Learning styles

Learning is fundamental to self-improvement and for moving from your performance to your potential.

Honey and Mumford (1986) suggested that most people have a style of learning that is most effective for their character and personality.

The 4 learning styles that Honey and Mumford identified are:


Open minded people who involve themselves fully in a new experience. Highly sociable and keen for new experience, activists are relatively strong problem solvers, good at brainstorming and finding working solutions. They are weaker at implementation, process and sustained effort.


Thoughtful and cautious people who prefer to consider options and all of the implications before coming to a considered decision. Generally preferring a role as observer rather than become active in discussions.


Logical and process focused people who approach problems in a step-by-step fashion and prefer looking for coherent patterns or behaviours that can be mapped to accepted theory. These learners prefer to analyse situations and establish assumptions, principles and models. They are happier in a disciplined environment but uncomfortable with uncertainty, subjective opinion and radical thinking.


These people thrive on new ideas and look for the benefit and a practical application of new ideas. Problems are seen as a challenge but these learners become easily frustrated with endless discussion and inaction.

There are sites on the Internet that will help you identify your predominant learning style. Peter Honey’s own site is just one example.


SO why is this relevant?

Firstly, by identifying which learning style or styles you prefer, you can adopt an approach to learning that benefits from your strengths.

For example, my own style is that of Activist / Pragmatist. This means I am very happy to try new processes, ideas and techniques but will happily throw some of those away, favouring something that is effective and brings benefit.

Secondly, if you are responsible for staff, by identifying the preferred learning style of people in your team, you can present information in a fashion that is more easily absorbed. If you try to force a Reflector into activities favouring an Activist style, you will get resistance, conflict and very little commitment.

Finally, if you have a significant dominance in one learning style, you may want to consider developing a weaker area. This will allow you to increase the opportunities that you can learn from and allow you to more easily relate and communicate with those who have differing dominant learning styles. This will increase your behavioural flexibility.

One of the key presuppositions from NLP is:

In interactions among people, the person with most flexibility and variation of behaviour can control the outcome of the interaction.

So strive for that flexibility.

Dare to Aspire

Reference: Honey, P. and Mumford A. (1986). A Manual of Learning Styles, Peter Honey, Maidenhead


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Filed under Improvement, Models, Performance, Teams

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