Representational Systems

Olfactory System Processing

The olfactory system or our sense of smell is one of the five major Representational Systems. It is rare to use olfactory processing as a primary preference in the modern world. Our sense of smell was probably more valuable in our cave person days.

This system doesn’t seem to be as developed in humans as other animals, or as useful in building maps. For instance, my dog on his walk seems to be creating an amazing smell scape that I could never hope to copy.

Both the olfactory and the gustatory system are strongly connected. The taste of foods is vitally dependent on our sense of smell, even though they involve different channels. NLP often combines them as one component in NLP Modeling for instance.

Consider what disgust is based on. It is a gustatory reaction to an offensive odor – even a metaphorical one.

Out of Conscious Awareness

Few people in Western culture have a well-developed olfactory sense. Perfumers, wine tasters can recognize many different aspects of smell in their products. Mostly, we notice and process aromas unconsciously.

Our olfactory system can act as a warning (smell of smoke or rotten food). Pleasant or unpleasant smells can trigger certain moods without us having any awareness. Pheromones can powerfully arouse us or lead us astray.

nlp olfactory systemAnchoring

Because it is a very primitive system, it can be a very powerful anchor. That delicious aroma of hot apple pie can take us straight back to being five years old.

Olfactory Words

Words that may indicate olfactory processing are:

Odor, aroma, perfume, fragrance, stink, “I smell a rat”, stench, rotten, “his idea stinks” sniff, fragrance, scent, whiff, smelly, noxious.

Olfactory Clues

Other clues that someone may be processing using her sense of smell are:

  • The person may flare their nostrils and/or raise their chin.
  • Breathing patterns and speech are similar to the kinesthetic system.

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