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Representational systems

NLP attaches great importance to non-verbal communication because non-verbal signals tells us something about what someone is currently experiencing. Our memory is a wonderful computer. Everything we have ever seen, heard, felt, tasted and smelled is stored. In our mind many experiences fade and we can not remember everything, but it turns out that our subconscious stores everything that we experience. For example, under hypnosis people can again recall detailed experiences.

Every experience we have is a combination of sensory impressions. This applies to –for example- the studying of a mathematics lesson, walking along the beach, sculpting a statue or reading a book. Without our senses we can not experience. Through our senses we experience this world, we learn and manage. Past experiences are obtainable to us by calling up the various storage places in our memory. Everything we've ever seen, lies in our visual memory. Everything we've ever heard, lies in our auditory memory, and everything we have ever felt, lies in our kinesthetic memory.

Watching a movie (visually), often arouses feelings (kinesthetic). These feelings are largely caused by the sounds, voices, music and even the silence (auditory). People usually have a preference for one of these three senses when registering an experience.

When one thinks back to this situation, it appears that one usually recalls the easiest of the three sensory representations. This sensory representation is called the preferred representation system.


Bandler and Grinder  discovered that there is a connection between the preferred sensory system and the words and phrases that people use. If people talk about their experiences, emotions or fantasies some often use phrases and expressions that indicate "see, hear and feel. Everyone has elements of all three forms, but most people have a system that dominates.

The person who is more visual will use words like look, see, vision, staring, apparently, foggy, shiny, brightly, etc. The person will for example use phrases such as: "in blind faith", "the answers are vague" and "that looks good".

Others use more words and phrases that indicate hearing, sound, listen, etc. People with this auditory preference system use words such as: questions, speak, talk, noise, clicks, loud, buzzing, etc. Expressions used in an auditory preference system adaptable for example: "be fooled", "you say to yourself," "it tells me nothing", "in a word" and "suddenly clicked".

Still others impose far more a certain connotation in their words and statements, they often use words such as feel, touch, experience, touch, pinch, turning, deploy, flip, pressure, feeling, sad, etc. Expressions belonging to a kinesthetic preferred system are "heavy on the stomach", "trying to get hold", "a strong disagreement" and "hold your heart".

Preferred representational systems

Visual (V)

People with a visual preference often stand or sit with their heads and their eyes pointing upwards. They breathe from the upper part of their lungs. They often sit forward in their seats and are usually well organized, caring people. They memorize by seeing pictures and are less easily distracted by noise. Often they find it not easy to remember verbal instructions because their minds tend to wander. Appearance is important to them.

Visually oriented people are interested in your proposal if it LOOKS good..

Auditory Tonal (At)

People with a auditory tonal preference often move their eyes (horizontal) sideways. They breathe from the middle of the chest. A characteristic feature is that they are often talking to themselves and that they are easily distracted by noise (some even move their lips while they speak to themselves). They can easily repeat auditory information, learn by listening and normally love music and talking on the phone. Auditory set people like to be TOLD that they are doing well and are sensitive to the tone of voice.

Auditory minded people are interested in your proposal if it SOUNDS good.

Kinesthetic (K)

A characteristic feature of people with a kinesthetic preference is that they breathe from the bottom part of their lungs and you can see their abdomen move during breathing. They often move and speak slowly. They are sensitive to physical rewards such as a pat on the shoulder, etc. They are also closer to people than eg visually oriented people. They remember by doing something or wandering somewhere.

Kinesthetic people are interested in your proposal if it FEELS good..

Auditory Digital (Ad)

People with a Auditory Digital preference talk pretty much to themselves. They remember and recall things through certain steps, procedures or sequences. They can also display characteristics of the other representation systems.

Auditory Digitally minded people are interested in your proposal if it is CORRECT.

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