By Marcus de Courtenay

Picture this: it’s 1pm on a Wednesday and you’re sitting in a training session. You’ve had a stressful morning where your boss snapped at you because of a concern the team won’t meet an upcoming project deadline. One of your direct reports is unwell today and may not be in for the rest of the week. You’ve been frantically trying to map your priorities and how to meet the various demands of the pipeline.

Your mind is vibrating with these anxieties. Your eyes are on the presenter, but your attention feels like it has been squeezed out of your head by worry. ‘What have we learnt today?’, the presenter asks at the end of the session. You scramble to try and remember a key theme from the slides. The answer is ‘nothing’, of course. You were miles from the right mindset to learn.

As we deepen our understanding of neuroscience and adult learning, we’re coming to find that in this frame of mind, not only are you poorly disposed to learn, you are actually neurologically blocked from learning.

This article originally appeared in Training & Development magazine, December 2021 Vol. 48 No. 4, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development.

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