Why Introverts are faster learners

Introverts illustration

“Please speak up…”

“Why don’t you share your thoughts with the group?…”

“Don’t isolate yourself from others…”

Sound familiar?

Whether you’re learning a new language, or going through training at your workplace or school, we are either taught to collaborate or fail.

But is this really the best way to learn?

While cooperative learning serves a purpose in the learning process, studies show that it is silence, not collaboration, that foster accelerated learning.

In today’s article, I will share why silence can lead to accelerated learning and why introverts are faster learners.

Before we proceed, we should understand the cost of avoiding silence…

The cost of distraction

One of the biggest downsides of group learning is that you’re only able to learn as fast as the slowest learner in the group. This is something that most of us have personally experienced in classrooms or group training sessions.

But the bigger cost is something that few people talk about: the hidden cost of distraction.

According to Gloria Mark, Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine, upon being distracted during a task at hand, it takes us 23 minutes and 15 seconds on average to regain our focus.

While most of us are able to control ourselves to internally focus on a task at hand, certain elements like external distractions, are out of our hands.

This hidden cost of distraction can be more severe for those of us who are introverted. As Susan Cain quotes in her famous TED Talk, introverts simply “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments.” This is why while some people thrive in group social interactions for long periods of time, it can be an exhausting experience for others.

It’s important to analyze which method is more suited to your personality, because choosing the wrong one can detriment not only your learning experience, but your inner morale.

A study done at Grizzly Academy showed that students who struggled to succeed in the classroom due to their introverted tendencies demonstrated significant improvements only by changing their learning environment.

By adopting a more autonomous approach to learning, we can leverage one of the biggest advantages that introverts have to accelerated learning — self-reflection.

The power of reflection

When we want to improve the growth of our business, we track our data to reflect on our performance.

When we want to lose weight, we track our workouts and eating habits to reflect on our performance.

Learning is no different. Reflection is an essential process to retaining information in our brain, and to avoid making previous mistakes.

According to a study done at Harvard Business School, reflection leads to accelerated learning because the link between learning-by-thinking and greater performance is explained by self-efficacy, or a personal evaluation of one’s capabilities to organize and execute courses of action to attain designated goals

In a random sample of 202 people, each were given an online creativity test. One group of test-takers were instructed to reflect on a pre-test, writing down any strategies they thought might be helpful for the next test. Another group was told to also write down their thoughts and strategies, with the caveat that their notes would be shared with others. The final group was given no instructions for rumination.

In the end, both of the groups that were tasked with thinking about the pre-test performed significantly better than the group that did not spend any time thinking about the tasks at hand.

How to apply this to accelerated learning
It’s one thing to understand the importance of silence, it’s another to apply it in your life.

To help you get started, we’ve collected a few tactics that you can apply immediately:

1. Block out interruption-free times

Using a calendar to intentionally block off distraction-free periods in your schedule is one of the most effective ways to have more silence during your days.

The CEO of Linkedin, Jeff Weiner, lives by this rule to simply just sit and think. According to Weiner, it’s “the single most productive tool [he] uses” to connect the dots and synthesize information.

2. Batch interaction times

Batching doesn’t just need to categorized towards repetitive tasks, like emails and phone calls, but it can apply towards interaction times. As we mentioned, the hidden cost of distraction is high. Instead of being distracted multiple times throughout the day, we can block off a specific period of the day to engage in social interactions.

3. Have daily check-ins

The more frequently we reflect on our process, the faster we can optimize our progress.

This can often be achieved by integrating a daily (or weekly) check-in with yourself or someone that keeps you accountable (i.e. coach, teacher, advisor) to reflect on your goals, how you feel, and ultimately what you’re working towards.

We personally use a daily journal called the five minute journal, which we recommend on our post here.

Often, the greatest improvements can come from small changes.

If you’re an introverted learner, we encourage you to explore your current learning environment, and make the necessary changes to adopt more silence into your learning process.

It’s rarely our inner talents or abilities that stand in the way of our success, but the method itself.

Cheers.
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