How do you learn stuff? Sense-Based Modalities

Cindy JobsOrganization, Uncategorized

I recently completed a year-long Coaching curriculum (I’m so excited!).  One of the things that resonated most with me was an in-depth study of how we each individually learn things and interpret our environments (learning modalities).

Denslow Brown, Master Certified Coach, breaks down learning modalities as follows:

Sense-based modalities:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic
  • Tactile
  • Taste/Smell

Other significant ways people process information and interact with their surroundings:

  • Verbal (language)
  • Emotional
  • Cognitive
  • Intuitive

Each of us probably use all of these modalities at different times.  Each of these modalities can be strong or weak within each individual, and can present as hypo-sensitive or hyper-sensitive.

Personally, I found myself to be very strong in visual, kinesthetic, and verbal modalities.  This partially explains why I’m pretty good with finding lost golf balls; why I have to be moving all the time; and the fact that I love to talk!

During this post, I’ll just give you a basic understanding of the sense-based modalities. The others will be covered next week.

Visual: How our eyes see things and our brain’s process the information.

Weak to strong indicators:  If someone has a visual impairment or their brain doesn’t process visual cues (can’t “see” something that’s right in front of them), this modality may be weak for them.  Alternatively, someone may present as strong in this modality if they can discern slight variations in visual cues (think artists, architects, etc.).

Auditory: How we hear and process through the brain’s auditory and language centers.

Weak to strong indicators:  Like the visual modality, an auditory weakness can be based on a physical impairment or auditory processing problems.  Conversely, someone who is strong in this modality will be able to excel in areas like music, interviewing, and psychotherapy where careful listening is required.

Kinesthetic (one of my favorites):  Moving and engaging the body and how the body interacts with space.

Weak to strong indicators: Limited use of this modality may be caused by injury or age-related conditions causing diminished muscle control and lack of coordination.  Strong kinesthetic modality will present in those that use their bodies with precision, like athletes, performance artists, etc.

Tactile: How things feel as experienced through the skin, hands, feet and tongue.

Weak to strong indicators: A person weak in this modality may have difficulty differentiating between textures, feeling hot vs cold, etc.  Alternatively, those strong in this modality will tend to be those with very refined touch abilities like surgeons, massage therapists, etc.

Taste/Smell: Responding to odor or taste through the nose, mouth, and the olfactory center of the brain.

Weak to strong indicators:  Aging and medical conditions may be the cause of missing or distorted abilities in this area.  Those strong in this modality would present in occupations such as chef, sommelier, etc.

Taking a closer look at how my family, friends, and clients learned things and interpret the world around them changed how I communicate.  For example because I’m very kinesthetic (as are some of my clients), if there is a crucial conversation that needs to take place, we will have the conversation while on a walk.  Not only does it feel good, the information is processed more effectively!

If this small bit of information has you curious, you may be interested in getting a copy of Denslow Brown’s Modalities Guide

Note:  If you, or someone you know, could benefit from Life/ADHD coaching, please contact me.  My passion is working with people to help them become the vision of who they want to be!

Cindy Jobs

Organize to Simplify CMYK





National Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Area Chapter President





Institute for Challenging Disorganization, Six Certificates of Education

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