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Previous: 10 ways to use emotion cards in your workshops and coaching sessions

Mind hacks

Mind hacks to help you cement positive habit changes


Great trainers help individuals examine, evaluate and change behaviour. But as anyone who has attempted to modify an ingrained habit knows, it can be very difficult to make the change stick.

New research from David Neil, Wendy Wood and Jeffery Quinn at Duke University suggests that nearly half of our everyday behaviours are repeated in the same location every day and that we spend a lot of time on "auto".

"Without habits, people would be doomed to plan, consciously guide, and monitor every action, from making that first cup of coffee in the morning to sequencing the finger movements in a Chopin piano concerto" they note.

It's a popular belief that a new habit requires around 20 day to become permanent, but this is a myth according to researchers at the University College London. They suggest it's more like 66 days, with more intensive habits taking longer still.

So what can we do to help the process along?

Build a "pathway" for the habit within your day. Help your brain work on autopilot and set up a series of cues to activate your new habit. For example, if you want to get to the gym every day, try to set a regular time to go. Pack your gym bag in advance and leave it somewhere you'll see it in the hour before the chosen time. Drink water an hour before. All these actions are prompting your mind that the habit is coming up, and will help "groove" it in your brain.

Spot old "bad" pathways and disrupt them. If you want to spend less time checking email, shut down email notifications and remove the mail icon from your desktop. Commit to checking mail only twice a day at set times. "Unless you deliberately fight a habit--unless you find new routines--the pattern will unfold automatically." says Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.

Use rewards. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that the basal ganglia, the part of the brain which is linked to habit behaviour is most active at the start, when the habit is triggered and end when the habit is rewarded. Having a clear reward in mind for any prospective habit behaviour can help solidify it more quickly.


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10 ways to use emotion cards in your workshops and coaching sessions

May 2014
Emotion Cards

Picture cards are an essential part of every facilitator’s toolkit. They are powerful, elegant and easy to use tools that take communication to a whole new level because anyone looking at them makes their own instant associations. They elicit open, insightful and honest dialogue. Effective questions speak directly and honestly to the issues the participants care about, and encourage them to share their unique perspectives and experiences. They enable tacit knowledge to be understood and shared leading to new meanings, understanding and learning. Are you using them as effectively as you could be?

1. To start off a session

  • Choose a card linked to why you are here and use it to explain this to your partner / other participants…
  • Which picture represents where you want to be at the end of the seminar?

2. To learn more about individuals participating in a group process

  • Choose a card, which is linked to something about yourself which nobody here knows about you…
  • Is there a card that says something about you as a person?
  • Are there any two photos that describe contrasting parts of who you are?


3. To help an individual understand what they think about a topic

  • Choose a card that expresses what you feel coaching is…
  • Choose a card that represents what great customer service is all about…
  • Choose a card that explains to you what good prioritization is all about…

4. To coach an individual towards reaching a goal

  • Choose 5 cards. Tell me what this one says about your goal? What does this one say about how things are at the moment? What does this one say about the options that are currently available to you? What does this one say about the resources, skills and support that you have that will help you reach your goal? What does this one tell you about the first steps you will take?
  • Is there a card that represents how you feel about your situation right now?
  • If you could, what would you like to change in the card?

5. To kick off a discussion about a topic

  • Choose a card which explains some of what it is like to be a middle manager…
  • Choose a card to represent how you feel about one-to-ones…

6. To develop a vision of the future

  • Choose cards to produce a visual collage of your collective desired future…
  • Explain what this means?
  • In what way are we close to this?
  • In which areas do we have a long journey ahead?
  • Choose cards to represent obstacles which lie ahead…

7. To give feedback

  • To choose a card which represents for you a characteristic of the person you wish to give feedback to…

8. To review an experience or activity

  • Choose a card which represents your feelings during that exercise…
  • Choose a card which represents something you learned as a result of that experience…
  • Choose a card which represents how the group operated during that activity…
  • Which picture reflects a state you were in during the learning project?
  • What was helpful during the learning project? Which picture best reflects this?

9. To develop creative responses to a problem

  • Choose a card at random and jot down 12 words that spring to mind when you look at it…
  • Now apply each of these words to your problem, how do they connect to, shed new light on, link to your problem? What ideas does that word help you generate?

10. To close a session

  • Choose a card that represents your experience of today…
  • Choose a card that represents something you are taking away from this experience…
  • Choose a card that represents something you would like to feedback…
  • What was one of the most important outcomes for you and which picture represents this outcome?
  • What are you going to put into practice in your daily life?

In summary, picture cards can help learners to…

  • Tap into personal experiences and feelings
  • Understand a variety of perspectives
  • Have private time to reflect before sharing with the group
  • Seek patterns and make connections
  • Elicit stories and create metaphors
  • Articulate what is known to the group
  • Articulate what has been unspoken or “undiscussable”
  • Create dialogue
  • Build on ideas
  • Explore complex issues
  • Imagine alternatives
  • Spark humour and playfulness
  • Transfer learning into new situations


Can you afford to be without a pack?

Metalog EmotionCards