Chances are if you see someone on the street talking to themselves, you are likely to believe that the person is not playing with a full deck. Talking to oneself in public may not be a good idea; however, if you want to improve your learning skills, doing so in private may not be a bad idea.
In today's world, the ability to continually learn and improve one's skill sets is essential to survival. The reason why talking to yourself in private is a good thing is because it helps you to retain more information and identify solutions to problems. According to Ulrich Boser in a recent HBR blog, "Self-talk helps us think about our thinking. When we're engaged in a conversation with ourselves, we typically ask ourselves questions along the lines of: 'How will I know what I know? What do I find confusing? Do I really know this?’”
Taking a step back after reading an article or listening to a podcast develops skills by focusing your thinking on thinking, Boser writes. It’s the concept of self-explaining and involves asking yourself numerous “why” questions. For example, if you are learning a new version of 2020 or other design software, you may ask yourself out loud, "Why does this process seem to take longer than it should? Why can’t we do X, Y or Z? Why do I find this aspect of the program so tricky?" When you ask why questions, you start searching for answers, which improves your ability to learn and retain information.
Summarizing is another effective tool to improve your learning skills. Imagine you just watched a great new film on Netflix and had to explain why you thought it was special to a friend. When you describe the film, it is more likely that you will gain a better understanding of what the movie was about and appreciate more of its nuances.
In the workplace, next time you guide a team member, ask them to repeat back to you the directive. This is a form of summarization, which makes it more likely that your team member will remember what you told them.