I’ll begin diving into the topic of the Brain Personality Connection by focusing on communication styles/sensory preferences. It is also referred to in the education world as learning styles, and, for those who will be reaching out to and coaching educators, this will be of extreme importance to know. Of all the facets of the brain personality connection, this one is the most well-known. For quite some time, people have been aware of the sensory modalities; forward thinking scholastic programs and employers have paid attention to this when working with their students and employees. It is believed that most people have a dominant sense. It is a basic part of our personality and understanding this aspect alone can improve communication dramatically.
It is vitally important that you please always remember that, as I am discussing the different communication styles, at no time am I ever implying that one is superior or inferior to any of the others; they are just simply different. Also, keep in mind there is bell curve of distribution. When discussing the traits that each personality might display, it does not mean that it applies to 100% of the people 100% of the time. We are talking about most of the people that the traits will apply to around 70% of the time. There will always be exceptions to the rules; other Brain Personality Connection factors my override what is common to the different styles. For example: I will say that one of the traits you will see in an auditory brain is that they love to talk, talk, and talk. However, you may have a male (in general, men don’t talk as much as women) introvert that grew up in a family where children were to be seen and not heard. Therefore, he may not talk very much at all. His other brain personality traits and his nurture override his innate sensory preference. So, try not to get stuck on the few things that don’t appear to fit. Stay focused on the big picture.
It is clear that we all use all of our senses (unless sensory impaired) to process information. However, we tend to have one in which our brain processes information most efficiently and effectively. Usually, early in life, by around the age of 5-6, our brains may begin to pick one of the main sensory systems as its preferred system. I like to illustrate it this way: You were born in your home country with its own native tongue. As you grow, communicating in your home language becomes natural to you. At some point in your life, you may decide to take up a foreign language. Some people struggle and others can become quite fluent. But, in the end, what is the language that you know best? What will always be easiest to communicate in? The one you were raised with, right? It is the same with the different communication styles. Your brain has a “native” way of communicating that it just processes information better in. You will also find individuals who, like learning a different language, can master more than one sensory style. It could be that their environment growing up gave their brain the input to gain a better proficiency in more than one style; determining their “innate” preference may be more challenging. If they are good at communicating on all three styles, great! That just means they might tend to pick up on more incoming information than most.
Benefits of Fully Understanding Communication Style/Sensory Preferences
Understanding which of the styles your brain likes best will help you to be aware of information that you might miss. It can also help you to prepare your brain if you know that you are going into a situation where you will have to use your non-preferred style. For example: suppose you are a visual learner and you have to go listen to a lecture. You know that your brain will want to ‘check out’ very quickly; you will have to prepare yourself. You can do this by making sure that you have the supplies to take notes in a visual manner. Mind mapping (I will explain in a later unit), for example, is a great way for any brain to retain information better-especially the visual brain. As you are taking notes, draw pictures that will connect all of that auditory information and your visual brain will be happier.
For the brains that prefer the kinesthetic method of communication, understanding your brain’s needs is crucial in preparing for any intense learning situation. As you will learn, comfort is very important for everyone’s brain to process, even more so for the kinesthetic brain. So, these brains need to make sure they bring with them items that will aid in their physical comfort. More importantly, they need to be confident in doing whatever they need to do to be comfortable and make their brain happy: standing, walking, bringing a seat cushion, manipulatives, whatever they need.
Another great benefit to acquiring this information is that it will immensely improve your communication skills with others. Whether it is a personal or professional relationship, gaining an understanding of these styles will improve your ability to deliver your message, as well as receive theirs.
A third benefit of being educated on these styles is that you will increase your understanding of others and their unique individual personalities. It will help you to look at others in a new light. You may start to see that misunderstandings are due to not sending the information in the style of your listener, or that you received information in a way that your brain didn’t fully process. You will find that making adjustments in the way you present information, so that it matches the brain of the receiver, will dramatically improve communication.
An equally important benefit is that you will gain a better understanding of yourself. So often, people find that they beat themselves up emotionally when they miss information or don’t get a message that was sent to them. This can lead to great frustration and a whole host of negative feelings. With awareness, you are able to validate your own innate brain strengths. This leads to truly owning your gifts with positive emotions, and that’s a good thing.
Probably one of the greatest benefits from learning this information, and all of the facets of the BPC, is that it aids in healing past woundedness. So many individuals have been punished, degraded, or downright abused for their natural gifts. This can lead to thinking they lack in something, they’re stupid, talk too much, and so on.
It is interesting to note that some may begin to show their preference very early on in life. It is thought by some experts that when you see a fetus sucking their thumb in uterus it may be a good indicator that they are kinesthetic.
In general, there are three main styles or modalities: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic. I will be going through the BPC of each of these in detail. At the end of this section you will find one simple and one comprehensive communication style assessment. You can use these to identify your preference and the preference of your clients. I offer the simple one as a free fun download on my website and encourage you to do the same. The comprehensive one I use when working with clients or in my workshops.
 Your Brain Has a Bent (Not a Dent!) page 104, Arlene R. Taylor, PhD and W. Eugene Brewer, PhD