The brain learns quicker and better when the learner is comfortable, so it pays to invest in making your trainees comfortable and open to learning. Here are some strategies to put learners at ease that can make training sessions more successful.

by Sheri Kendall
Date Published November 3, 2020 - Last Updated October 30, 2020

This article originally appeared in ICMI.  

Imagine arriving on your first day of new hire training and the trainer meets you at the door with a big smile on his face, calls you by name, and enthusiastically shakes your hand. With a warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart, you enter a magical room filled with the sounds of music; bright colors are everywhere and the walls are adorned with motivational quotes that leave you feeling inspired. At your desk, you find a colorful index card with a thought-provoking question that piques your curiosity - it asks you to recall the most challenging customer problem you have encountered and the solution you provided. Soon you are joined by other smiling new hires eager to interact with you.

The experience described has provided the opportunity for the neurochemicals of happiness to work their magic. The trainer’s warm welcome released oxytocin, the hormone directly linked to human bonding. The low lighting and calm music released GABA, an anti-anxiety molecule, which lowers fears about the learning experience. The thought-provoking question allows you to recall a positive experience which increased the serotonin in the brain, which boosts the ability to remember and learn.

The Business Case for Happiness in Learning

Emotion has a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. Emotion has a particularly strong influence on attention, motivating action, and behavior. When these substances are released into the brain, it has positive effects on our memory as well as our brain's ability to learn. The chemicals increase the brain's capacity to make connections and make connections quickly.

Here are three steps to foster happiness in a classroom setting:

Happiness is not a fake-it-until-you-make-it proposition.

Happiness is only present when self care needs are met. Wellness coach and CX expert Jenny Dempsey reports that success starts from the inside, and when employees are happy, so are their customers. The same can be said for members of the training team. When the trainer is happy, so are their learners. In Jenny’s interview with Talk Desk, she notes that ignoring the need for workplace wellness can lead to more people reaching their limit, brains getting fried, and people being generally disgruntled.

Consider conducting a workplace wellness audit with your IT service team. When leaders role model healthy choices at work, trainers are more likely to engage in a healthy lifestyle at work. A necessary step in every workplace wellness audit includes a review of leader behaviors. Workplace wellness begins at the top. Walk the walk and workplace wellness will soon be trending in your contact center.

Design for the Emotional Well Being of Your Learners

In Brain-Based Learning, Eric Jensen states, “First engage the emotions appropriately; then continue to engage them. Engaging emotions must be intrinsic to the curriculum rather than something done as an afterthought.”

Design relevant activities that engage positive emotions throughout the learning experience.


  • Bore your learners with an agenda, classroom rules, learning objectives, and the location of the bathrooms.


  • Open with a powerful exercise that fosters connections between learners.
  • Provide the opportunity for them to share a success or reflect on a happy memory relevant to the topic.
  • Add movement to activities.
  • If in person, design the classroom space with movement in mind.

Motion increases oxygen to the brain, which also increases cognitive function. Sharon Bowman introduces trainers to the 10-minute rule in her book Using Brain Science to Make Training Stick. “About every ten minutes, stop talking and have learners do something that includes physical movement.”

Also, remember that collaboration provides an opportunity for learners to connect with each other while being exposed to different perspectives. Create opportunities for group work throughout the learning experience.

Measure Emotion

In a recent Customer Think blog post, Jeannie Walters CEO of Experience Investigators, explored the future of emotions in learning. She stated that “several patents filed recently by automakers and technology companies are describing technology to identify human emotions.” She asks us to consider what this could mean for learners. “If technology could recognize when the learner is frustrated, the content could be adapted to present additional information, slow down the pace of instruction, or more. Learners would feel more accomplished by seeing results based on their emotional state.”

In the meantime, consider using a tool like Waggl to engage their voices in real-time. Use this tool to ask meaningful questions that will result in actionable feedback. Another tool to consider is Metinmeter; this tool can be utilized to create polls, interact with the audience and provide insight at the end of the session.

The data can be used to identify when learners became frustrated, bored, or unhappy. Use the data collected to alter the direction of the session and review after the training session to revise the content before the next session.

Conduct a workplace wellness audit and ensure your trainers have the tools necessary to engage in self-care. Design and facilitate training sessions that provide an opportunity for the neurochemicals of happiness to work their magic. Measure emotion before, after and during the training event. This design strategy will ensure agents are prepared to provide memorable customer experiences in record time.

Sheri Kendall’s career in education began in 1999. Since then, she has developed workplace learning opportunities for non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, government agencies, healthcare organizations, and contact centers. Her passion for creating positive change within organizations led her to Wayfair and her current role as the Service Training Manager. The education that she provides to her training team inspires them to do their best work and to find purpose and meaning in the service they provide. Her current interest includes the study of the relationship between customer experience, employee experience, and learning and development. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Management from Northwestern Christian University and a Master's degree in Training and Development from Roosevelt University. Follow Sheri on  Twitter  and  LinkedIn .
Tag(s): supportworld, best practice, training, employee engagement


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