“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”~William Butler Yeats
How do you share information and pass on knowledge? If you’re like most people, you communicate as much as you can in as short a period of time as you can, and then consider the job done. In keeping with today’s high-tech society, we download. More often than not, that simply doesn’t work.
Pouring information into the minds of others does not guarantee that they will understand, learn, or use what we’ve given them. People must be energized and excited by the information in order to truly incorporate it. They need to feel an inner need to learn more, know more, and do more. Unfortunately, we often forget this in all aspects of our lives – as managers, teachers, colleagues, parents, etc.
We need to remember that less is often more. That helping those we’re trying to teach find a personal reason to learn what it is we’re sharing with them is much more effective than simply filling them with facts, figures, and data. By using the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) principle, and figuring out what’s in it for that person to want to know the information or learn about the topic, we can help them be more willing to learn. We light their fire of interest and inspiration.
Countless new (and not so new) managers stumble because they simply push what they know towards their employees. As do parents, teachers, colleagues, family members, and friends. Successfully connecting with others is easier when we put forward the information in a way that clicks for the other person and excites them. Then we know the fire has been lit.
Find an opportunity to teach someone something they need to learn, and deliberately choose to give them less information and more space to make it their own than feels comfortable to you.
Where are you trying to fill a pail with information? How could you light a fire instead?
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