Understanding how learning styles and metaphors impact communications.

Thomas-Ritt Associates Limited, Copyright 2002, 2003.

Thomas Stirr
Stories and metaphors are some of the oldest forms of communication and teaching. Entire cultures have survived for hundreds of years by passing down knowledge through the use of these techniques. We can dramatically improve our interpersonal communications by developing our abilities to create metaphors and stimulate them in other people.

Using metaphors comes naturally for many people.
Most metaphors are ‘picture based’ and therefore have strong appeal to people that are predominantly visual learners. People that are strong visual learners are usually very comfortable creating metaphors and relating to those that surface during discussions. Kinesthetic learners (those that learn by touch, feeling or doing) or auditory learners (those that learn by hearing) often have difficulty relating to the visual stimulation of picture-based metaphors.

Recognizing learning styles.
By paying attention to way other people speak and what they do, we can identify their predominant learning style and use this knowledge to build strong communication bridges with them. The chart at the end of this article is a brief summary of some learning style clues.

Evoking learning styles.
The most powerful metaphors are those that are created by the people we talk to, since they help demonstrate personal context and create a neutral and safe discussion territory. By asking very simple questions coaches can stimulate particular kinds of client recall. This can be critical in helping a coach who is not a strong visual learner relate to a client metaphor.



Post a Comment