Generally speaking, there are THREE main ways information comes in, meetings are managed, and projects are discussed.
We all use all three, and, using them more only makes things easier, better and bigger. By understanding more about HOW people work, it is easier to encourage them to do what they do effectively, productively and efficiently.
Every person can facilitate workflow and workplace performance by understanding the three ways in which everyone works. When you study the “form” and “function” of these learning styles, you will be able to use them to your advantage, and your work, your team, your department, and even your company (!) will benefit. Since beginning to study education, performance and leadership in 1993, I have found much success in modeling the way people learn in the way that I coach and teach.
We ALL use ALL three learning/working styles, and by identifying the ones that make it EASIER for you to engage, you will get more done, faster. The more I learn about this (my first teacher was Howard Gardner, out of Harvard), the more I recognize the absolute significance of changing it up, approaching it from different angles, of making it easier to consume.
What is the “it” that I’m talking about? I'm talkin' about getting the right things done…
When we work to our strengths, we can run further toward and closer to an expanding comfort zone of increased awareness and productivity. This was proven to me as I continue watching the www.TED.com talks; recognizing over and over again that the people who ARE changing things for the better are the ones who have two significant strengths:
1. An ability to see, hear or/and experience what’s going on…
2. …with the ability to think deeply about how it could possibly be a little different.
So, those working/learning styles:
I GOTTA GET IT:
I knew I was a kinesthetic learner as soon as I started to understand this aptitude. When I do something, when I build a model, if I “role play” some situation, it goes in in a way that stays. When I was learning triathlon, it wasn’t enough to read about the sport, or simply watch the training videos. I had to practice – over and over again – the same moves that I would make during the race.
Likewise, when I decided to “become” a writer, I set myself up with gear, tools, and systems to get engaged. For example, often – when I’m assigned an article from a magazine editor – I will purchase a new notebook, and even a couple of pens. There is SOMEthing about holding something new that gets me thinking in new and bigger and different ways.
OH, I HEAR YOU:
Think about what happens when you’re on the phone with someone, or in a meeting, and they tell you something you think you should remember later on. If you have strong auditory skills, you’ll hear something once and it will go in and stay. On the other hand, if you know that just listening to something isn’t enough to remember it later on, you may be a bit weaker in that “skill.” Personally, I know that I’m not extremely strong in the auditory set.
For example, it doesn’t matter HOW many times I listen to a song, I just won’t learn/remember all the words. However, if I listen to the song, press pause a bunch of times, and write the words, I will get it, know them, and be able to sing along. Imagine now I’m attending a meeting: I don’t rely on remembering what someone said. I’m the guy who will take a picture of the flip chart (visual) or re-write the notes (kinesthetic) in my notebook.
I SEE WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT:
Ok, and finally, the visual strength. People who I work with and around who are strong here are the ones that “see it before it’s able to be seen.” In a meeting, when they understand something, they will often say something like, “Ohhhh, I see what you’re talking about.”
Alternatively, if you’re talking with a visual worker/learner on the phone and they don’t know what you’re discussing they will say something like, “I’m sorry. I just can’t picture it in my mind. I need you to show me what you mean.” Over the years, I have used an understanding of these three learning styles to my advantage.
I have written books that have folding pages , I have recorded audio presentations and I have posted many of my presentations - all so clients have multiple ways of engaging in this work. When you think about what you need to get done during the week, remember to engage in three different ways. You’ll stay focused, and the people around you will find it easier to continue working toward completion if you mix up the messaging to address their different learning styles and needs.
What do you do, to mix it up? I’d love to hear all about it!