How to Understand Your Clients Learning Style by Julie Gillespie

Have you ever wondered how some people pick things up really quickly and others struggle? If you only have one method of delivering a message to your clients you will be wasting lots of time and receiving puzzled looks from at least 30% of your customers. This is why understanding the different learning styles is important.

How Do Your Clients like to Learn?

We all have a preferred learning style and if you have the ability to identify your customers preferred style your sessions will be maximised, rapport increased and future sessions secured!

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Learning Styles Explained

The VAK learning styles model suggests that most people can be divided into one of three preferred styles of learning. These three styles are as follows, (and there is no right or wrong learning style):

  • Someone with a Visual learning style has a preference for seen or observed things, including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, displays, handouts, films, flip-chart, etc. These people will use phrases such as ‘show me’, ‘let’s have a look at that’ and will be best able to perform a new task after reading the instructions or watching someone else do it first. These are the people who will work from lists and written directions and instructions.
  • Someone with an Auditory learning style has a preference for the transfer of information through listening: to the spoken word, of self or others, of sounds and noises. These people will use phrases such as ‘tell me’, ‘let’s talk it over’ and will be best able to perform a new task after listening to instructions from an expert. These are the people who are happy being given spoken instructions over the telephone, and can remember all the words to songs that they hear!
  • Someone with a Kinaesthetic learning style has a preference for physical experience - touching, feeling, holding, doing, practical hands-on experiences. These people will use phrases such as ‘let me try’, ‘how do you feel?’ and will be best able to perform a new task by going ahead and trying it out, learning as they go. These are the people who like to experiment, hands-on, and never look at the instructions first!

How to Identify Your Clients Style

The Visual – Thinking in pictures

The visual person tends to use language that contains visual words and phrases. E.g. “I get the picture”,” let’s try to put this into perspective.”

If you want to build rapport with the visual you might want to start by saying “you see his point of view”, or “see things more clearly now.”

The Auditory – thinking in sounds

Similarly, auditory thinking may be indicated by words and phrases. E.g. “I hear what you are saying” “sounds good to me”

When you listen to the kind of words the auditory says in his sentences and MATCH them, he realises that you, “talk the same language” and what you say “rings true” for him too!

The kinesthetic – represent thoughts as feelings

If your prospect has to access a feeling he will tend to use “feeling” type language and words related to touch. For example, “We are getting to grips with the problem” or “Things are moving along smoothly”

When you want to get in touch with him you could get a feel for the type of words he prefers to use and then use similar type of language.

We are in the people business so we must sharpen our communication tools regularly. Challenge yourself to change your communication style and watch the improvement in.

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So which Learning Style are You? Take the Test Below

Circle or tick the answer that most represents how you generally behave.

1. When I operate new equipment I generally:
a) read the instructions first
b) listen to an explanation from someone who has used it before
c) go ahead and have a go, I can figure it out as I use it

2. When I need directions for travelling I usually:
a) look at a map
b) ask for spoken directions
c) follow my nose and maybe use a compass

3. When I cook a new dish, I like to:
a) follow a written recipe
b) call a friend for an explanation
c) follow my instincts, testing as I cook

4. If I am teaching someone something new, I tend to:
a) write instructions down for them
b) give them a verbal explanation
c) demonstrate first and then let them have a go

5. I tend to say:
a) watch how I do it
b) listen to me explain
c) you have a go

6. During my free time I most enjoy:
a) going to museums and galleries
b) listening to music and talking to my friends
c) playing sport or doing DIY

7. When I go shopping for clothes, I tend to:
a) imagine what they would look like on
b) discuss them with the shop staff
c) try them on and test them out

8. When I am choosing a holiday I usually:
a) read lots of brochures
b) listen to recommendations from friends
c) imagine what it would be like to be there

9. If I was buying a new car, I would:
a) read reviews in newspapers and magazines
b) discuss what I need with my friends
c) test-drive lots of different types

10. When I am learning a new skill, I am most comfortable:
a) watching what the teacher is doing
b) talking through with the teacher exactly what I’m supposed to do
c) giving it a try myself and work it out as I go

11. If I am choosing food off a menu, I tend to:
a) imagine what the food will look like
b) talk through the options in my head or with my partner
c) imagine what the food will taste like

12. When I listen to a band, I can’t help:
a) watching the band members and other people in the audience
b) listening to the lyrics and the beats
c) moving in time with the music

13. When I concentrate, I most often:
a) focus on the words or the pictures in front of me
b) discuss the problem and the possible solutions in my head
c) move around a lot, fiddle with pens and pencils and touch things

14. I choose household furnishings because I like:
a) their colours and how they look
b) the descriptions the sales-people give me
c) their textures and what it feels like to touch them

15. My first memory is of:
a) looking at something
b) being spoken to
c) doing something

16. When I am anxious, I:
a) visualise the worst-case scenarios
b) talk over in my head what worries me most
c) can’t sit still, fiddle and move around constantly

17. I feel especially connected to other people because of:
a) how they look
b) what they say to me
c) how they make me feel

18. When I have to revise for an exam, I generally:
a) write lots of revision notes and diagrams
b) talk over my notes, alone or with other people
c) imagine making the movement or creating the formula

19. If I am explaining to someone I tend to:
a) show them what I mean
b) explain to them in different ways until they understand
c) encourage them to try and talk them through my idea as they do it

20. I really love:
a) watching films, photography, looking at art or people watching
b) listening to music, the radio or talking to friends
c) taking part in sporting activities, eating fine foods and wines or dancing

21. Most of my free time is spent:
a) watching television
b) talking to friends
c) doing physical activity or making things

22. When I first contact a new person, I usually:
a) arrange a face to face meeting
b) talk to them on the telephone
c) try to get together whilst doing something else, such as an activity or a meal

23. I first notice how people:
a) look and dress
b) sound and speak
c) stand and move

24. If I am angry, I tend to:
a) keep replaying in my mind what it is that has upset me
b) raise my voice and tell people how I feel
c) stamp about, slam doors and physically demonstrate my anger

25. I find it easiest to remember:
a) faces
b) names
c) things I have done

26. I think that you can tell if someone is lying if:
a) they avoid looking at you
b) their voices changes
c) they give me funny vibes

27. When I meet an old friend:
a) I say “it’s great to see you!”
b) I say “it’s great to hear from you!”
c) I give them a hug or a handshake

28. I remember things best by:
a) writing notes or keeping printed details
b) saying them aloud or repeating words and key points in my head
c) doing and practising the activity or imagining it being done

29. If I have to complain about faulty goods, I am most comfortable:
a) writing a letter
b) complaining over the phone
c) taking the item back to the store or posting it to head office

30. I tend to say:
a) I see what you mean
b) I hear what you are saying
c) I know how you feel

Now add up how many A’s, B’s and C’s you selected.

A’s =             B’s =             C’s =

If you chose mostly A’s you have a VISUAL learning style.

If you chose mostly B’s you have an AUDITORY learning style.

If you chose mostly C’s you have a KINAESTHETIC learning style.

People commonly have a main preferred learning style, but this will be part of a blend of all three. Some people have a very strong preference; other people have a more even mixture of two or less commonly, three styles.

When you know your preferred learning style(s) you understand the type of learning that best suits you. This enables you to choose the types of learning that work best for you. The real benefit comes from when you can identify your clients style and then modify how you communicate. Think about the words you will use and how you would describe the same thing in three different ways.