Having conversations with yourself can actually help you learn

May 8, 2017

If you even caught yourself talking out loud, to no one, don’t be embarrassed. Because having conversations with yourself can actually help you learn. Which is great, because who doesn’t want to be smarter?

George Hoyningen-Huene/Condé Nast via Getty Images

If you even caught yourself talking out loud, to no one, don’t be embarrassed. Because having conversations with yourself can actually help you learn. Which is great, because who doesn’t want to be smarter?

The Harvard Business Review explains why this works. In brief, teaching others helps people get a better grasp on a subject. By talking to yourself, you’re basically talking through your actions and learning faster. In a way, you’re teaching yourself! While this may seem like a silly notion, University of Illinois psychologist Brian Ross would argue it makes perfect sense. Hey, you can always try it out and drop it if it doesn’t work! So start talking to yourself.

Brian’s techniques, explained.

Brian felt like he was at a disadvantage when he enrolled in a new class. He was a decade older than the other students and thought that he would fall behind. Luckily, he knew about a “learning strategy known as self-explaining” — aka talking to yourself.

He would constantly query himself as he read through the assigned texts. After each paragraph, after each sentence, he would ask himself: “What did I just read? How does that fit together? Have I come across this idea before?”

It may seem a little strange to others, but Brain Ross found that this technique helped catch him up to the other students. In fact, he could answer some questions others couldn’t!

How you can use these techniques.

Having conversations with yourself isn’t enough to get you ahead. You need to use the following techniques together for the best results: talking to yourself, asking yourself questions, summarizing what you’ve learned, and making connections to a bigger picture. By using all of these techniques together, you can maximize how much information you retain!

 Self-explaining should go into the learning tool kit of workers today.

So if you want to get ahead, start talking to yourself, and do not be afraid to look a little silly.

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