One of our most important job as leaders is to train and educate the members of our team. This is challenging because everyone learns differently. Today we’re going to talk about the seven different learning styles and how you can apply your understanding of them to help your team grow to their full potential.

The Seven Learning Styles

The first of the seven learning styles is visual learning. Visual learners have a preference for using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. They love to use whiteboards or other tools that let them explore their thoughts visually. You will hear them say things like, “Let’s look at it differently, I can’t quite picture it or Let’s draw a diagram or map.” Ways you can help visual learners are by Using color, layout, and spatial organization when talking with them, and using ‘visual words’ like see, picture, perspective, visual, and map.

Aural learners like to work with sound and music and have a good sense of pitch and rhythm. This can be helpful because music evokes strong emotions and aural learners can be tuned into the emotions of others. Aural learners often say things like “That sounds about right, That rings a bell or That’s music to my ears.” You can help aural learners by using sound, rhyme, and music when training them, Using sound recordings to provide a background and help them visualize and when creating mnemonics or acrostics, make the most of rhythm and rhyme, or set them to a jingle or part of a song.

Verbal learners find it easy to express themselves, both in writing and verbally. They enjoy playing on the meaning or sound of words, such as in tongue twisters, rhymes, limericks and the like. They know the meaning of many words, and regularly make an effort to find the meaning of new words. Phrases that verbal learners often say are, “Tell me word for word, The word you’re looking for is and Let me spell it out for you.” To reach verbal learners effectively, incorporate more speaking and writing in techniques. Encourage them to talk themselves through procedures or use recordings of content for repetition. Use rhyme and rhythm in your assertions where you can, and be sure to read important ones aloud. Mnemonics, acronyms and Scripting are powerful tools for verbal learners.

Physical learners use their body and sense of touch to learn about the world. They like sports and exercise, and other physical activities such as gardening or woodworking. Physical learners typically use larger hand gestures and other body language to communicate. They might use phrases like, “That feels right to me, That doesn’t sit right with me or My gut is telling me’”. To reach physical learners, Use physical objects as much as possible and Use role-playing to practice skills and behaviors.

Logical learners like using their brain for logical and mathematical reasoning. They recognize patterns easily, as well as connections between seemingly meaningless content. Logical learners typically work through problems and issues in a systematic way, and like to create procedures for future use. You might hear a logical learner say, “That’s logical, Follow the process, or There’s no pattern to this”. You can help logical learners by understanding the links between parts of a system.

Social Learners typically prefer learning in groups or to spend one-on-one time with a teacher. They heighten learning by bouncing thoughts off other people and listening to how they respond. Social learners often say things like, “Let’s work together on this.” “Let’s pull some people together to discuss.” Or, “Let’s explore our options.” Leaders can help these people learn by letting them work with others. Using tools like role-playing, mind maps and system diagrams are also useful.

Solitary learners prefer to work on problems by retreating to somewhere quiet and working through possible solutions. Sometimes they spend too much time trying to solve a problem by themselves when they could be more successful by talking to others. Solitary learners often say things like, “I’d like some time to think it over.” Or, “I’ll get back to you on that.”  You can help solitary learners by helping them set clear goals and objectives. Help guide them to align those goals with their values and personal beliefs.

Applying Learning Styles

A potential pitfall is making judgements about people based on their learning styles. It’s important not to assume that someone won’t be good at a certain task solely because of their learning style. We shouldn’t assume someone won’t be good at creating visuals for a presentation because they aren’t a visual learner. It is also dangerous to let others use their learning style as a crutch to avoid new situations. “I can’t take notes because I’m not verbal learner,” is not a true application of these learning styles.

The reality is that most people use a combination of the learning styles. Combining elements of each style can be helpful when working with a group of people. Pay attention to the styles that others use and to incorporate appropriate elements of those styles to communicate effectively. We got our information for this post from Learning Styles Online. Go check them out if you’d like to learn more. You can even take an assessment on their site to figure out what your own learning style is.

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