Developing a Learning Culture

Which Disney Princess is Your Learner Interaction Style?

It’s a tale as old as time: You’re trying to motivate learners and find that what works with some doesn’t really work with others. Sound familiar? That’s because different personalities and individuals have different styles of learner interaction.

Learner interaction defines how an individual best learns, memorizes, and otherwise internalizes information. For instance, while you might work best with facts and numbers, some of your learners might be stumped by the same problems you find intriguing.

Respective Learner Interaction Styles

The trick to appealing with learners is to respect their individuality and learner interaction styles. A simple way to remember who’s who is to use the personalities of Disney princesses to help you decide what type of learner you are–and the type of learners you work with. After all, awareness is the first step to creating learning that is something out of a fairy tale.

Mulan: The Driver

Whether you’re saving China or just trying to conduct a sales training meeting, driver behavior comes in handy as a way to use results as a catalyst for behavioral change. Drivers are able to make quick decisions with big impact, and aren’t afraid of a little competition as a motivator. Like Mulan, driver learners want to see results, so you’ll need to highlight how training will benefit them directly before they’ll buy in and get others on board.

Not sure if you’re working with a driver (or a driver yourself)? Imagine what it would be like to go camping with someone like Mulan. What would be her strengths? Which tasks would you assign her? Drivers are leaders and they’re motivated by getting things done efficiently and with little back-and-forth. Mulan would probably be your camp leader.

Belle: The Analyst

Even with her nose buried in a book, Belle doesn’t rush to make judgements. Instead, she gathers facts before making decisions, which makes us believe her interaction style could be classified as analytical.

Analytic learners prefer hard numbers and statistics to big ideas and brainstorming. If you’re an analytical type, you appreciate knowing how a task will affect and benefit you. Even then, you tend to proceed with caution and don’t always warm up to ideas as quickly as some would. (Before embarking on a camping trip, Belle would be the person figuring out exactly how much food will cost and the statistical likely hood of it raining.)

Working with analysts means you won’t be able to win them over with enthusiasm alone. Compiling facts, figures, statistics, and results is the best way to their hearts and minds.

Pocahontas: The Amiable

Known by both her people and the British colonists as the great peacemaker of her time, Pocahontas was probably the ultimate Disney team player. She bridged the culture gap and ultimately (at least, in the Disney version of the story) saved John Smith’s life. (On a camping trip, Pocahontas would probably be leading the campfire program and making sure everyone shares camp tasks equally.)

Amiable learners are the ones that prefer group settings to working alone. If you identify with Pocahontas’ need to be a peacemaker among her colleagues, you probably have an amiable learner interaction style as well. Keeping everyone on track and on task, as well as brainstorming as a group for solutions makes the most sense to you. Amiable learners love group collaborations and won’t learn as well in independent settings, so it’s important to appeal to their social learning sensibilities.

Ariel: The Expressive

You’d think that a girl who has everything would finally stop to take a breath, but expressive learners like Ariel are always thinking about what’s next. From thingamabobs to the next big idea for improving efficiency, if you are an expressive learner, you’re both extroverted and creative. You love brainstorming ideas and might even be considered the office cheerleader with your ability to motivate and get others on board.

When working with expressive learners, you’ll need to appeal to their love of trial and error and coming up with new ideas and solutions. Simulations, virtual reality, and even avatars work well for those that need a safe space to test ideas and then improve buy-in on those ideas among coworkers and management. Expressive types take the initiative, so they need plenty of room and freedom to work. (Imagine that it starts raining on the camping trip: Ariel would be there encouraging everyone to still have a good time and would invent some nifty umbrellas out of foliage.)


Learner Interaction is the Ticket

Who knew that Disney could be as applicable to the conference room as it is the box office? Understanding learner interaction styles might not be as dramatic as a Disney storyline, but recognizing and appreciating the differences in which learners accept and internalize new information could be your ticket to a happily ever after at work.