Reflexivity: How to Learn from your Daily Life in order to Grow


Discover one of the topics we explore in Learning Boost: reflexivity and how learners can use it.


In this article, we want to talk to you about a topic we cover in our Learning Boost program: reflexivity. This platform helps you develop your skills, learn from your daily experiences and increase your learning agility on the job. 

Las Meninas, Diego Velázquez

You wonder what you or Learn Assembly have anything to do with a painting from Diego Velázquez? This picture of the Meninas with the painter in front of the web, looking at his work, represents reflexivity. No, reflexivity is not spending your day admiring yourself in the mirror. It’s the ability to take a step back from your actions and ways of thinking. 

What Does Reflexivity Mean? 

Have you ever experienced a moment of closing discussion at the end of a workshop for example? It’s a common practice often used when finishing a meeting or a seminar. It’s when the facilitator asks the participants what they learned during the session, how they’re going to use this knowledge and how they feel. This dedicated space helps everyone speak freely and think about their contribution and personal gain. This practice is actually a reflexivity exercise.

Reflexivity is defined as “the fact of someone being able to examine his or her own feelings, reactions, and motives (= reasons for acting) and how these influence what he or she does or thinks in a situation” (Cambridge Dictionary).

You might wonder how reflexivity can help you in your everyday life at work. First of all, it helps you put into words what you feel. Moreover, it is a tool to improve collaboration with colleagues. Indeed, practicing reflexivity also means listening better to your teammates and asking them what they learn from their own experiences.  

Learning on the job to take some distance from your actions and analyze them to understand what you can improve: that’s the beginning of reflexivity.

A Challenge to Develop your Reflexivity

1 week, 5 business days, 8-10 meetings in total. According to a study led by Barco and Circle Research, office employees participate on average in 10 meetings of 48 minutes per week. This is one full day of work spent in meeting rooms. It looks like a lot but it can be a very productive time during which we often take notes.  

A way to be even more efficient is to review your notes. How many times a week have you done this? It’s quite easy to leave them in the corner of your desk or in a lost file in your computer. However, reviewing them and analyzing what you can learn from them is a fine proof of reflexivity. It will help you in your learning process. 

This is why we recommend the following challenge: 

  • Go look for the notes you took at one meeting this week and focus on one page.
  • After having read it, ask yourself what was important on this page. Have you had the occasion to implement something since? If not, identify today one action you could put in place that could be of use.
  • Analyze what is your reaction on the subject after having taken some distance.

During meetings, it is easy to set many objectives within an ambitious timeframe. But when everybody is in the thick of things, the decisions that are made are not always the good or most suited ones. Therefore, it’s a good practice to give yourself a few days to let the information sink in, and then review your notes before taking action. 

Reflexivity within Companies

The learning company is a good example of reflexivity at the structural level of an organization. As explained in this Harvard Business Review article, “a learning company is much more than a structure that promotes its employees’ learning, it’s an organization that learns and adapts itself”. In this case, it is not thought as a way for everyone to learn, but as a permanent movement that always evolves to adapt to its environment. Here, the way of perceiving the company is reflexive in itself.

To know more about Learning Boost and discover more contents like this one, you can fill out our survey to measure your learning agility and create your individual learner’s profile. It will indicate your strengths and areas of improvement.

Learn Assembly is a learning company which mission is to help organizations develop their employees’ employability, in a sound and sustainable manner. As an architect and a builder of learning experiences, we help you gain height and get your hands dirty at the same time to make your projects successful.

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