What’s *Your* Learning Style?

A born navel gazer, I love assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs on personality type, that give me more insight into myself and others. Several years ago I took another questionnaire, on learning styles, that produced one of those aha! moments. My highest score was in interpersonal learning, which may explain why I can sit in a classroom or workshop and actually enjoy a lecture — though only if I get to ask questions. Even though I’m an introvert and sometimes struggle with approaching people, I often need to talk to people to understand what I’m learning.
My husband, on the other hand, is mostly an intrapersonal learner. He will go to great lengths to read up on what he wants to learn and figure it out himself. He struggles to endure a lecture. He falls asleep at plays and some movies. And, like the old trope about the difference between men and women, he would rather die than ask directions. I would rather ask directions than take a minute to look it up.
This is relevant to our new adventure in Mexico for obvious reasons.
I’d like to say that our complementary styles work beautifully — he goes to the web or the manual or the map while I ask a lot of questions. Somehow we come up with just the right answers!!
In truth, he’s the one who spends all day at the consulate, where he could ask lots and lots of questions of other people but generally is not comfortable doing so. I’m at home, DYING to ask questions, but with no one to talk to, since I haven’t even figured out how to use our local phones.
The obvious answer is for both of us to get out of our comfort zones. I mean, it would be easy enough for me to fiddle around with the cell phone and landline and try to make the various applications work, even look them up online. And Mark could ask some questions around the office.
But we each tend to default toward our preferred style, given that we’re still in major adjustment mode with limited emotional energy. That’s why I sent a looooooong email today to a couple of folks at the consulate with a lot of questions about the ins and outs of managing various bills, car and household concerns. Maybe I could just come into the office to talk it through, I suggested?!
Mark, on the other hand, still tries to figure things out without bothering anyone else — and he doesn’t have much time to ask around the office because of learning his new job and trying to meet expectations.
I suppose eventually we’ll each stretch ourselves a little more — and Mark, I’ll admit, is stretching more than I am these days. Recently I tried to find the manual of our unfamiliar oven online. I couldn’t track it down on the company website so emailed customer service and a real person emailed me back with the manual in Spanish. I then requested it in English and immediately received it. Ta da, success through interaction with a real person! No, wait … I now need to read the darned thing.
For his part, Mark has agreed to ask a real person at the office a question about the confusing utility bill we received, maybe even today. It’s possible he’ll just read it himself over lunch and figure it out. And if he does, that’s fine. Maybe our styles really are meshing effectively, as long as one of us gets an answer, right?
In the meantime, maybe I can interest you in exploring your learning style? And telling me about it? That would give me another chance to interact and put off reading the oven manual!
And learning really is so important — in The Once and Future King, I sometimes tell my clients, Merlin advises a young Arthur, “The best cure for depression is to learn something.”
Here’s a link:
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2 thoughts on “What’s *Your* Learning Style?

  1. Fran,

    I am definitely a “figure it out myself” learner. But with me it comes from some ridiculous expectation of self reliance. Consequently I am comfortable with failure and frustration. But then when I “get it”, I never forget it. This has been a year of sticking a toe outside my comfort zone and learning new skills. My hope for 2015 is a few baby steps toward being able to ASK for guidance.. My way can be kind of lonely.. But it is all I have known. Any suggestions on how to approach people? : )

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    • Erin, I greatly admire your do-it-myself-ness! And it makes total sense that when you figure out how to do it on your own, including failures, you grasp it much, much better. At the same time, I greatly sympathize with the difficulty of approaching people. All I can think of is to frame the request for help in a way that makes you more comfortable with making it. For one thing, people often appreciate being asked for help and like to have a way to help/guide (I’ve learned this over time). So it’s a more balanced exchange than a request for a handout. And people you know are also likely to recognize that you don’t ask for help/guidance very often and thus appreciate the effort. If they’re people you don’t know well, that’s OK too. What’s the worst that could happen if you get a no? Really answer that question, honestly. Maybe nothing, maybe you’ll feel lousy for a few hours or days. And then it will pass. And if they say yes, it may open new vistas for you in ways you didn’t even expect. Also, don’t restrict yourself to asking for help thinking you will need to somehow pay that person back. Often that’s almost impossible. You may just have to pay it forward 😉

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