Learning styles are engrained in us from elementary school through college. Are you a kinesthetic, visual, or auditory learner? Are you a project-based worker or big picture thinker? In a world obsessed with Myers-Briggs personality types, knowing your learning style can be one of your biggest assets. Now that you’re a working adult, this knowledge is more relevant than ever.
Here are a few ways that your learning style will make or break your workplace success:
Depending on your workplace, you may be trained and re-trained regularly. Highly-qualified trainers will likely be skilled at presenting the same information in multiple formats to address varying learning styles, but not all trainers do. If you are a visual learner and training consists entirely of speech, you may need to jot down illustrations or take notes to keep pace with what is being taught to you. Similarly, if you learn by doing, ask to watch an example and then practice what you’ve learned under supervision. It is important that you know how you best learn so that you can cope with the training styles you’ll be presented with. You may find it very similar to being in a classroom with a professor whose teaching style didn’t align with your learning style.
Professional development means more today than ever. If you’re lucky enough to receive initial training, you will spend your first 3-5 years of work building on this training. Your employer will encourage professional development opportunities such as conferences, speaker series, workshops, and networking events. Taking advantage of these opportunities and improving as an employee can demonstrate your dedication to your profession. Consider your learning style when choosing these activities. Workshops provide hands-on learning experiences, while a speaker series would be best for an auditory learner. It’s okay to choose a format outside of your learning style, but be prepared to take extra notes or, if allowed, to record the session to reflect on later.
Companies, big and small, love data. Data analysis offers a way to divulge meaning from tons of information and seemingly arbitrary numbers describing clients and customers. Data can be viewed in several different ways. Some data analysts love spreadsheets. Others will use charts and graphs. However, not everyone understands and processes data in the same way, and this is highly correlated to your learning style. If your boss provides an Excel file of historical monthly sales data, but you better understand data through pie charts, graphs, and illustrations, there are several programs available for translating data-heavy files into easy-to-understand visuals. Also, ask a colleague or your boss to talk through the data with you to ensure you fully understand what you’ve been given.
Learning doesn’t stop with college graduation, nor does your learning style ever stop impacting the way you understand and take in information. Recognizing and understanding your learning style is how you can grow in your profession, and beyond.
Brenna Tonelli is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, the leading curated marketplace for private tutors. The company also builds mobile learning apps, online tutoring environments, and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies