5 Reasons why learning from our peers really works

mindset networks & collaborations personal effectiveness
5 Reasons why learning from our peers really works

I’ve known intuitively for a long time that learning from our peers is a highly effective form of learning. I try very hard to create spaces at our events and in our training programmes for people to hear from other people like themselves in order to advance their learning. In an average 3 hour training workshop, for example, we will aim to fill 1.5 hours maximum with training content. The rest of the time is carefully structured to allow participants to engage with each other, talk, listen and share.

I know from feedback from our conference delegates, training participants, one-to-one clients and The Huddle that the most impactful learning and the most memorable lessons have not come from me or any other ‘expert’, but from their peers.


Image: Mary Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald's Woodlands House Hotel Adare tells and teaches
her story at The Tourism Space LIVE 2020.


Here are my observations of The Top 5 reasons learning from our peers really works.

1. Language

Our peers use the same language as us and that means we absorb it much more readily. There’s no academic or training parlance. It’s language that makes instant sense to the audience. As an example, I once introduced a guest by saying she would talk about ‘search engine optimisation’. She started by saying she would be talking about ‘how to get found high up on Google.’ See the difference?


2. Story-telling

Without frameworks, theories and scientific studies, industry practitioners lead out with stories, usually personal stories, to share what they have learned. Stories engage us emotionally and invite us into the world of the person speaking. Because the world of the teacher and the learner are very similar in peer-to-peer environments, that engagement is much higher.


3. Freshness

When a practitioner takes the time to think about how they can teach their story, rather than just tell it, the insights are often new even to themselves. They are so fresh that they are delivered with an added spark and energy that is absent from somebody who hasn’t lived the same experience.


4. Identification

Practitioners readily identify with each other – they are in the same place at the same time and there are few psychological barriers to asking questions or offering comment. That’s entirely different to our traditional classroom environment where the person at the top of the room is deemed to have authority based on their superior knowledge or skill.


5. Credibility

The most obvious one of all. No practitioner will ever be accused of being removed from reality, being a consultant in a suit or sitting comfortably in their ivory tower. They are present and speaking because they have walked the talk and learned a lesson or two from it. Our often subconscious objection to their right to tell us what to do evaporates.


6. Reassurance

Many of us feel lonely and isolated in our positions. Getting to hear and understand the stories of others like ourselves reduces that sense of being on your own. In so doing, it provides reassurance that you’re not the first person to tread your path and that you can tap into the experience of others who have travelled the way before you.


It’s for all these reasons that being part of a strong network or a mastermind group can be so important. They are powerful spaces for peer-to-peer learning. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of networks and here's hoping that value on peer connections continues to strengthen into the future.

Tina O'Dwyer

Tina is a Certified High Performance Coach specialising in tourism. She has extensive experience in sustainable tourism, regenerative tourism, food tourism, networks, clusters and collaborations. For training programme or coaching services you can get in touch at [email protected].

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