Improving yourself isn’t just about taking the time to learn more, but understanding how you learn the best. There are dozens of theories on how we get information, how we retain it and, most importantly, how we actually apply it. Nearly all of them put each person into one of five categories. Check out the descriptions, think about which you identify with the most and consider how the details can improve your learning habits.
Auditory learners thrive in hearing the information they need. The skillset becomes a serious asset in communication areas such as learning a new language or understanding music. Auditory learners do well in tutor situations where there’s a dynamic person giving instruction.
If you’re an auditory learner, consider doing less reading and more listening to get your information. Podcasts and audiobooks are en vogue now, and even some online websites provide an audio link so you can hear the information rather than read through it.
Visual learners take in information through picture cues. Diagrams, flowcharts and sketches make the most sense to them. They’re drawn to visual examples more than words. Drawing something on the back of a proverbial napkin is more effective than giving them knowledge in other formats.
If you’re a visual learner, don’t be shy about asking for someone to make a drawing to illustrate what they’re saying. Not only will it help you grasp their point, but you could actually be helping them articulate themselves better.
Read/write learners do best putting information down on paper. Words resonate the most with this group — not only reading to get data, but in writing down what they learn from others to solidify it. Books, articles and other classic communication forms resonate the most with read/write learners.
If you’re a read/write learner, it could pay off to not make big decisions immediately during an important meeting. Writing down your ideas helps you organize your thoughts and, if you make time to process, you may discover key points you would’ve missed otherwise.
Kinesthetic learners understand the most when they do it themselves. Unlike other groups, they need to be hands-on to best absorb new concepts. Kinesthetic learners do well in environments that require self-direction and heavy involvement.
If you’re a kinesthetic learner, cultivate being bold in taking risks. You may often be the first one to volunteer to do something new, simply because you know it’s the best way for you to learn. Embrace your instinct to try on new ideas.
Multimodal learners are the most complex, as they take on traits of the other four groups depending on the situation. A multimodal learner who’s a musician may excel at, say, writing the music, playing the music and envisioning the best visuals to accompany the music.
If you’re a multimodal learner, respect that your mood may dictate the best approach of the moment. Your multifaceted approach to understanding means you can be an asset to virtually any team, but you also have to respect that certain learning styles may feel more comfortable to you from moment to moment.