Become even more incredible by knowing how to add to your awesome through learning.
People learn and communicate in many different ways. In fact, each person learns in a way that is unique to them. It is, however, useful to broadly categorize the senses we engage during the learning process so that we can best leverage the strengths and capabilities at our disposal. Knowing which one you prefer allows you to ask for information in a specific way, or study a subject in a way that makes learning rapid and easy.
The learning styles can roughly be mapped to the senses. Visual, auditory and kinesthetic (tactile, or touch) styles are most common, but two additional dimensions can be considered that aren’t often included in the standard set of learning styles. These are logical and social/emotional. Getting a firm understanding of your own preference is easy if you have a good definition of each to help you along.
Visual Learners: They use visual media to help understand and internalize information. This can be in the form of videos, images, collaborative drawing, or other visuals. Visual learners also engage the mind’s eye to make sense of things. Their imagination may be primarily visual and include vivid and specific details. The mind’s eye often takes the place of a visual element when none is present.
To cultivate your visual learning style it might be useful to listen for visual cues in conversations to help draw the picture on paper or in your mind. Consider carrying a small notepad or a media device that allows you to draw. Use these things to help you bring yourself and others into the visual domain and increase your ability to learn and remember.
Auditory Learners: These people hear and remember. They quickly form an understanding between sounds and place the sounds in an auditory stage. The relationships between sounds and meaning and intent are all much clearer to an auditory learner.
To cultivate your auditory learning style, practice listening. Listen for relationships both cause and effect and correlations. Audiobooks and educational podcasts are a very effective way for the auditory listener to grab massive quantities of information in a rapid way.
Kinesthetic Learners: These people are touchie feelie – but not in the emotional way – in the physical sense of touch. They keep their minds active by keeping their bodies active. Many kinesthetic learners are mechanically inclined and rapidly learn the relationships between physical objects that they can touch.
To grow your kinesthetic learning style, simply get hands on. Where practical try to find environments where you can get your hands or body involved in the process of exploring information. Consider engaging your hands in note taking or in physical mnemonic devices to help stimulate retention and recall.
“Many studies on learning show that kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. Teachers and occupational therapists all over the country are using Thinking Putty as a way to get their learners “doing” while learning. By activating their large muscle groups in their hands and arms when playing with Thinking Putty, many people can better focus on assigned tasks. Once you pick up a handful of Thinking Putty, you instinctively start stretching, smooshing, and stretching. Since you don’t realize you’re doing it, it’s a great tool to use when focus is required.” ~ Amanda Cunningham from ThinkingPutty.com
Emotional/Social Learners: The emotional learners gather information through the engaged heart. This often occurs during heartwarming stories or through emotional appeals. For many emotional learners the process of integrating information occurs more effectively amidst a strong emotional response. Such emotive responses often emerge in a social interaction.
To grow you emotional learning capability consider reading biographies to bring stories to life, or look for news events that may be used to illustrate or punctuate the emotional impact of the information you are trying to integrate. Networking with others may also assist you in learning more about a subject as a social / emotional learner.
Logical Learners: The logical learners gather information systemically and integrate it in a way that fits together rationally. A logical learner may need to know the “how” and “why” before knowing the “what.” Logical learners tend to be objective in their worldview and do not resonate with knowledge or information communicated in an emotional way. They are not in opposition, per se, but in terms of preferences, logic prefers objective dialogue.
To best leverage your logical learning ability, consider looking for sequentially presented information. Logic is inherently linear, and so “skipping to the end” might not be the best approach. Consider reading text books or encyclopedic websites that present information in a structured and logical way consistently from topic to topic.
One of the key advantages of knowing your preferred learning style is that you can help others communicate better with you. Telling someone who is struggling to get their point across to draw you a picture, or tell you a story is a great way to ease the communications process and end frustration.
Conversely if you are presenting information to a large group of people it is important to make sure that your message is communicated across all of these learning styles to ensure maximum uptake. Also, changing gears to different learning styles naturally builds variety into your presentation and helps to keep your audience engaged.
Any way you look at it, the way you prefer to learn is important to your personal and business success. Knowing how to find information and synthesize it for your own use is a skill that few people understand, and even fewer master. The difference between you and your next opportunity might simply be a learning style away.