Relationships are such a a crucial part of our lives, and it often causes pain, anger, frustration and hurt when we feel that we are not being heard or understood.
Though if you find that you are misunderstood, then you are probably misunderstanding others too. To be truly heard, first you must listen.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
– Steven R. Covey
There are some simple NLP communication skills I can teach you in this article that will help you to understand others and learn to communicate with everyone better, (especially those people who frustrate the hell out of you!)
First you need to realise that not everyone thinks like you. Kind of obvious right? But this goes waay deeper than we realise. No single human being is exactly the same as another. There are as many different ways of thinking as there are fingerprints.
Here is just ONE way that we can differ from each other in our thinking patterns. When you know these different thinking preferences then you can adapt and adjust your communication to ensure that the other person really understands what you are saying.
In Meta-Coaching and NLP we call different thinking patterns, styles or preferences Meta-Programs. These are the tendencies that are your operating programs. Very simply it’s kind of like if you’re a Windows or a Mac.
So far, there are 76 different meta-program tendencies that have been studied and mapped. I’ll teach you about the first one today – Your internal representation style or learning preference. This is how you represent ideas, thoughts and feelings to yourself in your own mind.
There are 4 different options for this, and everyone has elements of all of them, and most people naturally prefer one or two over the rest. People who have different preferences sometimes have difficulties communicating, almost like they are talking a different language!
You can think in pictures, sounds, feelings, or information. The 4 styles are Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, or Auditory Digital.
People who think visually memorise things by seeing pictures and get less distracted by noise. They may have trouble remembering long verbal instructions because their mind may wander. They understand things quickly when they can picture it in their minds. They may talk quickly. They are interested in how things look and often will be a sharp and stylish dresser (they will choose style over comfort). You can tell a visual person because they will use visual words in their speech like: see, looks, appear, view, show me, dawn, reveal, imagine, illuminate, crystal clear. Get the picture?
The Auditory person is easily distracted by noises, they learn easily with verbal instructions and may be able to repeat things back word for word. They like to learn by listening to cd’s or audios. They also like to talk on the phone. Tone of voice and words used are important to an auditory person. They can pick up subtleties of language and music easily. They will use words like: can you hear, that sounds good, listen, make music, tune in, be all ears, that rings a bell, it resonates. How does that sound?
The Kinesthetic person memorizes things by walking it through or practicing, they are excellent with their hands and make things really well. Sometimes they may be mistaken for slow by some of the other types because they may talk slowly and don’t respond well to pictures or verbal instructions. They may not even hear their name called when they are engaged in a task, to get their attention you may need to go and physically touch them. Kinesthetic people mostly buy clothes for comfort first. Kinesthetic learners sometimes suffer in a traditional school environment which favours visual & auditory learning styles. (If you are kinesthetic and struggled in every class except woodwork or home ec, you are smart! You just think differently to some other people.) Kinesthetics have strong intuition and make decisions with their gut feeling. You will know a kinesthetic person by their comfortable dress and when they say: feel, touch, grasp, get a hold of, slips through, catch on, tap into, concrete, solid. Do you have a handle on it?
The Auditory Digital person can sometimes be difficult to pick as they may show signs from all the other systems. They prefer working with information and data. They memorize by creating or learning steps, systems and procedures. They may sometimes struggle to interact socially and come across as dogmatic about their ideas because they are so logic driven and can find it difficult to understand anybody who is not. The very stereotypical example is a computer programmer. You will know an auditory digital person when they say things like: sense, understand, think, learn, process, decide, consider, change, perceive, insensitive, conceive, distinct, know. Does that make sense?
As you read these descriptions, you may immediately notice yourself in one or two of the styles or think of friends and family too. The key with this is to remember that we all have the ability to think in ALL of these ways, most people just have one (sometimes two) that is our preference. Some people are balanced across all the types and can easily switch their thinking style depending on the task and situation. It’s not about putting people in boxes but rather improving understanding of how we think so we can be more tolerant and understanding of people who think differently to us.
The truth is, if you want to communicate with someone, it’s your job to say it in a way they can understand and ensure that they get it. It’s not their job to read your mind, and vice versa. If you notice someone has a different style to you, adapt your communication to meet their thinking.
As you read this, what aha’s have you had?
What can you take away to communicate better with those close to you?
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