What Is Your Learning Style?

Do you occasionally wonder why some people seem to grasp information immediately while others struggle to comprehend? Why do some customers remember what you showed and told them and others barely recall anything?

In some cases, it could have a little to do with intelligence or even attention span, but more often it has to do with the way each individual learns…receives and retains information.

Educators have known for a long time that there are distinct learning styles. The challenge for them is matching a student’s learning style with a teacher’s teaching style. This applies to employees trying to learn a new product or selling skill from a rep. or trainer; or to customers trying to understand why to select a product being presented by a salesperson or designer. As the old saying goes, selling is teaching and buying is learning.

I did a little digging and found some research done by The Institute for Learning Styles. It showed that, “Different learners have different strategies, some conscious and some subconscious, for receiving and memorizing information. These methods, or "pathways," determine how individuals retain lessons in their long-term memory in unique ways.”

According to this research, “While there are only five senses, there are seven learning styles.”

The seven learning styles are:

Visual – Spatial Learning

Aural - Auditory-Musical- Rhythmic

Verbal – Linguistic

Physical Bodily - Kinesthetic

Logical – Mathematical

Social – Interpersonal

Solitary – Intrapersonal

This is a much deeper subject than I can write about here, but here are some quick descriptions. Do you see yourself or people you know in one of these?

1. See! Visual Learners who favor this pathway benefit from demonstrations, images, graphs, tables, and other visual aids.

2. Hear! In contrast to a visual learner, an Aural Learner responds well to lectures, tapes (well, podcasts), plays, and other methods involving listening.

3. Touch! This is called the Haptic Modality. In plain English, haptic learners are folks who go for the "hands-on" approach—literally. Writing a paper? Doodle out the structure before turning it into words. Trying to memorize logarithmic functions? Well, even if you can't make a 3-D model, even manipulating an object or twiddling thumbs while studying can help that info seep in.

4. Speak! The Interactive Pathway is all about verbalization or interacting with others in groups, pairs, or Socrates-style Q&A sessions. Interactive learners will benefit from talking through each step in a group… or even hearing themselves narrate it through—it's all about verbalization for internalization. These are people who do well in a discussion group, like the INDEAL Round Tables or Webinars…as long as they get a chance to speak. When selling to customers like this, be sure to ask for their opinion and feedback.

5. Move! A Kinesthetic Learner. Anything from pencil-tapping to doodling to wood-carving could get those learning juices flowing. For these types of learners, whether it's acting out scenes from the Napoleonic Wars or grinning and bearing it as they tap away, it's worth keeping in mind that physical response can be a super helpful pathway to learning. Some of these learners can’t sit still, so walking around the room or sitting in some of the “bounce chairs” helps them to learn.

6. Read! This one seems pretty obvious. Print-oriented readers learn by reading. They like taking notes. This points out the need for printed material, a major reason INDEAL produces Idea Books. Remember, if you are selling, the customer is learning. You don’t want to eliminate a major pathway to learning by not being prepared with this important teaching tool.

7. Take a sniff! It's the Olfactory Learners who associate certain tastes and especially smells with memory, but wouldn't the whole class enjoy a day like that? This may be difficult to translate to selling furniture, but people often recall the smell of freshly cut wood or the smell of leather versus a fabric or vinyl.

Does that mean they shouldn't experiment with other styles? Of course not. While many students learn best when they're using their favored pathway, incorporating a range of activities and methods keeps the classroom fresh and the students on their toes. Even if the activity in question seems kind of weird at first.

The perceptual styles don't cover every kind of learning experience. But they can help you understand different methods that work for different students/ customers.

Many dealers approached INDEAL and asked for help creating learning programs for their staff. Education and training are often a stretch from the primary daily mission of a dealership; providing products and services to a client.

Enter INDEAL University. This was developed to address the many different types of ways dealers and suppliers educate their staff.

Onboarding - INDEAL can help you onboard your employees with a system to fast-track their success. We have a complete plan, from hiring justification to ensuring that all new talent has the knowledge and skills required to succeed and thrive!

Video Library - Some companies need Micro-learning; Micro-learning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. The term is used in e-learning and related fields in the sense of learning processes in mediated environments. INDEAL created a video library of short informational videos which include a short self-test at the end. Additional videos are being added to enlarge the number of industry specific topics available to INDEAL members.

Webinars - Interaction is where it’s at! Live streaming webinars provide a more detailed introduction to the contract furniture industry and a comprehensive understanding of each product category. Participants will be encouraged to join in by asking questions of the facilitator and their colleagues.

Live Training - It's commonly known that for maximum retention and results, the best way to learn is in a classroom setting. Each of the programs offered are most successful when participants work together, share knowledge, and learn from colleagues. Come prepared to learn and teach. Invest in your future!

Consulting - Business is constantly evolving and change is no longer a new concept. Keeping up with that change and ensuring maximum efficiencies is the answer to continuous growth for our dealers. Our consultants have decades of experience and are experts in working with you to improve efficiencies, increase profits and enhance the overall performance of your dealership. Our goal is to see your business thrive!

For a list of INDEAL Performance Partners with whom you can connect, click the Solutions tab at the top of the INDEAL website.

Learning should be a life-long journey.

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn AND YOU WILL.”

Vernon Howard - Vernon Linwood Howard was an American spiritual teacher, author, and philosopher.