Understanding Learning Styles to Minimise Anxiety

For over 10 years I worked in learning and development, creating courses and online training for multinational companies. Whilst doing that I learnt a lot about how people learn and how we hold and retain information. 

There are many ways to give information but to give information which sticks and is remembered, now there’s an art form. 

As humans we all absorb information through our senses and we don’t all absorb information in the same way, but why should you care?

Why should learning styles matter for a professional?

Because we’re all in the business of giving and sharing information. Whether you think it or not every time you speak you’re sharing information and if you don’t know about learning styles you’re probably getting incredibly frustrated because you have to repeat yourself over and over or because someone just doesn’t get what you’re trying to tell them.

It also works for yourself, if you’ve ever been told something and its not sunk in or you have a list of 10 things to buy and you never remember them all. 

The information we receive can be communicated in different ways. Understanding your style can enable you to request information in a way which you find easy to understand and remember.

​I love improving efficiency and also making life easy so learning styles is top of my list when it comes to helping people ease their frustrations.

The most common learning styles

There are many profiling tools out there from Belbin’s team types to Myers Briggs but I like to use the following two. I chose these for you because I like simple tools which help us understand ourselves better. These two are simple, quick tools, you can do them yourselves, they don’t cost a fortune and give you enough information to really start making a difference.

Before we get into these a quick few words of warning, I’ve seen these tools used many times to put people in boxes. This doesn’t account for the complexities of being human. We are all neuroplastic, ie we’re constantly learning, so I encourage an approach based on awareness and flexibility rather than labelling people. We all have the ability to access all of these styles, my question is always what would be helpful to you. A rigid, I am X doesn’t serve you well as it doesn’t account for any flexibility or growth.

1) Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles.

Based on the work of Kolb this approach breaks down learning styles into 4 areas. Pragmatist, Activist, Theorist and Reflector. Below highlights the characteristics for each of the areas and you can have strengths in more than one. 

Pragmatist – These people like to see the real world application of something. Games and abstract scenarios don’t work for them. They like to experiment, try it out and see if it works.

Activists – These people learn by doing. They need to get their hands dirty and have a non-biased approach to new things. They jump in with both feet and give themselves fully to the learning experience.

Theorist – These people like the models, concepts and facts. They need to see the theory behind the learning. They like to analyse, theorise and bring new learning into a new model or formula.

Reflector – These people like to step back and observe, they like to take in all the information before giving their thoughts and opinions. They like to look at all the perspectives and then contribute to the learning.

As you can see all of these have their benefits and all can be useful to aiding the ability to absorb and retain information. Perhaps think about which styles you are more comfortable with, ask yourself is this helpful for you. Also asking what other people prefer and aim to give information in a style which they find easy. Understanding this can really improve your success and minimise your frustrations.

2) VAK.

This is an NLP technique I learnt many years ago and it’s still one of my favourites. I use this with all my clients to understand how they think so I can deliver information in a way which matches them. This model breaks down into our 5 senses Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Olfactory and Gusfactory. I’ve excluded the O and G as we don’t tend to lick and sniff things as our most used option in a business context. 

Visual- what we absorb through our eyes. If this is your preferred sense when recalling a memory you’ll see it like a picture. You’ll use your hands when talking and also visualise images easily.

Auditory – what we absorb through our ears. If this is your preferred sense how something sounds will be important to you, you’ll love words and how they sound. You’ll have an attuned ear which picks up on the smallest sounds.

Kineasthetic – what we absorb through feeling. If this is your preferred sense you’ll feel the atmosphere of the room, you’ll wear your heart on your sleeve and how someone is feeling will really matter to you.

As with the previous model you can have strengths in more than one. There is also audio digital but for now lets keep things simple. Knowing your ability means you can use your strengths to receive information in your preferred style eg visual people need it written down, auditory need it spoken and kinaesthetic people need to feel it’s right.

How to use these two models to ease anxiety, stress and improve communication

Do you know your preferred styles? If not that’s a great place to start. Do you know the preferred styles of those around you? If not, ask them. Most of our frustrations come because we don’t understand or are struggling to take in information. When you take the time to deliver it in a way which suits your audience you drastically cut the amount of frustration in your life. Imagine what it would be like if you only ever had to deliver information once!!

I explore learning styles when I work with clients so if you’d like to know more about your preferred balance and how this impacts your anxiety, stress levels and experiences of chronic pain, book a free Mindset Review today.


I hope this post has helped you to realise the importance of learning styles and given you two simple ones which you can get started with. 

It’s always nice to hear your findings, so feel free to share your style in the comments and lets continue the conversation.

Until next time


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