By Monika Nygaard, 
Published in Nanaimo Harbour City Star, August/99

Communication skills, whether used in business along with team building, or in a relationship, has a lot to do with internal unconscious processes. NLP discovered a number of these processes. This article outlines some NLP communication skills that it has become well known for that result in better rapport and understanding.

Ever wonder why you feel an instant rapport with some people and not with others?  One reason is our communication style.  How we take external information in from this world is through our senses:  what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell.  We also generate internal images, sounds and feelings and use a fourth system called the auditory digital system which is thinking things through and making sense out of things.

An interesting thing John Grinder and Richard Bandler - co-founders of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) - discovered is that most people generally tend to favour one or two of these systems over the others, just like some people are right handed and some are left handed.  We all use all of the systems and can use different ones in different contexts, but we do tend to favour one or two most of the time.

Thus some people tend to be more visual, using words such as picture this, let’s see what happens, can we look at this and focus on it.  Visual people tend to breathe shallow, hold their bodies erect and with their eyes up.  They tend to speak very rapidly because a picture is worth a thousand words and their voice is trying to keep us with their internal images.  They also tend to be neat and well organized.

Auditory people breathe from the middle of their chest.  Their eyes tend to move from side to side and sometimes they cock their head to one side as if they are listening intently.  They learn by listening and love to talk.  They are sensitive to peoples’ tone of voice but may be tone deaf to their own.  They use words like that sounds good, I hear what you’re saying, let’s tune into this and really discuss it.  Their voices are often melodious and pleasing.

 Kinesthetic people typically breathe from the bottom of their lungs and often move and talk more slowly.  They may like to lean forward or stand close or touch people when talking or listening.  Their eyes may often move downward and to their right (that’s where “that down right good feeling” came from).  They tend to use words such as that feels right, I can grasp that and feel connected, let’s get in touch with what that means.

Auditory digital people often talk to themselves and spend a lot of time making sense out of things.  They like to do things in sequence and will study things in great depth.  These people may not respond so much to what they see, hear and feel as to the labels they give these perceptions.  They tend to not trust their basic experiences - they trust the words that describe their experiences instead.  This gives them their cautious look as they look for the perfect description.  They use words from all the categories but the two they use more are, “that makes sense” and “I know what you mean”.  They also will use more neutral words like think, decide, process, and understand.  They will often look down and to the left.

Noticing which system a person uses and then matching our words, speed of voice, breathing, etc., to that same system, will make the other person feel like you are “speaking their language” because your message more closely matches the way their mind works and increases understanding.  It gives you the ability to go more fully from your map of the world to their map of the world.  The fascinating study of the different ways people internalize information can help you build more successful communication and responsiveness.

Monika Nygaard is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Trainer, Time Line Therapy® Master Trainer and Hypnotherapy Trainer. She can be reached at nlp4change@shaw.ca
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