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Should you read, listen or observe?

Know your favorite way to digest data

by on
in Workplace Communication

Abig part of managing people is retaining the information you’re fed all day. By remembering key facts, you increase your understanding.

To boost how much knowledge you can absorb, identify how you learn best. For example, you may prefer to hear employees talk to you, show you what they mean or write it down. It depends on whether your mind works best when you’re listening, observing or reading.

In collecting information, many managers are reactive. Instead of asking to receive data in a certain way—orally, in a memo or through a demonstration— they make do with whatever communication the sender chooses.

Here’s how to discover your preferred learning style:

Listeners have a high tolerance for silence in conversation. They’re able to concentrate fully on a speaker; they fend off daydreams and distractions.

If you’re a careful listener, encourage people to initiate face-to-face chats with you. When you receive a memo, ask the author to come discuss it. Also, hold debriefing sessions with your team after you’ve all read an important document.

Readers prefer to process information on their own. They know that reading is the fastest way to take in facts and ideas. When they can review a written report, they feel more grounded.

Think about whether you find it more rewarding to absorb information when you’re alone reading or exchanging ideas in a meeting. If you love to read, ask for information in writing.

Observers like to see something demonstrated to let it sink in. When they see how something works, they make connections and draw stronger conclusions. Watching an action unfold is their key to comprehension.

If you learn more when you can observe a process, such as inspecting an assembly line, then you should arrange to be shown experiments, tests and demonstrations.

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