Pulling for the learners

When we're pushing content, we are not pulling for the learners. It's time to get "out of their face and into their corner". When we back up the learners' endeavors, we can see what we are doing to them through their eyes. We get what it's like to be on the receiving end of the content we're delivering. We can relate to the ways the learners are relating to our expertise. We can stop being a bully and take what we dish out.

Whenever we pull for the learners, we shrink the power distance between "us and them". We de-escalate the adversarial context that gives learners the impression they are our enemies and threats to our personal security. We lower the learners' anxiety levels and guards against indoctrination. We create the space for opposing ideas, tougher questions from the curious ones and slow learners with a lot on their minds.

When we pull for the learners, we get insights into what else they want besides what we are giving them. We see the context they are in and the ways they might use our expertise. We expect them to bring other issues to the table besides their commitment to learn from us. Rather than exclude those issues as distractions from covering the material, we can bring those concerns into play.

Learners quickly get where we are coming from. They are like a horse that instantly knows how confident the rider is feeling. They read the instructor's intentions vigilantly because it has a major effect on their experience. If their interests are getting looked after and included, they feel understood and validated. If their interests are dismissed or downplayed, they feel neglected or diminished.

Pulling for the learners creates a context for the content we intend to deliver. When we are representing the learners' interests, the information appears to be useful, meaningful or life changing to them. The value of our educational offering is in the eyes of the beholder, not on the label stuck to the package or in the fine print on our credentials.

We share our expertise with an increasingly receptive audience once we appear to have shared their points of view. Pulling for the learners creates demand what what we've got to say. We reap what we sow: seeds of mutual respect and continual growing with each other.

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