Women are, by nature, very social beings. This is a good thing in many respects. According to the head of psychiatry at Stanford University, when women spend time with other women, they’re not just having fun; they’re also experiencing many health benefits. In fact, the research concluded that spending time with other women is as important for a woman’s overall health as is jogging or working out at the gym. Knowing this, it makes sense that so many women enjoy group learning environments. It’s a way for them to get the professional development they need and the social time they crave. Additionally, learning theory researchers have long said that all adults need to participate in group activities during the learning process to move them beyond understanding to application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Group learning provides an opportunity for people to share, reflect, and generalize their learning experiences.
While I’m not a learning theory specialist or social researcher, I do know what my clients say about small group learning. In short, they find it very beneficial. Some things they enjoy most include:
- Meeting other like-minded people. At any group training program, you’ll meet other interested and influential people from various departments, levels, and companies. As such, learning that’s above and beyond the course description is bound to occur, simply because of the group dynamics and what each person brings to the mix. When people from various backgrounds get together professionally, there are numerous opportunities for being challenged and stretched beyond your comfort zone. It’s a time to learn not just from people’s expertise, but also from their leadership and communication styles.
- Networking opportunities. It’s been said that there is only six degrees of separation between you and anyone on the planet you want to meet. If that’s true, then any opportunity to network should be a welcome one. The people in your group meeting, seminar, workshop, retreat, or class could lead you to the exact person you’ve been seeking out but were unsure how to approach. In fact, many of my clients have said that they found their next big sale, next great new hire, or next invaluable resource simply by networking at a group learning event.
- Letting their guard down. When you enter into a group learning environment, you get to be a new person. Having the opportunity to share, be open, let your guard down, and step outside your office and everyone who knows you is liberating. In some respects, it’s a lot like going off to college—you get the chance to rewrite who you are. It’s a time to start fresh and be a new person.
Now, this is not to downplay the role of one-on-one learning. Each type of environment has its place in the learning spectrum. But hearing the social research about women, the learning theory research in general, and the comments from my valued clients is what prompted me to introduce Speaking Spas—a speaking school designed especially for professional women who want to accelerate their presentation skills and enjoy the nurturing and relaxation of a spa setting.
So the next time you’re contemplating attending a group learning event and wondering if it’s worth your time, remember these points. You never know who you’ll meet, who you’ll become, or what other amazing benefits you may experience.
This blog is part of my Wednesday for Women blog series, where I feature stories, resources and information to help women gain greater influence, power, and confidence in their professional and personal life. Please enjoy these weekly Wednesday blogs and forward them to the powerful women in your life.
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