11 Positive Ways to Support Another Person to Learn without Conflict
The tips I share are those I aim for, not necessarily get right all the time. They are what I do my best to implement because my research and experience tells me they are worthwhile and sustainable, the two essential criteria for me to be able to incorporate them into my life.
The truth is, no one can learn for another person. Learning is an internal process that only the individual can control. However, whether you are a learner yourself or supporting another person to learn there are ways you can set the conditions that make learning easier and more effective than it might otherwise be.
I hope you find these helpful. You might also like to use the My Commitment to Me Card to help you plan and evaluate these techniques for yourself.
I hope you give some of these techniques a try and let me know how you go. After all, that’s a great way for me to learn too.
1. Progress over perfection
Aiming for perfection is likely to be counterproductive because it increases stress levels which makes it more difficult to think and perform at our best. It also means we are less likely to experience a sense of achievement which can deter us from trying in the future. It also really bad for our self-esteem if we don’t feel we ever reach our goal.
What is important is progress toward our desired outcome. If we support others to aim for progress rather than perfection, we can help them to perform the actions that will contribute to achievement which can have a far more positive impact.
2. Be aware of triggers and use them to your advantage
A significant proportion of our actions are a response to triggers from our environment rather than intentionally planned for our benefit. A trigger is something we perceive in our environment that prompts us to perform a certain action. Most of us know about Pavlov and his dog! Possibly the most common example of this would be the notifications we receive on our devices that we find so difficult to ignore.
Every one of us will have things that trigger our actions and when we are aware of them, we have more power to determine how we will respond. We can also create our own triggers to increase the chance of performing those actions that will help us.
To encourage beneficial actions, increase whatever it is that triggers those actions and decrease what may lead to harmful actions. This might be as simple as placing an apple in the snack cupboard and the chocolates out of sight. The trick it to become aware to trigger in the first place because when we are unaware of what they are we are powerless to control them.
3. Gentle nudges
Often changing our behaviour is easier with gentle nudges. Simple reminders may be all we need to trigger us to perform those actions that support our wellbeing and learning. This is the same whether we are learning ourselves or supporting another person to learn. Setting a reminder for our future self can support us to take responsibility and release another person from the responsibility of trying to alter another person’s behaviour. This can support healthier relationships and free up space for more enjoyable conversations.
The range of A6 cards can be used as gentle nudges for a broad selection of techniques that can contribute to wellbeing and learning. If you would like a sample set sent electronically, please contact me and I will happily send some through.
4. Engage the sense of smell
Our sense of smell links directly to our brain and can retrieve our memories almost instantly. I am sure all of us have had the experience where we come across a smell that instantly transports us back in time to an experience from our past and we start feeling how we did back then. This is because our nervous system sends messages directly from our smell receptors to the part of our brain that controls our emotions, the limbic system.
Inhalation, application and bathing using essential oils has been shown to have a positive influence over our emotional wellbeing which can free our mind to learn more effectively. This can be a subtle way to support ourselves or another person to learn. There is way too much to explain here, but I would love to discuss the many potential uses and benefits of essential oils as part of my overall wellness and learning approach.
5. Learn from ‘failure’
There really is no such thing as a failure. Sure, there are things that don’t turn out as intended, but these situations provide an opportunity to determine what might result in a better outcome next time. And that’s learning.
If we fear failure we may be discouraged from even making an attempt, which is actually way worse because nothing can be gained from inaction.
So reframe the way you speak about failure and embrace those situations that don’t go to plan because at the very least, you or the person you are supporting to learn will now know what doesn’t work and be more likely to achieve the desired outcome next time. If we never try, we can never learn.
6. Share the planning
No one likes being told what to do. We all want some degree of control to determine what happens to us. But living with other people means we all impact each other and we need to be mindful of that.
When we plan together, we become more aware of what is occurring for others and we can work toward ensuring everyone’s needs are met. It helps us understand what is happening in other people’s world which is great because it enables us to have meaningful conversations.
Planning together helps us to think through what we need to get done, helps us to determine our priorities and also increases the likelihood a plan is realistic, achievable and that we have the resources we need to make it work.
Having a routine reduces the need to invest our brain’s limited capacity in unnecessary thinking and decision-making throughout the day and increases the likelihood that the things we need to do each day get done. When we are learning, we need to save our brain for all that beneficial thinking that is required for us to process new information and convert it to memories. Having a routine can also help reduce our stress and anxiety levels because we know what we need to do is achievable, we’ve done it before.
8. Create a safe environment
Feeling unsafe for any reason triggers our stress response which reduces our ability to think clearly and digest our food effectively. Learning requires focused attention which can only happen when we feel safe. Psychological safety is just as important as physical safety so we must understand all those factors that may reduce our sense of safety and address those before we attempt to learn so we can make the most of our limited time and energy.
9. Nourish every aspect of a person
We are all whole beings with many aspects that contribute to making us who we are and who we become. We need to nourish every one of those aspects to become all we were born to be. This goes beyond food and nutrition to those things that allow the mind, body and spirit to function effectively so we can achieve all we want to achieve. Be mindful of those things that bring joy and make plans to incorporate those as part of your learning activities to ensure there is a balance between pleasure and purpose as happiness comes from experiencing both.
10. Be more present
Please take note, this says ‘be more present’ not ‘be present more’. This is about the quality of the time we spend over the quantity. Sometimes there are merely moments in each day when we get to spend time with those we care about. So when those magical moments are available, make the most of them for the benefit of all involved. Remove any potential distractions so you can give your full attention to the other person. Let others tell you what is on their mind and listen to what they have to say. Above all, be grateful for having that person to share your life with.
11. Role model positive behaviours
The old ‘do as I say, not as I do’ is not a great strategy. Whether consciously or not, others are constantly observing and mirroring our actions, even if they don’t admit it. It would not make sense to tell someone to take care of themselves if we do not do that ourselves. If others see us living healthy, happy and fulfilling lives, they will want that too and imitate our actions so they learn how to do that themselves. It is only by experiencing true vitality that we understand what we are missing out on when we are not functioning at our best. So try prioritising your wellbeing for a little while and see what a difference it makes for your life and your ability to learn.