Communicating In Your Members Language | VAK Learning Styles
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
How do you prefer to learn and communicate?
As a union, we are often faced with different people with different styles of learning. The ability to speak in a common language not only creates rapport but helps us easily understand new concepts. Once you understand how people prefer to communicate and learn, you can easily find ways to communicate in a more effective way. Knowing your learning styles can help in a number of ways.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a collection of methods which identify how the mind processes information. Within NLP, there are 3 communication modalities, which make up the VAK model. Understanding VAK helps you to know how you and others understand and interpret the world around you. You recognise how you easily connect with some people and struggle with others.
Knowing this difference means you can switch and calibrate your communication languages to match the recipients.
A visually-dominant learner absorbs and retains information better when it is presented in, for example, pictures, diagrams and charts. They respond to visual stimulus. Use words such as See, Look, View, Appear, Show, etc. to identify and connect with them.
An auditory-dominant learner prefers listening to what is being presented. They will thrive in lecture-type discussions and enjoy the back-and-forth of group discussions, so it can be useful to include brainstorming, debates, and storytelling in your training sessions. Use words such as Hear, Listen, Sound(s), Harmony, Tune in/out, I'm all ears, etc. to identify and connect with them.
A kinesthetic-dominant learner prefers a physical experience. Kinesthetic learners thrive on activity, so a good technique is to incorporate group work or role play into your learning. Getting people in your union out of the room and into an environment where they can try things out, such as team-building exercises, can be helpful too. Use words such as Feel, Touch, Grasp, Get hold of, Slip through, Catch on, Tap into, etc. to identify and connect with them.
While understanding these preferences can give you a valuable insight into how to plan and deliver training and learning, people employ all three learning styles to some degree, so it is sensible to present material in a variety of formats as well. Get to know your own learning preferences and those of your team. These can help you develop more effective strategies for delivering learning, training, and embedding better learning in your student union.
The best thing about this is all you need to do is discover the way in which your union officers, staff, or members like to receive information and you’re golden. You’ll become a master at communicating and effective in delivering on what you want to convey.
Download and use the worksheet below to find out your team and your personal learning styles:
References & Further Reading:
VAK LEARNING STYLES MODEL/People Development Magazine, Christina Lattimer
VAK Learning Styles/Mind Tools, The Mind Tools Content Team
How to Use VAK Learning Styles to Communicate at a Higher Level/The Institute for Professional Leadership, LLC
Why You Should Use VAK Learning Styles To Repurpose Your Content/Marketing & Publishing, Ashley Heckstall
The VARK Questionnaire/VARK Learn