You have to make so many decisions every day as an educator or educational leader. It’s overwhelming and enough to drive you to burnout. Add to that the change that happens seemingly every minute in the classroom or the office.
We can’t train on how to manage our brains around the constant disruptions and distractions. But you can change how you plan for and react to them.
This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Melina Palmer, a behavioral economist who consults with businesses all over the globe. She’s the author of the new book, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell you. We explore what your teachers (and students) need and want and why it’s so hard to put that into words. We also talk about why the Golden Rule is antiquated and why we need to focus on the Platinum Rule instead.
Melina is the real deal when it comes to behavioral change and there are so many takeaways from this conversation. But don’t make the mistake of trying to change everything at once. Instead, tune into some micro-shifts to make long-lasting changes.
About Melina Palmer:
Melina Palmer is founder and CEO of The Brainy Business, which provides behavioral economics consulting to businesses of all sizes from around the world. Her podcast, The Brainy Business: Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy, has downloads in over 160 countries and is used as a resource for teaching applied behavioral economics for many universities and businesses. Melina obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration: marketing and worked in corporate marketing and brand strategy for over a decade before earning her master’s in behavioral economics. A proud member of the Global Association of Applied Behavioral Scientists, Melina has contributed research to the Association for Consumer Research, Filene Research Institute, and runs the Behavioral Economics & Business column for Inc Magazine. She teaches applied behavioral economics through the Texas A&M Human Behavior Lab and is the author of two books, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You and What Your Employees Need and Can’t Tell You.
Jump in the Conversation:
[2:15] – What teachers need but we’re not attending to
[2:40] – Psychology of decision-making
[3:03] – Change isn’t what we think it is
[4:30] – Every conversation is some sort of change
[8:02] – Golden Rule and Platinum Rule
[11:35] – How can we unpack what teachers need or want
[13:33] – Asking questions shows they’re interested and want to know more
[14:15] – Where can you help take repetitive items and take them off teachers’ plates
[15:52] – Teachers don’t go into the profession for the pay
[17:46] – Change is all about you and has nothing to do with you
[19:20] – There’s value in being empowered to change the way you respond to anything
[22:38] – What we need to tune into to implement change
[23:28] – It’s not possible to remove bias from your life
[25:36] – Micro-shift moments: Get a win and keep on going
[28:36] – Pandemic was spotlight on institution of education
[30:15] – The way change is presented makes all the difference
[34:48] – Turbo Time
[36:55] – What people need to know about interpersonal communication
[39:37] – Making something more bite sized can you look more knowledgeable
[40:58] – Melina’s Magic Wand
[42:41] – Maureen’s takeaways
Links & Resources
- Episode 56: Getting to the Brainy Business of School Change
- Melina’s Books
- The Brainy Business Podcast
- Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain: Human Evolution and the Seven Fundamental Motives by Dr. Douglas T. Kenrick and David E. Lundberg
- A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger
- Beautiful Questions in the Classroom: Transforming Classrooms into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry by Warren Berger
- Email Maureen
- Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools
- The Education Evolution
- Facebook: Follow Education Evolution
- Twitter: Follow Education Evolution
- LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution
- EdActive Collective
- Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids
- Micro-school feature on Good Morning America
- The Micro-School Coalition
- Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education, evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
I’m Melina, it is so good to have you back.
Melina Palmer 1:12
Thank you. I’m so delighted to be here.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:15
And listeners today I’m chatting with Melina Palmer, founder and CEO of the award winning business and podcast, the brainy business. Molina was my guest in Episode 56, when we celebrated the first year anniversary of the podcast, and Molina, you apply behavioral economics, which sounds daunting, but you help us understand psychology and why people buy why people do things. And I am super pleased to get to celebrate the release of your second book, and look at the implications for our teachers, which of course means for our students. So thank you.
Melina Palmer 1:52
Yeah, thank you so much for having me and excited to be here talking about anything with you. You know, I’m always, always glad to see.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:01
Thank you. Of course, we want our teachers and students to thrive. And your new book when employees need and can’t tell you. It directly applies to what our teachers need, and that I don’t think we’re hearing or attending to as they continue to leave the profession in droves. Maybe you can start out by talking about the gold rule platinum rules, why it’s not enough to help us.
Melina Palmer 2:31
Sure. Well, and like you said, behavioral economics I know sounds like it’s this really weighting field. But you know, at its core, it is psychology of decision making, right? So why people do the things they do. And this second book will always need and can’t tell you is really focused on how people react to change, and how we respond to change how we present change in any aspect. The first piece that’s really important to note there is change isn’t really what we think it is. It shouldn’t it doesn’t have to just be big stuff, right to say, Okay, we’re all having to randomly switch over to be completely virtual, which we’ve never done before. And that is to change. And only things of that level are worth noting, or someone is changing from teaching first grade to 10th grade or something where we’d say that’s a change that matters. But nothing else is important enough to come up into play. Really, the brain works in micro moments and tiny, tiny moments of decisions. The average person makes 35,000 decisions every single day. 35,000 decisions a day. And those I know. And so the bulk of that has to be done by our subconscious processing, which uses rules to make decisions based on things that have worked well in the past for all these tiny little micro moments. And that is why we love the status quo. We have a familiarity bias. And when we start to get a little bit overwhelmed from even little things that seem like they shouldn’t have any impact on the thing that we’re focusing on at work right now. Our brains don’t really compartmentalize the way that we would like to think that they do. And so things can really stack up. So when it comes to change, I make the argument that every interaction, every conversation is one of change. You are either in the middle of some sort of change that’s happening. You are in the wake of a change that has recently happened or you’re preparing for a future change that’s going to be coming down the road. And again, it doesn’t have to be the sort of big stuff. Our brains get bogged down with, you know, there’s construction on your way to work and you have to take a different route that can make it so things get a little bit bogged down You may have a different reaction than you would like when you get into the classroom later, or you’re presenting information. So even little things can be really impactful on our decision making. So that first step is really important when we think about communicating with anyone.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 5:15
That makes really good sense. And it is boggling to think about 35,000 decisions a day. And no wonder people are feeling wiped out. And I know teachers, they get slammed from the secondary in the door with so many students asking questions and, and parents like, Wait, they’re gonna be late, what’s the homework and how and so I can only imagine that teachers are on the high end of the decision making pyramid.
Melina Palmer 5:45
Absolutely. And you think about just even the state of overwhelm that the children might be in when they come in, right. So that then piles on to the mindset that the teachers in and then if you have, like you said, parents who are stressed out and dealing with all sorts of changes for you know, at the beginning of the school year, coming back after a break or a long weekend, things that disrupt our schedules can make it to where we’re a little bit off. And so one thing to say here is, we can’t really not, it’s not something that we get to train out of us in this way, right? So what instead is to know that this is the way that the brain does respond and react to little things like this, and a little change, even if it’s something we’ve dealt with a lot like Monday holidays that come up or teacher in service days, or whatever is happening. To know that that’s a point coming in on the Tuesday might be a difficult moment for parents, and for the students coming back after a longer weekend. And that could then kind of snowball for the teacher is, you know, if you have a moment with the faculty to take an extra, you know, breath before classes start in the morning on the Tuesday after the holiday, or there’s maybe a little bit of a prep that you do think being thoughtful about it the Thursday or the Friday before of you know being able to talk about what we’re going to be doing to be ready for Tuesday and to be, you know, in that kind of armed and ready knowing that you might have a little bit more unruly kids in the classroom and stretched too thin parents on Tuesday. And so what do you want to be doing to make sure that that’s not going to then snowball, but maybe you want to have more of a relaxing and centering type of exercise in the morning on Tuesday for the kids to help them be able to focus and have a good rest of the day and rest of the week. And knowing that little bit of thoughtfulness upfront, can make a huge difference down the line instead of trying to force it because willpower isn’t the best approach and changing behavior.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:57
Yeah. So then if I’m just trying to do unto others and be, you know, the golden rule, or as you have in the book, the platinum rule, it doesn’t sound like that’s gonna get to the level of attending to our teachers that we need.
Melina Palmer 8:15
Right, right. And that’s where so you you mentioned, and you had asked me about the golden platinum rule. So I’ll just reiterate them here now. So the golden rule is do unto others as you would want done unto you. That’s not really right. The platinum rule then beyond that is to say, treat others as you know, as they want to be treated, which is important. Unfortunately, our instinct would be, we should just ask them what they want. People are really bad at knowing what they really want. And even beyond that, being able to properly articulate what they’re going to want. And often what we think we want isn’t what makes us happy at the end of the day, which can be frustrating, but that’s where behavioral science has been able to find some of these. So as an example of this, there was a photography class that was done at Harvard. And they had you know, students taking lots of photos through the year there were the best two that were created and you know, blown up into prints, they were able to choose one to keep at the end of the class. In the one treatment, they were told you can pick either of the two that you want. And the other one is going to be here on campus will keep it in an archive forever. You can always go back and change and get the other one so you know, pick whichever one you want, but you always have an option. In the other group they were told you pick one the other one is being shipped off to Europe, you know, to our sister campus, it will never be here again. This is a final choice. Whatever you do, you’re stuck with forever. Right then you have to make this decision now to your reaction shows how we feel about what class we feel like we would want to be in right if given the choice. Most of us think we would be happy We’re in the first scenario of being able to change our mind. And what the research shows, is those people were actually a lot less happy with the image that they picked this ability to lament and look back at what could have been, when we have the option will make us feel worse about what we have. Whereas our brains are really good at helping to show us why the thing we have is the best thing if we don’t have an option for anything else. And so those people who were in that second treatment where they had no option, really loved their image, they liked it much better than those who have the option to change and have another choice. So understanding this paradox of choice, it feels like we want to give people all the choices in the world and have all the freedom to decide and always be able to go back. And they may say that’s what they want. But that’s new studies show they’re not actually happier in that way. So finding a balance of the way we present that information and making it so it’s not harsh to say this is it and you better like it, or that’s not good either. But having that balance is really important in the way that we can be presenting things to people that will make them happier, even if it’s not what they think would make them happier.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 11:19
Boy, this sounds complicated, like if we don’t know exactly what we want. And if we head down the wrong path, we’re actually going to become more discontented. So at a time when teachers are overwhelmed and the kids in the classroom are super stressed out. And there’s a shortage of teachers, which adds more pressures. How might we begin to unpack what teachers need or want?
Melina Palmer 11:44
Well, the thing to note is that we are able to change our perspective and help our brains to focus on something else. So with those 35,000 decisions every single day, again, like I said, a lot of it is done through subconscious processing. And our conscious brain only focuses on a select few things. The research has shown that the subconscious brain is evaluating 11 million bits of information per second, compared to our conscious brain, which can do about 40 11 million to 40 is a pretty terrible ratio. Even if it was 40,000. It’s still not great. Yeah, right. Yes. And so something to note in there is that for every one piece of information that gets through your filter, because our brains have a focusing illusion, we have confirmation bias, we’re looking to prove ourselves, right, because our brains like to show how smart they are to ourselves all the time. For every one piece of information your brain lit through because it fit your filter or frame 275,000 Other things didn’t make it through. So an example here would be for everyone who has the answer when someone asks, How are you doing? Hey, how’s it going? If your go to response is busy, which is something a lot of people say, How are things Oh, my gosh, I’m so busy. You’ve you’re conditioning your brain to look for things to prove itself, right to show how busy and stressed and overcommitted you are. And it’s gonna be looking for the most extreme examples to keep proving that to yourself over and over and over again, if you are looking at little, the kids are going crazy in there, and there’s so much stress and all this is happening. Ah, you’ll just keep living in that over and over again. So finding a new response that you can be giving, you know, what does chatty kids is actually showing that they’re engaged? Or that they’re interested? Right? Asking questions doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s a positive thing, because it means that they’re interested that they want to know more. And yes, it would be nice if we could just get through the curriculum. But why are we here? Again, you know, what is it that we’re trying to accomplish? And how valuable is it, that they care enough to ask a question when that can actually be really difficult for them, changing that and then on the side of, you know, with your co workers or whatnot, or if you’re creating, if you were on the administrative administrative side of the school, and helping to create a good environment for your teachers? Where can you help to take repetitive items, and make it to be more consistent to take a little bit off the plates of the teachers so that they don’t have so much that they’re having to be reinventing the wheel every single time, all of the time? Where are there templates that can be put into place? Where is there a place for a repository of information that everybody’s able to go to when they’re creating curriculum that might help one of the other teachers? Where is the camaraderie and conversation able to happen so that they can be supporting each other and making everything a little bit easier, alleviating some of that extra work can make it so they can focus on the things that really matter, and can be more intrinsically motivating for them, and helping to support the students
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 15:14
to those sounds really doable. I love it.
Melina Palmer 15:19
Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t have to be big, crazy stuff that we’re putting into play here, right, like huge, expensive things. It’s more, taking a moment to look for opportunities where we can combine resources and make things easier on everyone and remind them that they matter. You know, at the at the end of the day, people leave, because they have bad managers, from businesses, you know, that end would be the same in in academia and teaching that if and the pay is, people aren’t teachers for the pay. Right? Right. We know. And so there’s some reason that they got into this something they wanted to do and accomplish. And if you’re able to help them see a little bit of that, maybe, ideally, every day, write a little glimmer of why they’re still here, and they’re getting that little bit of extra value add, maybe it’s once a week, you know, if we can’t quite get to every single day. But you know, where are you asking students the right question for them to talk about their favorite teacher or a moment of the week that was so valuable, and how their their teacher helps them to learn something that they thought they were never going to be able to do, right? Those moments that help the teacher to feel valued, can be enough to make a real difference for them to feel like it’s going to get them to the tomorrow. And then the next day and the next day. And again, things that don’t have to cost a lot of money, but can make a big difference. And for everyone who has their go to have being busy. Come up with a new word, a new term, what you this is the fake it till you make it. Find a space, pick the word of what you want to be, and just start using that as your default. Anything is better than busy. Yes,
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:15
Melina Palmer 17:16
Even productive is better.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:18
isn’t as crazy making, right? Agreed? Yeah. So part one, you have your book, you do talk, you talk about brain and relationship. And you’re starting to talk to us about the importance of making sure people feel valued. And we have these pauses and and that we’re meeting their needs. What else from part one, do you think is particularly applicable to our teachers being supported?
Melina Palmer 17:45
Well, so like you said, part one is about the brain about change and being what it means to be a good manager, or a great manager in that case. And I have there two chapters that close out part one, the first is change is all about you. And it has nothing to do with you. And I know that my my publisher is saying like you really want to start a chapter with and said yes, I do. Like like go together very intentionally there. But in this way, it can feel who you know, if we look at this concept of framing, which is a really big one in behavioral science, one of my favorites, which is how you say something matters more than what you say that’s in that same busy frame, we can come up with a new frame, if you were gonna go buy some ground beef, and you see two stacks, one’s labeled as 90%. Fat free, the one next to it is 10% fat. Which one do you want. Most everybody says they want the 90% fat free even though we know it’s the same. So how we say something how we communicate, makes a really big difference. So this can be something that can feel daunting or overwhelming, if you allow it to to say oh my gosh, there are so many ways I could think about applying this and there’s so many things to be doing. It’s too much, I’m not ready for that. And that might be a sign that there’s some pressure and stress that we need to alleviate, which as we get into part two, there’s a whole section called calming the elephant, which is based on an analogy of how we think about our brains. But reducing stress is really important. So but there’s a lot of value to in thinking about how empowering it is to know that you can change the way you respond to anything. You can change the way you are presenting information making it so it’s easier for other people to be more receptive to whatever you’re doing. Just you can do anything you can you can change however you want. And you can shape your own reality in a really amazing way without having to make really big changes. So that’s in the changes all about you and how you’re able to present information really are, I think, an awesome thing to be able to take that control All, in the end, it has nothing to do with you is that again, getting into that gold platinum rule, knowing that it’s not about how you want to hear things, it’s not about what would matter to you, you really need to become more attentive and focused on what’s going to matter to the other person. And to truly listen to them to be willing to take their input. And know that it’s, it’s all about what they need to be able to support them to have a better outcome.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 20:33
Love it. Yeah. And I love that you also chose to start your chapter with, and
Melina Palmer 20:43
I have many I write, I use a lot of em dashes, and ellipses and parentheses in a way that they’re scaled back even in the when it comes to books versus if I’m writing blog posts or things like that. But I really strive for books to have a conversational tone. And I take a lot of intentional thoughtful pauses in the way that I present information, then chunking information and whatnot. And I want the reader to be able to get the points that are being stressed for various reasons. So I take a lot of liberties with the written word, because I think it helps people and I’ve had many people say, you know that they’ve listened to the podcast for years and then read, you know, one of my books, say, I can hear you talking through the page, which I think is a really big compliment.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:39
Absolutely. I remember feeling that with your first book, just like, okay, Molina is just unpacking this for me, it did not feel like college textbook. It, you know, it really felt like, oh, we could be sitting over coffee. It was great.
Melina Palmer 21:54
Yeah. And though I’m pleased to say that I know, there are many, you know, courses and professors that are using my books for their master’s level cognitive courses, and whatever else are and doctoral students that that have been assigned to read or listen to the show. So it doesn’t have to be boring, to be valuable. Let’s change that. In all of teaching and everything. I’m a big proponent of that. And actually, if it’s boring, it’s probably a lot less valuable than it could be if you were to make it more interesting for people.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:31
Of course, yeah. How about part two? implementing change? What are there some key things that we shouldn’t be tuning into an education?
Melina Palmer 22:42
Yeah, so part two is all about the biases and heuristics that the brain is using to accomplish those 35,000 decisions. Right. So it starts with, so the chapters are broken into kind of common statements that you would hear, in this case at work, but they definitely apply in schools as well. Like you would have someone say, well, he always gets A’s just do what he does, or three hours, we can do it in two. And then you have the I’m not biased, is the first chapter there as something that people say. And people may say that it’s their goal to have a completely unbiased, workplace, a completely unbiased group of teachers. And the thing that’s really important to know is, that is not possible. Our brains run on bias, it’s how we’re able to live and survive, we are not going to remove bias from our life, it won’t happen. What we can do is by understanding those rules and biases that the brain is using to make decisions, we can find out which ones we do want to try to put in some effort to sidestep and how we can be leveraging others to help get the best outcome and make it so change is going to be easier for people. So throughout part two, it’s a mix of these sorts of common scenarios and then explaining different brain biases and rules of thumb that the brain would be using that we can then understand, to see how we can flip them a little bit to use them to our advantage. And to like I said, leverage them instead of having them be big roadblocks in our way that we feel like we’re just stuck with they it doesn’t have to be that way.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:36
Nice. I like that. Just that awareness and then the choice I want to amplify or I want to sidestep as you said that that awareness piece I keep hearing that theme in what you’re sharing if we can just know our brain and become more aware we we have an opportunity to reframe and to make life better.
Melina Palmer 24:58
And the book has As you know, so part three gets into a frank my framework for change. And so you know, we’re building as we go. And it is something that would be an investment, it’s an investment in yourself, it’s an investment in your teams, to be doing everything that’s talked about in the book, there’s a lot of thoughtfulness that needs to go into play. And it may be for a bit of a long term outcome. In some cases, you’ll start to see things right away. But we’re investing for, for a long period of time in our lives, right to be able to have this benefit. So what I sprinkled throughout the book are what I call MicroShift moments, the little thing that you can do right now, and know that it can have a big immediate impact. So you get that little win and want to keep going kind of like the advice I was giving before, about helping those teachers to have a little something that makes you want to keep going one of the MicroShift moments is that busy reframe, you know, how are you busy, right? That’s something you can go do right now. But you only want to change, you know, one thing? And maybe does that for a full week of being able to, to answer because you have to be able to do it enough that it becomes your go to rule. And you think you know, you’ve been having your brain have this busy response for years, probably how many times have you said that, so you’re now conditioned? How are you busy. So it’ll take a little bit of conscious processing to force yourself to make that change over time. And then you can start to be looking for things to support whatever your new word is, if it’s grateful, or like I said, productive even. And then you’re looking for things to be able to prove that to yourself over and over again. And once that becomes kind of second nature, then you can look at something else that you want to be able to focus on. And those MicroShift moments give you little wins, as you’re making bigger progress to help it feel really more tangible.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:01
That makes sense. And I think sometimes we read a book quickly, and we’re gonna apply these eight or nine concepts while they’re fresh in our mind. And then nothing. It’s like New Year’s resolutions that nothing on that list happens. Yes, the micro moment piece, have you thought about having something where we get a weekly update, move on to your next micro moment to help us pace ourselves because I feel like we’re kind of one and done. And on to the next thing and perhaps a little bit of that squirrel squirrel. And that what you’re talking about here is ongoing consciousness and developing some muscles in terms of being more aware,
Melina Palmer 27:42
yeah, I, I have a weekly newsletter. And so with the weekly podcast episodes, and you know, things coming out, and so, I’ve I’ve looked at something but I I really like what you’re suggesting there of being able to have maybe the, you know, MicroShift of the week, sort of thing that gets into that newsletter of something we’re all going to be doing together, I have a community called the Be thoughtful revolution, that’s a space where we’re able to have good conversation of people that have found, you know, behavioral economics and are interested in what other people that they can relate to from around the world, just a free space where everyone’s able to connect. And so I think having that MicroShift of the of the week could be that’d be could be a really good place to have it there.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:31
Love that. I want to understand our bias for status quo. In terms of I mean, you talk about that in your first book. And in in in your second book, we saw so many things, the pandemic was a spotlight on the institution of education and a lot of things that weren’t working children’s mental health concerns. And yet, I feel like this bias for status quo is keeping us from saying, Gosh, we have to make some changes in schools. Is there a connection there?
Melina Palmer 29:07
Of course, yeah, like I said, the your brain is making decisions based on predictability and what has worked in the past. And that subconscious wants to be able to hold on as many decisions as it can. Because the conscious brain is is slower and it takes a long time I talked about this as if you think about a gatekeeper receptionist, if you’re trying to get a meeting with a busy executive, the receptionist is efficient and has the everything down Got it, got it, got it know how to do this got this, she won’t like that. Don’t need this. Don’t do that. You know, they got it. And each time they have to go bug, the boss, it’s going to really affect their own ability to be productive and be getting stuff done as they’re waiting for that boss to make a decision. So the subconscious receptionist wants to hold on to as much as it can to be able to keep things running efficiently. That’s Where the status quo is something that helps us to feel really safe the way we’ve always done things, this bias of familiarity and what works for us. So all of these reactions that we have are really that brain trying to hold on to stuff that it knows. And it doesn’t mean that the change in the new state is actually worse. In many cases, it’s better, but in the way that information is presented to us, especially if it reminds us of what we’re giving up. We really don’t like the new place of where we have to go. So in this way, you know, you think about the will say, principle or something is to come in and say, Hey, everybody, I know you’re not gonna like this, but we have to make this big change, everyone’s gonna have to whatever, move to the other side of the move your classroom to the other side of the building, or whatever else, you have to start using this other system. And I know you’re gonna not going to like it. But you know, don’t shoot the messenger here. I just need you to get on board because we have to do this
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:06
not going to be well received.
Melina Palmer 31:08
Yes, right. Right. No matter what we’re communicating, you’ve made us really think, Okay, this is bad, I hate this. Everyone else hates this, I should too. And even if it’s something that we might have liked, the idea of, it could have been something really great to move to a new art, we’ll use the example of using a new software something right, so we’re moving. So in that case, I might have liked it, because I hate the existing software. But how that was presented, you know, we’re a herding species. So we look around at everybody else and say, Okay, I guess we hate this. We don’t we don’t like this idea. I should hate it. Right? We’re gonna go with the group in this case. If instead that was presented by saying, Hey, everybody, I know I’ve heard over the years, most all of you complain at some point about our existing software, knowing it’s really cumbersome, files get lost, it can be difficult to use, it’s hard to communicate with your students and with their parents. And we’ve heard you great news, there’s this new system that’s going to be coming that is going to alleviate all of those problems. For anyone who wants to be a part of helping to shape the new software, we’ve got 30 days to have you be part of that project. If you’re interested, we’d love to have your feedback to help make sure this is as valuable for all of you as it possibly can be. We’re so excited about this new step. And you know, Thanks for always providing feedback to help us make your jobs as easy as we can. Night and day. Yes, same exact change, same exact software, the way it’s presented makes all the difference. And that’s in my framework for change is the same one I use for pricing, it’s called it’s not about the cookie. So pricing isn’t about price change isn’t about the change, the way it’s presented makes all the difference in my framework has, you know, steps of various concepts to keep in mind, knowing these biases we want to avoid. And again, the status quo, we don’t remind of what we’re giving up if it’s definitely going away. Because that’s not going to be helpful in the long run. But the way we feel like because we’re loss averse, right, we think that people are going to really care. So we want to say I get you I understand I’m empathizing. But that empathy in the way that we think we would want to be communicated to, and how they probably would, is actually making the problem worse, like I was talking about earlier with the photos and anything else. So this is where understanding these concepts of behavioral economics can make it. So you can help be a better communicator, without having to, you know, worry about asking, you should still ask people what they want in many cases, but to know that the way you present information can make it so people are naturally more responsive to change, instead of being resistant to it, and have a better sort of Outlook and frame on everything that they’re doing.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:56
That sounds like it would be super valuable not just for school leaders, but for teachers, encouraging students to take on a project for parents at home for, of course, for your target, employers, your audience, but I can just see, my brain is just sparking with the many ways that how we frame it and how we know about the brain, how it can really help us shift where education is where it’s going, the amount of buy in. This is so valuable. I really encourage listeners to run out and grab your book and your first one. And also your podcast is is so fun, just taking walks and listening to you and your guests. So tons of resources. And I’d love to pivot just for a second and do a few turbo time questions with you. Sure. It’s just fun to get to know the speaker behind the new book and behavioral economics. So Melina, what’s the last book you read?
Melina Palmer 35:00
The last book I’ve read, and now I have to pull. So I was actually just interviewing these guests for my show. And it is called solving modern problems with a stone age mind. Ooh, very interesting look at taking in insights from anthropology and evolutionary how we have evolved, our society has evolved around us where we, you know, brain wise can’t and how that impacts the decisions we make really interesting book. So yeah,
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:31
nice. How about two inspirational folks in history in literature in real time, that you’d love to meet?
Melina Palmer 35:40
Einstein is always at the top of my list there. I think someone who’s is just really, really interesting. And in a potentially, this is someone who’s still alive, but I would say, history of things. Paul McCartney, I think is very, very interesting in his approach to problems and knowing that Paul McCartney can’t read music. So knowing that Paul McCartney can’t read music, but has created some of the most iconic music of our time is something that I think is really fascinating. When you look at problem solving and things there
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:18
was total non sequitur I just heard something about he was on social media doing a handstand or a handstand showing off, it’s like, he just never stops.
Melina Palmer 36:30
I love I love Paul McCartney, I love the Beatles. And by feel Paul is was the best of the
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:40
How about your favorite place to travel?
Melina Palmer 36:43
My favorite place I’d say is Rome. I lived there in college for about three months, and it’s my my home on another continent, I would say I really love it there.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:53
Mm hmm. Biggest thing you wish folks knew about interpersonal communication,
Melina Palmer 37:00
that change doesn’t have to be hard, you know, change can actually be very easy if we understand the rules of the brain and can just present information in a different way.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:11
Nice, a pet peeve of yours
Melina Palmer 37:17
will go with the oh, I’ll say this. One is when emails, have the please excuse any typos. wrote this from my phone, sort of thing. This is one of the other MicroShift moments in the book. While I know nothing against someone who has that as theirs, but this is an opportunity to update. Because really, the message that’s conveying to people is Hi, I’m far too busy and important to proofread my email before I send it to you. That’s your job to do a better job about this. Totally not what you’re trying to say. But the brain could hear it that way. So that’s another MicroShift moment, if you have that on auto responder from your phone, I highly recommend updating it with, you know, potentially nothing but some other positive message to help reinforce your new frame.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:09
What’s a passion that you bring to behavioral studies?
Melina Palmer 38:12
I think for me, it’s really about taking the field out of academia and into application. So making it fun making it interesting, making it usable and valuable for people is is a real focus for me that there are plenty of people doing that in the field as well. But in a way that that I think is still a little bit different than what you get in what you would expect to be a typical sort of boring lecture on behavioral economics.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:44
Love it. And I think you are a brilliant role model for that. Your show notes I modeled my podcast after you had so much data for the the nerd that wants to munch on the data. I loved all of the links of the references to make it easy to get to those. But the podcast itself is so conversational, just enjoying it at that level was powerful. So I think you are modeling that we can be loaded with data and resources and links and still present something that doesn’t feel like a doctoral seminar full of all kinds of words that I have to grab my dictionary for. So thank you for having a high bar and conversational and showing us we can do that.
Melina Palmer 39:29
Yeah, that’s the bringing it back to Einstein. They’re saying if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it well enough. The simplicity is something that is and I think I actually quote from Steve Jobs and book to something in the Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. I think Coco Chanel said something similar, right? That making it simple. Making it short, is actually a sign of more intelligence and thoughtfulness and knowledge when you can make it bite size so Oh, there’s a when you feel like you have to use all the biggest possible words, you know, take a moment to recenter and make things more simple. It actually makes you look more knowledgeable. Love it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 40:13
Yeah. Final turbo time. What is something most folks don’t know about you? Ah,
Melina Palmer 40:19
I feel like this is my go to. So perhaps people do know that I’m a classically trained opera singer, which is something that comes up in the podcast chat, I guess a lot from from voice work and mic work. So it would be that and for anyone who did know that already, I’d say a lot of people don’t actually know that I’m Alaskan native. I don’t talk about that enough. There’s something that I do want to talk about more slime Trinket and Tsimshian. So there you go. Very, very interesting.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 40:48
Melina, thank you, I like to close with a magic wand moment. So handing you over the education evolution magic one, using this lens of behavioral economics, what would you wish for your children who are in various stages of schooling? What would you wish? With your magic wand wish?
Melina Palmer 41:11
I wish that school would have less of a focus on finding the perfect answer, and having more of a focus on powerful questioning, and the value that comes with looking deeper and having curiosity instead of always saying, you know, a has an answer, which is always be and trying to have that perfection. But looking for curiosity, and questioning and valuing that in our society, that would be my wish.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 41:40
Love it. And it seems to me that you have a book that you’ve read a book and mentioned a book before. Could you tell us the book that unpacks this concept?
Melina Palmer 41:51
Of course, yeah. So it’s a more beautiful question by Warren Berger. And he actually has two additional books that he has written, the second being the book of beautiful questions. And the third is beautiful questions in the classroom. So very specifically, on helping teachers to be able to use the power of questioning with their students. So highly, highly recommend
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 42:14
that. Melina as always, it is just, it’s informative, and super fun getting to connect with you. Thank you for being our guest, and congratulations on your new book.
Melina Palmer 42:26
Thank you. I really appreciate you having me on. And like I said, it’s always a joy to talk with you. So thanks so much.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 42:42
Melina is the real deal. She’s a lifelong learner on an important mission to help us use what we know about how our brains work, so we can be happier and more productive. Who doesn’t want that? One takeaway I have personally, is to make one MicroShift per week, friends will tell you that my brain loves to speed ahead. But I would really like to take Molina’s content, and apply it to how I serve my family and school, and also increase my gratitude and contentment. One MicroShift at a time. I remember being floored when I originally heard her statistics of how much is going on in our subconscious, that it has a 11 million bits processing per second, compared to the 40 bits consciously being processed. This data impacted me enough and I’m not a numbers person, but it had enough of an impact for me to include it in my TEDx talk. We have to understand what is going on subconsciously, in terms of bias, familiarity, hurting instinct, and other key ways that our brain operates. We will get educational change when we can address this receptionist, working at the subconscious level, who is a huge gatekeeper for how we act and how schools can get changed. Educational evolution that empowers teachers to own the learning in their classrooms, and invite students to pursue passions and purpose and learning their way on their journey. These will result from this understanding what subconsciously might be standing in our way. I highly recommend that you add Melina to your podcast listens, and check out both her first and this brand new book who doesn’t want to understand and add more happiness into their lives and the world. As always, thank you for being a part of the education evolution
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 45:08
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me how much schools were able to get done with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your own school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit educationevolution.org/consult for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together. Thanks again for listening. To support the education evolution. Subscribe so it lands in your podcast app and gets out to more decision makers. Then rate and review it. For more information in shownotes go to educationevolution.org education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We are in this together and we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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