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When Training Is Fun, Is It More Valuable?

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on January 28, 2015

Note to readers:  Today’s post is from my daughter Aden Kirschner, who works with me at The Art Of Change,  and it’s a great read!  I’ll go ahead an answer the headline question.  YES!  

AdenTeachesWhen I first began ongoing training with one of my bigger and better clients they explained to me that I should remove the word ‘game’ from my vocabulary when working with their employee base.  When I asked what the reason was, their reply was “these folks work hard. As an employee, I shudder to think that I spent valuable time on games when I could have been working on my budgets, presentations, forecasts etc…”

Well as you can imagine, their simple feedback was an incredible eye-opener for me.  Here, a client had hired me for my skills and training specific to the world of improv theater and comedy, and yet they wanted me to eliminate any hint of game, play, or fun from the experience when those things are an integral part of what I do!  This left me sitting with the question, ‘what’s so terrible about fun?’

As my creative partner Shana and I discussed what we should do, she suggested we answer a different question than what I had on my mind, and instead address ‘what’s valuable about fun?’ and in answering that question (and having our clients answer that question for themselves) we were able to not only keep our vocabulary, but build trust in the process of dynamic, and yes playful, training while building up our relationship with this and future clients!

When you know what’s valuable about fun, it’s easy to invest yourself into having some! Fun with a purpose is powerful, and in answering our question here is what we found.

1) Fun gets and holds your attention. I can’t speak for you, but I know that when I get bored, I check out.  I wish it wasn’t true… but there it is.  I wish I could tell you what the middle was for countless movies, but I can’t because I got bored and fell asleep, or spaced out.  I also happen to know that most of you reading this are like me. At the very least you’ll have trouble convincing me that boredom holds your attention.  Now to be fair, fun is not the only way to get and hold attention, it’s just the most…fun.

2) Fun is good for learning!  If you want facts about how fun helps you retain information, aka learn new habits, gain perspective and relieve stress, there are a number of books you can read, articles you can peruse and podcasts you can listen to. Here’s a ridiculously short (too short!) list to get your new book group started.

  1. Made to Stick: Why some ideas die and others survive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  2. This is your Brain Trying to be Funny from The Guardian US; Nov. 14, 2014, by Ian Sample
  3. Your own heart.  Seriously (…or an internet search engine).

3) Fun builds relationships. We know how to tear relationships apart: criticism, disinterest, constant disagreement, and entitled superiority.  For some bringing their relationships closer together can be mystifying. It shouldn’t be! When we have positive shared experiences with people, we feel closer to them which makes it easier to traverse the topsy-turvy twists that inevitably befall us at one time or another. Because we’ve enjoyed laughter and maybe even just a little inkling of love (or at the very least likability) we are quicker to forgive each other when the going gets hard.  Why should building relationships be limited to leisure? You probably interact with your co-workers, direct reports and clients for a much more significant portion of your day to day. Having a positive, healthy relationship with those folks can only build your success, so I say embrace it!

4) Fun is Fun!

There are other benefits to fun of course, health and wellbeing for example, and I could go on and on; but I am interested in hearing from you!  What do you think is valuable about fun?  When, where and in what way have you brought fun into your work life and achieved a positive results. Feel free to tell us your story in the comments. AND OF COURSE…. if you’re interested in having us bring a little productive FUN to your work, contact us to learn more!

Here’s to your training success!

Aden Kirschner

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