Representational Systems

Representational Systems

visualauditorykinestheticolfactorygustatoryauditory-digital-tnRepresentational systems are our internal senses. We “re-present” what we experience on the outside on our internal mental screen. Our external senses (our seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting) match our internal senses.How is it possible that five people can go to the very same party and recall it in five different ways?

Knowing how people are thinking.Have you ever noticed some people don’t see things the way you do? Have you ever not been “on the same wavelength” as someone? Have you ever felt someone just didn’t connect with you?

While we can’t know what people are thinking we can know whether they are paying attention to what they are seeing feeling hearing smelling or tasting. There are three ways to do this.

  • The first is noticing their eye patterns.
  • The second is by listening to the words they use. Visual words are like see, look. Auditory words are like hear, listen. Kinesthetic words are like feel, touch. Gustatory words are like eat, taste. Olfactory words are like aroma, smell.
  • The third is by attending to body language and physiology such as breathing patterns and muscle tension.

Improving communication

The words someone says shows the internal senses they are using, how they are thinking. If you know what system a person is using, you can present your message in a way they understand. Using words from the same rep system creates rapport.

Problems and resources

Someone who has a strong preference for a particular system can become stuck. The more ways we can think about a problem or a situation, the more available resources we have. Sometimes problems result because we don’t use the resources from other representational systems. For instance, feelings can so overwhelm a person that they can’t step back and look at the situation objectively. Alternatively, someone may be only seeing the surface of things and trying to make a decision without using their feelings.

Why people use the words they do.

The situation often determines which representation system we use. For instance in an art gallery we use more of our visual senses. At a music concert, we use more of our auditory senses. Most people use words from all the systems. We develop preferences. There is no such thing as a visual or a kinesthetic person. We do tend to develop preferences and it shows in lots of ways.

Types of Processing

There are five basic ways to process sensory information.

Additionally, Auditory Digital Processing is the processing of sensory information. It is usually included as a representational system.

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