Rita Pierson, like both of her parents and grandparents, spent her entire life as an educator. Although she taught all different ages and abilities over the course of her career, Pierson's philosophy on teaching remained constant: You have to get to know your students and support them in their growth, no matter how small, in order for them to learn.
"Kids don't learn from people they don't like," Pierson says. And often, neither do adults.
Her inspiring TED talk serves as a powerful reminder to anyone serving as an educator—whether teacher, manager, HR professional or CEO—that if you want someone to learn you need to connect with them on a real, human level.
Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from her talk.
"No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship." - James Comer
Pierson uses a quote from James Comer, professor of child psychiatry at Yale Child Study Center, to illustrate that even though we already know why kids don't learn—poverty, low attendance or negative peer influences—we rarely ever discuss is the value of human connection is when it comes to learning. HR executives and managers can take this lesson to heart. Get to know your employees and their interests and career goals before assigning them training sessions, and your efforts could pay off tenfold. If there is mandatory training that takes place at your company, first take the time to explain to everyone why it's necessary and make yourself available to answer any questions that may come up.
"First [seek] to understand, as opposed to being understood."
Some people think of themselves as good at building relationships and others do not, says Pierson. But no matter who you are, making a human connection with someone really comes down to a few simple things. First, and most importantly, you need to take the time to listen to your students, or employees, before trying to be understood.
" How powerful would our world would be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion?"
When people know they have someone who cares about them and supports them unconditionally, they are more likely to show up and give their best effort no matter what the outcome might be. Ensuring that every employee has a "champion" or mentor at your organization can lead not only to better performance, as employees feel understood and more connected to the organization, but higher retention. And creating a culture where failure is okay, even embraced, empowers employees to focus on "moving the needle forward instead of achieving perfection."
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