Labels are tough for me. I know that people are very complex and that we shouldn’t put them into a box. People learn and change and are shaped by experiences, books, other people, etc. Still, I do love having a way to organize people into nice, neat categories. In last month’s article, I even labeled myself as an introvert. The reason that label can be a little tricky is that sometimes I behave like an extrovert and the label just doesn’t work. However, if I have been acting like an extrovert, I was probably out of my comfort zone.
Here come the labels.
People often learn best when they receive the information in a particular way. These are known as learning styles, and most people are dominant in one style: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Why should you care about learning styles? Lots of reasons. On a personal level, knowing your own learning style can help you make great choices for your own learning. I am an auditory learner so I LOVE podcasts and audiobooks. I take in information best by listening and speaking. I work through problems by talking through them. For some of you, being aware of the various learning styles will also be helpful to you as you coach your customers and team members. And if you are presenting information to a group or helping your child with homework, understanding how people learn can be immensely helpful.
I already referenced the auditory learning style. Auditory learners will also learn visually and kinesthetically, but listening and speaking are how they best take in information. An auditory learner may prefer the phone over email (unless like me, he is also an introvert) or may talk or hum to herself. Sometimes an auditory learner will appear to not be paying attention. Confession: I play games on my iphone during church sometimes. I really am listening, but I don’t need to SEE the preacher to take in the information. I even “watch” TV without looking at it sometimes. As long as I am in earshot and there is enough dialogue, I can follow the plot.
Visual learners may also enjoy audiobooks, music, and podcasts, but they will learn best when they can SEE the information. I am convinced my husband is a visual learner. There is no way he can watch a movie the way I do. He needs to SEE it to know what’s happening. For the client or team members that learn visually, you may want to use drawings, pictures, charts, and graphs. Put information in writing so they can see it. They might not remember what you say. Don’t just tell them information, show it to them! Visual learners may want to take notes so that they can read them later. They will remember what a new acquaintance wore or what they looked like, but not necessarily his or her name (unless they saw it on a nametag!). A visual learner that is bored may find something to watch to keep them entertained. If you know you are talking to a visual learner, creating rich imagery with your words will help them visualize the material.
Kinesthetic learners also learn through sight and sound, but they really like to touch things and move around. These are the people that simply cannot talk without using many gestures. They would rather attend a workshop than a lecture. They may sit near the door so that they can get up and down when they can no longer stand being seated. Kinesthetic learners will remember the part of the presentation where something was passed around the room or they were able to get up and move around. They may use touch to communicate and appreciate a pat on the back.
So what now? Resist the urge to try and figure out what kind of learner each team member or client is. A google search about learning styles will yield numerous articles, assessments, and plenty of criticism as well. Just be aware that there are different learning styles and not everyone will learn the way you do. If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know why he doesn’t get it. I’ve told him a hundred times,” the problem may be with how the information is presented. Try a new approach before writing the guy off as a dud. Use a video or something in writing or even a picture. Experiment until you find what works. We are doing this with some of our clients now. We work with quite a few clients in other parts of the country and while email is great for some brief communications, it isn’t always the best way to explain something new or confusing. So we are changing things up with MailVu and Conceptboard to reach clients in a new ways. It’s a matter of trial and error and putting the client’s needs above our own.
Part of THRIVEal’s why is to provide deeper education for our members. We want you to LEARN. So we do our best to reach you no matter your learning style through the blog, videos, Community Calls, the THRIVEcast, and the Deeper Weekend where all learning styles will be considered. (Kinesthetic learners will love Design Thinking Day at Deeper Weekend.)
Tell us in the comments how you are sharing knowledge in creative ways with your clients and team members.