If you have dyslexia or think you might, you may struggle with many aspects of it… this is one of a series of posts over the coming weeks which will outline some practical tips, and more fundamental attitude changes, that my clients have found helpful, whether dyslexic or not, to be more productive and effective in life and career.
Tip 2 Find your primary learning style
You learn something new every day – or we hope so anyway! Being able to perform at our best involves receiving and retaining new information every day, and our learning style plays a big part in this. Dyslexic people are not necessarily more or less intelligent than anyone else, it’s just different brain wiring, which has some advantages as well as disadvantages.
Aside from studying or being in a formal learning environment, if you have dyslexia, you may have difficulty preparing for interview, remembering the points you want to make in a presentation, organising your thoughts, writing an essay or report, staying focused on your priorities – all of these can be helped by using tricks and strategies that work with your learning style rather than against it. All of us, whether dyslexic or not, have one or two dominant learning styles, such as…
- Visual – information received visually, such as charts, diagrams, video, photographs, colours. People who have a strong visual sense (and most of us learn better from images than words, after all we mostly think in pictures, not words) can benefit from using mindmaps, cartoons, or whiteboards, coloured markers, coloured post it notes etc – because these help you to retain and organise information more easily. Colour coding folders and files can help with personal organisation and being able to find things when you want them!
- Auditory – information received through the ears, such as tone, music, rhythm, pitch – it might be useful to remember things by recording them on your phone or voice recorder; you might enjoy audio books and find them easier to manage than printed material.
- Kinaesthetic (or Physical) – information received through experience, physical sensation, movement – people who enjoy sports and hands-on activities; practical work such as experiments, baking, gardening and making things often helps people to get their mind working more efficiently – just walking or moving while you’re thinking can be helpful, which is often why sitting still in a classroom is not beneficial for some people.
- Logical – information that is numerical, logic based, systematic and structured – people will enjoy maths, calculations, science subjects and find the concepts easy to grasp.
- Verbal / Language – information conveyed by the actual words used whether written or spoken – for dyslexic people this may be your weakest area, and result in problems remembering words, solutions, names etc – often though you may find that working as much as possible through the other learning styles above will help you. Things such as saying words and names out loud, and repeating them, means that you will hear them as well as be thinking about them, so this can be helpful in daily life.
As well as these styles above, we may have preferences for learning and communicating in a social context, or working on our own in a quiet environment, or perhaps a combination of the two – this may tie in with your personality type whether introvert or extrovert.
If you understand your most effective learning styles, then you can harness that information to help you remember things more easily, using techniques that work for you, and help you improve your personal organisation if you need to.
One other element of learning style is what you might call intuition or gut instinct – often we “know” or have learned things that we find it difficult to say how or why we know, we just do. Maybe it’s a combination of all the senses… or something more. Just because we can’t explain it doesn’t mean it’s not real. Intuition and the ability to tune into others is often associated with Emotional Intelligence, which is seen as a significant asset in business and personal leadership.
After all, with all the information we have at our fingertips, we can still make mistakes – most of us though will learn to trust our intuition and hopefully can tune into it more to help us be the best we can be.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein.
If you’d like to suggest things that have worked for you, then please feel free to reply or comment – would love to hear from you.
Liz Barron – Realize Coaching – realize your potential
Career & Executive Coaching | Coaching for Dyslexia