By Linda Tancs

In the movie The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock’s character admonishes the coach, “You ought to get to know your players.” She was referring to the coach’s lack of recognition that one of his players tested in the 98th percentile for protective instincts, a key trait for someone acting in the role of an offensive tackle on the football field. In business, it’s equally as important to know how your team members learn so that you can lead them more effectively towards optimal performance. Individuals process information predominately in one of three ways: visually, in an auditory manner, or in a kinesthetic manner. Studies indicate that 90% of the population is oriented towards visual learning. Visual learners are aided by charts, pictures and written directions. Some research shows that those with a visual orientation tend to speak rapidly and use phrases such as “Do you see?” or “Get the picture?” when interacting with others. Those with an auditory orientation have been found to have a melodious quality to their voice and are apt to use phrases such as “Ring a bell?” or “Do you hear what I’m saying?” An auditory learner excels with verbal transmissions of information and instructions. Those with a kinesthetic orientation, on the other hand, process information more readily in a hands-on approach. Tactile learners have been found to favor phrases like “What’s your gut feeling?” or “Get a grip” and tend to speak slowly.

Knowing whether your team members function best by seeing, hearing or doing is a good first step in partnering with them to maximize their potential. Of course, it also enriches your own storehouse of wisdom and understanding, two characteristics that the Bible encourages us to cultivate. Listen and watch what others are trying to tell you. As James 1:19 (NLT) puts it, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” When you listen and pay attention to your colleagues you are blessing them and making them feel valued. That, in turn, increases your understanding of their needs and builds relationships by the way you interact. As Proverbs 16:21 (NLT) advises, “The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.”

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