Human Connection: Harnessing Uniqueness for Success

How each person’s unique characteristics, values, and vulnerabilities can be harnessed for success

Next week I’ll be going to the Association for Talent Development’s 2016 International Conference & Exposition. The conference is designed to give attendees knowledge, strategies, and solutions to effectively attract, develop, and retain top talent.

One of the speakers I’m most excited about is Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who has studied vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

The other is Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, who writes on leadership and management.

These two keynote speakers actually have very little to do with learning. Instead, their expertise has more to do with who we are at our core, what makes us tick, and how our differences and vulnerabilities can be used to make us better.

As learning professionals we must remember our audience is made up of human beings.  There is power in every individual’s character, values and vulnerability that can be critical to success. Being vulnerable opens you up to human connection and connecting with others should not be viewed as a weakness. It can be the key to harnessing our talent, learning from others and building relationships.

This is something the most successful leaders in our society understand. Instead of just looking at a person’s professional characteristics and skills, they spend time getting to know people personally. They look at what drives people and use it to appeal to them.

Why we do what we do — what drives us — matters, not just in our personal lives, but professionally. The emotional reasoning behind our actions is an important factor that can communicate a lot about who we are as people. What motivates our learners or talent is something that should be at the forefront of our minds. It plays a major role in talent development, recruitment and training.

When you’re designing training modules, you should be considering why this information matters to the learner. Why should they care? Researchers are only beginning to understand the level to which emotions impact learning and it’s important to consider how you can tailor training and learning to not only appeal to the logical reasoning aspects of a person’s brain, but their emotional epicenters as well.

It’s important to remember that there is a vulnerability element in learning. People don’t always let their guard down. They’re not always open to admitting weakness to learn something they don’t know. But if you design learning and training with vulnerability in mind, then you might be able to cut through some of the barriers that prevent people from unfulfilling learning and professional development experiences and instead lead them on a path to success.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.

Author: Juliana Trichilo Cina

I’m an academic at heart with a love for the practical. My time at the University of Toronto and Queens University were some of the best years of my life. Today, I am deeply involved with my work, family, friends, and insatiable need to learn. While my love for tradition runs deep, as a first generation Canadian, I am eager to usher in new ways of thinking. I love communications, gardening, technology, and folk music—I was once called a bundle of contradictions and I couldn’t agree more. I’m a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, reader, animal lover, and wannabe comedian. I live in Toronto with my husband, son, and pet rabbit.

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