How to use your Cofounder’s Learning Style to your Advantage
You’ve probably heard about learning styles before, but did you know that it also affects how we interact within our business partnerships? As cofounders, it is important that you take your business partner’s learning style into account when brainstorming and problem-solving together. Here’s how.
The 7 learning styles are:
- Aural (auditory-musical)
- Social (interpersonal)
- Solitary (intrapersonal)
- Verbal (linguistic)
- Logical (mathematical)
Visual learners will often retain more information if it is presented to them in a visual way; as an image, video, mind map or diagram. If you’re a visual learner, you might like to take notes or doodle while in a meeting, for example, as it assists your brain in forming memory and connections. In business, that could mean presenting new ideas or discussing a new project with visual aid, such as a powerpoint presentation or whiteboard. This also might mean your attention falters if you’re in a long phone call, for example, or attend a lecture-based seminar.
If you’re partnered with a visual learner, avoid relying solely on speech or numbers when in a meeting or working together, as they will likely have a harder time grasping and retaining the information. If you’re brainstorming ideas, pull out a whiteboard or have them take notes, as that will assist their visual brain.
If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you thrive with hands-on activities and simulations. Depending on what business you’ve built, these activities could be happening every day, or not at all. If you’re a chef or artist, you can scratch that itch daily. If, however, you’re in finance, there might not be a good way to incorporate kinesthetic learning in your day-to-day life. Make your daily experience easier by taking breaks to move around, having a standing desk or using gestures and enactments during meetings.
If your partner is a kinesthetic learner, help them be the best version of themselves by allowing them to take breaks to move around, use gestures to explain your ideas, and allow space for hands-on experience if possible. Kinesthetic learners benefit from the “DIY” approach, where they will excel when given the chance to put their knowledge to the test. Let them!
Aural learners can retain more information if it is presented to them audibly, as speech, a lecture or audiobook, for example. They might not feel the need to take notes, or benefit from visual queues. If you’re an auditory learner, the main takeaway should be that you must consider others’ needs when you’re presenting an idea, or leading a discussion: be sure to integrate other forms of learning in your repertoire, as for many, following along only aurally is challenging.
If you have an auditory learner as a partner, and you’re not one yourself, you’re in luck! They might pick up on and remember things that were explained vocally in passing when you did not have the chance to write them down. This is a great asset to have in a partner, but you might struggle when you’re discussing ideas or explaining concepts to each other. If you’re in a position where you must explain something to your partner, don’t forget to focus on what you’re saying, and not use visual queues or physical examples as crutches. Be prepared for their questions; it’s not a bad idea to have a script or notes you can reference either.
Social learners thrive on group-based activities and social interaction. They like working with others and benefit from group projects and receiving feedback. If you’re in a business partnership, odds are you have at least some ease with social learning, as you’ve chosen to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship with a partner. If you’re primarily a social learner, though, you might struggle when it comes to individual tasks, or independent work. You might feel unmotivated and drained working alone and it might come at the cost of work satisfaction. Make sure you’re meeting with your team and partner periodically, and talking about your individual projects in a group – that way, even independent work can feel collaborative.
If your partner is a social learner, make sure they feel like you’re engaged in their projects and present them with adequately enthusiastic feedback or constructive criticism. If it does not come naturally to you, consider if they need their own team, or if you’re willing to meet your partner halfway for occasional meetings or feedback on their work.
Solitary learners thrive on independent work and self-study, and prefer quiet environments where they can read, write and reflect on their own. This method of learning has its benefits, as it is sustainable and doesn’t depend on multiple people (and managing schedules), but can be a problem if surroundings are not conducive to self-study. If you’re a solitary learner, make sure your office leaves room for the space you need in order to feel comfortable. A big, shared office space might be detrimental to your productivity.
If you’re partnered with a solitary learner, make sure you allow them the space and alone time they need in order to thrive. If you’re a social learner and default to team projects and group work, keep their needs in mind when you schedule activities and meetings.
Verbal learners tend to retain information that is given to them through language, be it written or spoken. They might have a harder time with visual-only explanations, such as diagrams. If you’re a verbal learner, you might find yourself writing notes, explaining concepts verbally or leaning on language in other ways. In a business setting, you benefit from engaging with your business partner or coworkers with speech, and communicating ideas with language.
If you’re partnered with someone who is a verbal learner, make sure to integrate language into explanations – do not solely rely on visual diagrams, numbers or graphs. Try to explain concept ideas in detail, and put effort into making your communication as clear as possible. Be careful about using ambiguous language.
Logical learners tend to understand the world through structure, patterns and reasoning. If you’re a logical learner, you might like to analyze information, search for cause and effect, use deductive reasoning, and critical thinking. Logical learners benefit from information that is presented to them in a clear and structured way, where they can see the patterns and systems at play. In a business environment, these learners tend to gravitate toward non-abstract problem-solving, and number-related careers.
If you’re partnered with a logical learner, it will be easier to communicate with concrete information given in a systematic or structured way. Spreadsheets, graphs and numbers will be your best friends – use them! If your business deals more in the abstract, you can use patterns and logical thinking to help your partner understand concepts better.
In conclusion, navigating your cofounder’s learning style is pivotal for effective collaboration in business. Recognizing visual, kinesthetic, aural, social, solitary, verbal, and logical preferences allows tailored communication. For visual learners, utilize presentations; for kinesthetic, encourage hands-on activities. Aural learners benefit from auditory information, while social learners thrive in group settings. Solitary learners excel independently, requiring consideration in scheduling. Verbal learners rely on language, emphasizing clear communication, and logical learners prefer structured information, making tools like spreadsheets essential. Adapting to these styles enhances daily interactions and problem-solving, fostering a harmonious and productive business partnership. In the diverse landscape of entrepreneurship, understanding and leveraging learning styles prove invaluable for shared success.