Whatever you do, DO NOT think about a white bear…


So, what kind of white bear came to YOUR mind? A polar bear? A white teddy-bear?

“Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1863

I first learned about this phenomena as a psych major at the University of Kentucky:

White teddy bearDaniel Wegner, PhD, a psychology professor at Harvard University, decided to test the quote’s assumption with a simple experiment: He asked participants to verbalize their stream of consciousness for five minutes, while trying not to think of a white bear. If a white bear came to mind, he told them, they should ring a bell. Despite the explicit instructions to avoid it, the participants thought of a white bear more than once per minute, on average.” 

Academically cool stuff, but why is this important to you?

When you train your staff, focus on the actions that you want them to take … do not focus on what not to do.

It’s a nuance in communication, but if you say, “don’t just hand a customer a brochure,” handing off that brochure is exactly what they will think about.

What else can you do to better train your team?

Just do it

Staff development is vital. I love the old joke where Manager A says to Manager B, “What if we invest in staff training and they leave?” And Manager B replies, “What if we don’t and they stay?”

Put training on the calendar. Assign responsibilities and accountabilities. Set goals for the training’s outcome. Then measure, monitor and adjust as necessary.

Keep the staff involved

Not just during the training session, but get the staff involved in the planning. A great first step to planning is to gather your team’s input. After all, the training is built to make the team better and make their jobs easier. So, start with them.

Keep it real

Keep in mind that you can overdo training. Prioritize.

Keep it fun and engaging

Researchers found that when they exposed mice to attention-grabbing experiences either right before or right after something they wanted them to remember, their ability to store that information was improved.” 

Now, whatever you do, DO NOT think about calling me to work with your bank or credit union.

I’ll be waiting!!!

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