I’ll never forget the time one of my authorities (falsely) accused me of being rebellious. She had just rattled off a stream of qualifications for how I was supposed to present a request. The timing was mind-boggling, at least to me. I think I had to turn in a form the morning of the last Thursday before the second Monday of the month, unless it was an odd-numbered month, in which case — You get the idea.
My mind was spinning, and I knew I couldn’t get it straight — no less remember it for next month, unless I could see it on paper. “Can I get that in writing?” I asked. That’s when she accused me of questioning her authority. I really wasn’t: I was just admitting, in my own way, that I needed to see the details in order to be able to fulfill them; I’m a visual learner.
Learning Style Basics
In retrospect, I could have been more diplomatic in my request, but the fact is that I only knew to make the request because I was mature and educated enough to realize what I needed personally in order to hope to meet my responsibilities. Most teens aren’t there yet — and, too often, neither are their parents. Most of us tend to think the way we do and function the way we do, assuming everyone else processes information the same way — especially our kids. After all, they have the same genes, right?
The fact is that there are three different basic learning styles, and depending on your son or daughter’s dominant one, you can communicate more effectively by appealing to it. In addition, the more ways anyone is presented with information, the more likely it is to be received and understood.
Remembering the Goal
Even if you personally favor a certain method of communication, remember that actual communication is the goal.
For instance, if your teen states that he prefers to get a text or an e-mail to remind him about a responsibility, when you’d rather call him or shout down the hall, deferring to his preferences will likely yield a better result.
Insisting on communicating your expectations in your preferred manner of communication will only come across as self-serving, and communication breakdown will be the most likely result. Your relationship will probably suffer, too, and unnecessarily.
Appealing to Auditory Learners
As you might guess, auditory learners rely heavily on hearing something in order to process it. So a detailed diagram or reading assignment in school might not be nearly as helpful as actually hearing the lecture — or reading the text aloud. On the home front, you should know that if your son or daughter is an auditory learner, hearing your instructions or expectations is significant, as is repeating them back to you.
Distracting sounds can affect how effective communication is, as well. Loving, life-giving spoken words will speak volumes, as will negative verbal communication— including things they overhear. For the auditory learner, hearing what’s important will be key.