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Servicing the Brain

12 Feb, 2004 By: Ronelle Ingram imageSource

Servicing the Brain

office equipment service department is selling and implementing knowledge as
our number one product. The term solution is synonymous with the word training as
techs must put into practice new ways to accomplish procedures. Enabling
customers to use the products sold to them usually falls to the service
department. The responsibilities to a client require a new set of skills for
service techs. Service employees must understand the equipment, the network it
is attached to and the learning style of the customer. Our selling and training
methods must match the learning styles of our customers. We must be able to
identify and change our styles to compliment their learning needs.

A Learning Lesson

back over this transition of learning within my own company, we find that every
employee has acquired necessary digital knowledge in a different way. Each
employee that has successfully bridged the learning gap used educational
procedures that complemented their own learning style. Their individualized
style was formed by a mixture of inherited traits, childhood based learned reactions
and environmental realities in their current life situation.

percent of how each of us learns is hardwired by our genetic makeup. Who you
are and how you learn is a random mixture of your parent’s generic pool. You
appear, you think and you react by a certain set of rules that are imbedded in
the neurons of your brain.

percent of how we learn is established by our early childhood environment. This
environment sets the tone for how a child’s brain cells develop. It also sets
the foundation of how each of us relates to our environment for the rest of our
lives. Relating to your environment is how, why and where we find our own
comfort level of learning. Effective technicians and trainers must first look
to the learning styles of those we are trying to teach or sell. Empathy and
acknowledgement of each person’s individualized style of learning is essential
for the effective transfer of knowledge. 

person views the learning process differently. Think for a moment about how
differently people can appear physically: tall, short, fat, thin, blond, bald,
male, or female to name a few. The differences in neural connections in their
brains are a 100,000 times more dissimilar than their physical exterior
features. When you think of the ramifications of these enormous differences in
perceiving the world, it is amazing we can even communicate with one another.

Brain “Matter”

a service rep attempts to teach the client how to use newly purchased
equipment, these vast differences must be taken into consideration. If the
client isn’t paying attention, there is no engagement in the brain and the
client is failing to learn.

connections grow when there is an enriched environment, stimulation and
challenging activities. Exposure to new ideas, problem solving, pattern
seeking, challenges, novelty and physical activities all help to create brain
enrichment. The “need to know” will help stimulate attention, engage the
thinking process and ultimately produce learning. A happy tech is one who is
learning and using that knowledge to help others.

dissonance, takes place when the brain does not understand a stimulus. The
brain’s attention will stay with the confusing thought, trying to make sense of
the incomprehensible. As the brain stays with the non-understood issue, all
other information is blocked out. The brain cannot process any information
while it is locked onto something that is not understood. If the learning
language is unfamiliar, the ability to learn is greatly reduced. Understanding
the meaning of previous information is essential to be able to process the
incoming data. When training techs, sales reps or end users it is vital to make
sure the first material taught is understood, before new information is

average adult brain can listen passively for 15-25 minutes. The brain must rest
before the learning process can be optimized. The adult brain can only
concentrate on one item at a time. However, the brain can address up to 16
different items per second. While processing is taking place, the brain
switches back and forth between receiving new information and processing this
information. Processing is the way the brain connects meaning to the
information it has just received.

periods that last too long, or provide too much new material are less effective
than shorter interval training. The brain learns by connecting new information
to old information. There is a problem when the level of old information is not
enough to be able to connect to the new information. Distortion in recall
(can’t remember that which I don’t understand) occurs when new information
doesn’t fit into the existing memory. When a pattern doesn’t make sense, it
cannot be processed into the brain’s memory. We must communicate in ways that allow
the brain to make new connections from past ones.

a teaching environment is too hot, cold or noisy, the brain cannot process
information properly. Your brain is too busy processing the irritation to be
able to process the learning. When someone says, “It’s just too hot (stuffy,
cold) to work,” they are telling the truth. If people are afraid or concerned
for their emotional safety, they will not be able to listen. A relaxed,
comfortable, neutral, environment is much more susceptible to learning.

old saying, “let me sleep on it” is easily explained by the way the brain
works. When we sleep, newly gathered information is actually processed and
stored into our long-term memory. Therefore, sleep is vital to long-term
knowledge. Learning requires periodic, on-going training (processing). Most of
us have heard horror stories related to technical employees who have been sent
off to a two week MCSE training school. Too much information is presented in
too short of a time. Two weeks of training, turns into two weeks of frustration,
followed by six months of self-study. 

Receiving and Retaining

is vital to understand that training methods must match the learning styles of the
customers. Techs must be able to identify and change their styles to blend to the
customer’s needs. Effectiveness must be structured around the way the brain
captures and processes information.

three days of first being exposed to a new idea or concept, the percentage of
information actually retained by the human brain is affected by how the
information was presented in the following proportions:

  • Only
    read silently—0% retention

  • Only
    hear someone say or read aloud—20% retention

  • Only
    see the information (e-mailed PowerPoint or proposal)—30% retention

  • See
    and hear—50% retention

  • Say
    aloud and personal understanding of the information—70% retention

  • See
    the process done and actually perform the process—90% retention

methods that stimulate learning and help processing take place include:

  • Sharing real life experiences; use demonstrations, field trials, or company

  • Immersion—tell a story that creates a word picture and/or moral or real life
    experience the listener can visualize and believe

  • Interactive
    concrete activities and/or hands on participation

  • Interactive
    abstract—computer training or interactions showing the desired learning process

  • Self-directed,
    interactive, animated, teaching presentation

  • Field independent activities—get customer or student away from their area of
    familiarity to see what is happening in person. This can include in-house training
    or visiting customers who are currently using the product.

of successful field training:

  • Achieve
    favorable attention

  • Generate
    an interest in you and what you are teaching

  • Convincing the customer that they need, want and can understand what you are

  • Make
    sure that the price paid (time, effort or money) must be worth the training

  • Create
    an atmosphere that allows the training to bring value and simplification to the
    working environment

Remember that learning is achieved when the brain’s
natural and nurtured state is taken into consideration. Trainers must realize
emotion drives attention and attention drives learning. Knowledge and
understanding about how the human brain relates to its environment and how it processes
and stores information is the key to unlocking the learning skills of clients. The
more our customers know and understand about how their equipment functions—the
greater our ability to have a mutually rewarding tech/client relationship.

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