by Pamala J. Vincent
Ever sit in a business meeting and drift away? Impressed by a friend who can recall facts like they’re a recording system? Frustrated when you can’t remember important information?
You’re not stupid or lazy. Understanding how people take in information and recall it is vital to your businesses success. You’re probably working in an environment that is not conducive to your style of learning.
Most adults have never heard of learning styles and are unaware that understanding their own makes a huge difference in how they retain and retrieve information. For years, educators have created lessons plans based on the learning styles within their classrooms. Why we think these styles cease to exist in adults is counter-productive to working at your best.
There are four basic learning styles: Auditory, Visual, Verbal and Kinesthetic (tactile).
Auditory learners: retain information through hearing:
Strengths: They can recall verbally given information exactly months/years later
Weakness: Reading material without discussion creates a low retention rate.
Visual Learners: retain information through sight:
- Power points
Strengths: They can recall things they see with great accuracy.
Weakness: Lecture shared information without visual support creates a low retention rate.
Verbal Learners: retain information through talking (they need to talk):
- Asking questions
Strengths: If allowed to talk, they can get a group discussion heading in a productive direction. They are excellent brain-stormers.
Weakness: Information does not become real until they’ve said it. They think outside of themselves, which means they’ll have a wide variety of ideas they are thinking about making them look as if they’re jumping from topic to topic often overwhelming those who aren’t verbal.
Kinesthetic Learners: retain information by doing and experiencing:
- Tactually doing/experiencing
- Physically involved in the process
Strengths: They are generally fit, high-energy people who can physically put an idea into production.
Weakness: They are rarely strong in the board room with concepts they cannot handle tactilely.
Individuals are predominantly one style and secondarily another style. The dominant style will be a person’s first method of relating to information and storage system. The secondary style works to fill in the gaps of the dominant style. For instance, a person may be an auditory-verbal communicator; which means they have a need to hear the information and talk about it for it to be stored in long term memory.
A visual-kinesthetic learner can take a picture of something and recreate it as a product.
The adage, ‘being like-minded’ still applies today for setting goals. However, if your business is one that must go from concept to product, the key to creating a strong team will be to have a variety of learning styles together. What one person may read and research about, you’ll need someone else to create visually, someone to actually build it and others to train everyone how to duplicate the process.
Teaming up the right individuals is also key to success. A room full of verbal people will never progress beyond the brainstorming process. We’ve all seen businesses with a great idea man that can’t get the idea off the drawing board.
There are some simple things you can do to help determine what style of learning is a person’s strength.
Here are a few:
1. If I told you I’d pay you $1000 if you can return tomorrow with the Getty’s Burg address memorized, what would you do?
- Would you say it aloud over and over? (Verbal)
- Would you put it to song? (Auditory)
- Would you write it over and over? (Visual)
- Would you put motions to it? (Kinesthetic)
2. Give a person verbal directions to somewhere unique (a drycleaner blocks from the office) that’s somewhat complicated. Watch what they do to remember it.
- Write the directions down. (Auditory)
- Repeat the directions to you. (Verbal)
- Plug it into a GPS. (Kinesthetic)
- Draw a map (Visual)
Understanding your own style of learning will help define why some of your people excel and others don’t. Try adjusting how materials are presented or better yet, embrace all four learning styles in the presentation. Then clearly defining your expectations of each individual will utilize their skills to your best.
Businesses that learn to embrace natural IQ, personality types and learning styles are the ones who excel at people skills and team building. Ultimately they are the entrepreneurs that will be around long beyond the death rate of start-up businesses.
Pam is a freelance writer passionate about family and equipping others to personal success. Her online magazine, The Modern Woman is written for women, but works hard to equip parents and entrepreneurs to be their own boss of: schedules, influence and income levels. You can find her at www.pamalajvincent.com, Facebook and Twitter.