Have you ever found yourself thinking any of the following?
I’ve TOLD her how do do that before, she should know.
I really wish you didn’t need to know so much detail about this really simple task — stop asking questions and just get it done.
He just doesn’t listen.
Perhaps what these (or similar) statements reveal are actually clues that you might be able to use to learn about someone’s learning style.
For example, a pragmatic person is someone who needs a solid application for what’s being said or what they’re being asked to do. The pragmatist in us needs to be convinced of this particular request, this task’s importance, and its context into the bigger picture. They don’t need a massive amount of detail about it. So if you happen to be working with a pragmatist, remember that they just need some wording from you on how this will WORK for them.
A theoretical person, on the other hand, is someone that prefers a lot of detail and is more likely to ask lots of detailed questions. In fact, these may be questions that they already know the answer to: they just want to test their assumptions. To a non-theoretical person this may seem pedantic. But it’s important to keep in mind how beautifully important detail is to some.
The reflective learner is less likely to be upfront about their needs. They are generally found to be the hardest to ‘read’ and may even seem a little too tentative in their request of information.
As you might expect, the activist learner isn’t afraid to jump in. Their enthusiasm will strike you and be instantly seductive, but it’s not always sustainable.
As a leader, it’s up to us to adapt to all learning styles. Not just for those we work for, those we work with and those who work for us, we also need an understanding of our own learning style.
Think for a moment how your team like to take in information and consider how that impacts the way you distribute it to them. Here are a few things to do that might help:
- Test before you assess. Ask some tentative questions to test your assumptions about the way some may like to learn.
- Think before you speak to each individual once their preferences have been established. Your map of the world is most likely different to theirs.
- As you build your flexibility of delivery, you can gently introduce ways to help each style be more adaptive to other styles.
Watch this quick video about Honey and Mumford’s learning styles: