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THE 4 LEARNING STYLES: How to Create MAGNETIC Information That Speaks to ALL Personality Types

2 November 2011 One Comment

image of four nerds in science lab

Ever try to teach somebody something important and get the weird feeling it went right through one ear and out the other? Ever have someone explain a vague concept to you by randomly pulling together facts and ideas that lead nowhere??? Both sides of the coin – having a poor teacher or having a lazy student – can be VERY annoying.

What if I told you that when this happens, it’s not because the person is just dumb (although that might be the case) or – on the reverse side – because *they* have absolutely NO idea what they’re talking about, but simply because they have a completely different “personality type for knowledge” than you do?

What if I told you that there are actually four *different* “learning styles,” that if you consciously knew and used to structure YOUR information, you’d ALWAYS be listened to…that people would seek YOU out to learn from and that you’d never be ignored (or thought of as “whacko” or preachy) again???

The Thing Is…

…while we all know about the personality types (introverted/extroverted, type A/type B, etc.), for some odd reason, we rarely think about how that same theory might play out in more specific areas of life.

For instance, Dr. Gary Chapman talks about the personality types of love in his book The 5 Love Languages which we’ll get into later this week, and Prof. Wyatt Woodsmall (author of numerous books on psychology and NLP) talks about the personality types of knowledge with his concept, “The 4 Learning Styles,” which we’re about to get into right now.

image of asian woman teaching young students

Now to be clear, these are NOT simply the various “mediums” you can put information in (like verbal, visual, or audio), they’re fundamentally different ways our psyches come pre-wired to understand new ideas.

By instinct, most of us only talk OUR OWN language: whenever we have something to teach or explain, we resort to our own natural style and assume that the other person should just “get it,”…and if they don’t, that that’s their problem, not ours.

But as you know, that’s a passive, failure-prone approach to have, so let’s get straight into it and talk about how you can start implementing the four learning styles in your own life today.

1: The “WHY” Learning-Style

picture of african american business woman looking impatient“Why-learners” are always asking the question “WHY?” as in “Why am I learning this?” or “Why are you even telling me???” Quite literally, a why person CAN’T learn unless it’s made clear from the outset “why” knowledge is being shared in the first place…

One powerful way to talk to a why-learner is with BENEFITS & CONSEQUENCES. Remember a few paragraphs ago where I said, “People will seek YOU out to learn from…you’ll never be ignored/thought of as preachy again”?? That’s what I mean: tell the person directly, “If you learn this ____ (insert positive benefit) will happen, but if you DON’T learn this ___ (insert negative consequence) will happen.”

This is why most of my blog titles are so benefits-focused. Since *most people are why-learners*, I make sure, from jump, to tell people EXACTLY to expect and what they’re going to get out of it.

2: The “WHAT” Learning-Style

picture of businessman in contemplation“What-learners” are the conceptual people: they always want to know “What’s this really about?” or “What’s the deeper meaning here?”, because for the what learning style, if there’s no deeper concepts, theoretical framework or even symbolism (in the case of a movie), there’s really no point.

One powerful way to talk to a what-learner is with THE HISTORY, like in one of my better posts on time-management where I said: “Time management is played out, and what I mean by that is that traditional ‘time management’ comes out of a world that no longer exists…

…the term dates way back to the *industrial revolution* which was the first time when ‘output’ for the average person was no longer confined to nature…whereas before,

>> work used to be determined by seasons and sunlight hours,

>> holidays by inclement weather and

>> even time itself by looking at the Sun,

…this was the first time when people started using clocks, working in factories and leaving their rural hometowns for major cities.” >> con’t reading

See what I mean? Anytime you talk about the history of something (or where an idea comes from and why), you’re almost guaranteed to satisfy a what-learner’s conceptual hunger. Go back and re-read from the sub-heading that starts, “The Thing Is…” for another example.

3: The HOW Learning-Style

picture of young man looking confused“How-learners” are always asking “So HOW do I actually do this?” and learn best through step-by-step formulas. These are the people who want detailed plans, similar to cooking instructions or a GameFAQs walkthrough…

Obviously, the way talk to a how-learner is by HAND-HOLDING. Even if it sounds silly (or unnecessary), say “First do this, then do this, and then do that…” or somehow CREATE A PROCEDURE that tells them exactly what to do.

For examples, go towards the end of my post on Healthy Selfishness, or watch from 5:30 – 6:30 in my video on the “4 Elements” morning routine.

4: The “WHAT-IF” Learning-Style

image of eurasian woman looking impatientAnd lastly, “What-if learners” are the entrepreneurs of the world: they’re the people who want to go do something *as soon* as they get a valuable idea (to the point of even leaving a seminar midway because they “got what they needed.”). They want to really test ideas out and see if they work…

I’ve found that the best way to speak to a what-if learner is to GIVE THEM PERMISSION. Be succinct, to the point and simply say “Alright, now go out and try and let me know how it works for you,” they’ll appreciate the brevity and feel like you’re more in touch with the real world.

Tying the 4 Styles Together

Now you may be wondering, “So how do I know what style a particular person is before I start teaching?” and the answer is, YOU DON’T, so the best thing to do is incorporate all 4 styles to make sure you’re information speaks to everyone. (Go in this same order – Why, What, How and then What-If – because most people are Why’s, then What’s, so on and so forth.)

Think RIght Now for Windows

Next time you have something to teach, sit down and devise why (play out all the benefits and consequences of knowing/not knowing it), explain what (teach the history or theory), and after you teach it, summarize with a procedure for the how’s, and then give the what-if’s permission get out there and do it.

Before you get started thought, take a second to leave your thoughts in the comment section now. What type of learning style are you? How do YOU like information to be shared so that you learn best???


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One Comment »

  • Tiffany said:

    Clearly I am a “what” and “what-if” all day and several times on sunday! The reality is when I do not receive the information desired based on my style of learning I will search for the same content elsewhere that IS delivered as such. To me, it confirms a great deal and (of course) stays with me in a way that I can materialize. This article is a definite contribution to my progression as countless others have been. As always Bryan, thank you!

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