours.


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