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What’s the Best Way to Learn? – The Coaching Room

Hey there, Max here from The Coaching Room. Thanks for checking out my latest article on discovering your most effective learning style.

In our NLP Practitioner courses, one of the frames we offer to our students is that confusion is a prerequisite to learning. If you’re not confused, that means no new information is getting in.

So first and foremost, a person’s relationship with confusion can be their greatest edge for learning, or the thing that holds them back.

The reason we offer this as a frame in our NLP training is that it has been our experience (mine too) that our students come into the room with a certain way of thinking, seeing, hearing and behaving – that they’ve been doing their whole lives.

What tends to happen over the 8 days is a massive paradigm shift to see and hear the world in an entirely different way. In that, this process can be very confusing, disorientating as our students move and transform into a different way of being.

Confused yet? Let’s dive into it!

So through the study of NLP and the NLP Communication Model – we understand that humans don’t deal directly with reality, but a map of reality. This map of reality is filtered and constructed based upon our Meta Programs (habituated thinking patterns) beliefs, values, decisions and our past. We then delete, distort and generalise that information and create a map or movie on the inside, about the outside. This, in turn, affects our state of mind, physiology and behaviour.




Got that so far? So what is the fabric of the “Internal Representation” or map?

We take the world in through our senses – V A K Ad.

Visual – images, pictures, movies and sights.

Let’s have a look at people with a visual preference in the context of learning. Those who have a preference and over-specialise in the visual system tend to:

  • Be more interested in how things look and value appearances of self and other.
  • Memorise and learn by seeing pictures, infographics, graphs, visual aids and models.
  • Can often have trouble learning and remembering through long verbal instructions.
  • Sit or stand in a way that allows them to take in as much as possible through the visual senses.
  • Often move their eyes upwards.

Auditory – Sounds, tones, pitch and volume.

Let’s hear how at people with an auditory preference can affect their learning style. Those who have a preference and over-specialise in the auditory system tend to:

  • Be most interested in what sounds right.
  • Pay attention to sounds, tones, volumes and can find other noises distracting.
  • Can easily repeat what they hear back, learning best by listening.
  • Highly values tone of voice and the use of specific words.
  • Often move their eyes laterally (sideways) and tilt their head to aim their ear towards a person speaking.

Kinesthetic – Feelings, sensations movement and touch.

Let’s get a feel for how at people with a kinesthetic preference can affect their learning style. Those who have a preference and over-specialise in the kinesthetic system tend to:

  • Use their body to think, remember and communicate.
  • Tonality will tend to be slower, lower-pitched and with hesitations.
  • Most interested that something feels right.
  • Memorise and learn by doing something, moving or walking around.
  • Fidget or move around.

Auditory Digital – the overlay of self-talk.

Let’s get a sense of how at people with an Auditory Digital preference can affect their learning style. Those who have a preference and over-specialise in the Auditory Digital system tend to:

  • Want to make sense of things by using words or conversations (either with themselves or with others).
  • Talk in more abstract terms, generalise, theorise and deduce.
  • May have little awareness of the sensory based systems.
  • Much less use of the body and gestures.
  • Move their lips while silently talking to themselves.

So from a basic overview of what each representational system is, and how they can affect learning style – what’s yours? Did you notice that I used linguistic cues for each system? If you can pick up on the linguistic cues that you and other people use, you can detect a person’s way of processing information.

Here are some examples:

  • If I could show you an attractive and very clear way so that you could learn this, I wonder if you would like to look at it and see that if it fits with what you’re wanting.
  • If I could effectively describe to you some of the benefits of hearing your learning style, would that resonate with you?
  • If I could help you get a grip on your learning style in a more concrete way to enable you to embrace it fully – would you like to try it on to get a feel for it?
  • If I could help you evaluate what your most effective learning style is by deducing what you do the least and factor in what you do the most, would that be significant for you?

Here is a little, yet significant NLP hack. If you can pick up on the linguistic cues a person uses, especially in the metaphors they share – this is a great indication of the representational system an individual is talking from.

So what? What can you do with this information?

As human beings, we all have the capacity in these representational systems. We can all do them. The question is, can you do them equally or do you have a preference for one or two? Chances are you have a preference, and this becomes your greatest strength and simultaneously your biggest weakness.

Once you discover your preference, you can use this to your advantage by applying it to your learning style! Do you have a visual preference? Read more books. Do you have an auditory preference? Listen to audio books. Do you have a kinesthetic preference? Learn something by doing it! Auditory digital? Have a discussion to refine your learning and understanding.

If you over-specialise in your preference, this becomes what you pay attention to the most and therefore pay less attention to the others – you’re missing information. So you have the opportunity to practice in other representational systems to gain some flexibility in the way you think and perceive.

What are the other applications of knowing this?

Knowing your preference in your representational style can be valuable not only in the context of your learning style but also your communication style. If you have a visual preference, you’ll most likely think and talk in visual terms. What if you’re trying to describe something to someone who doesn’t have a visual preference? Do you have the flexibility to adapt to their preference to communicate more effectively?

What about your “love language”? How do you know you’re loved? Do you need to see it? Hear it? Feel it? How do you then express love? Does your partner have the same preference? What if they don’t? How have you been communicating your love? Is it being received in the way you intended it? Do you see where I’m going with this?

You cannot, not communicate. What and how we communicate to ourselves creates our states and therefore the quality of our lives. We then communicate from the state we are in, to the states that others are in. So the quality of your communication also determines the quality of your connecting and relating.

That’s me. Thanks for reading!


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