Communicate Better with Family, Friends & Colleagues.

Communicate Better with Family, Friends & Colleagues.


Have you ever been in a conversation where you knew the other person just wasn’t getting it?

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!)

Everyone thinks differently.

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.

How do you think?

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.

The Visual Person

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

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?


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The Kinesthetic Person

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

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?

What’s your preference?

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.

Practical tips.

  • Look out for signs of different thinking styles from you.
  • If you get frustrated or cannot communicate with someone that’s a flag to notice how they are different from you.
  • Consciously use the words from their representation style.
  • Match your voice tone and tempo to theirs.
  • If they are more visual, draw it out, make pictures or describe how things look.
  • If they are more kinesthetic, touch them, show them and walk them through it.
  • If they are more auditory, tell them on the phone or in person.
  • If they are more auditory digital send them a procedure list, stick to the data & logical steps.

Join the conversation.

As you read this, what aha’s have you had?
What can you take away to communicate better with those close to you?

Comments (10)

    • Hey Carolina! No online programs as yet. Though I could teach you more in my one on one sessions and remove any blocks that are preventing you communicating well. Now you’ve got me thinking about creating a program for this. Stay tuned. Thanks! Kylie x

  1. Whilst reading the different communication types, I was thinking … it sounds familiar, but it doesn’t really descibe me … until I reached The Auditory Digital Person type – which out of the four, resonated a little more than the other three.

    Great article (yet again). You’re consistantly challenging and educating me with these insightful contributions. I’m genuinely pleased that I stumbled across your profile via Mark Rowlands.

    • Thanks Robert, I’m glad you’re enjoying my articles and posts. If none of them really describe you perfectly, and yet all seem familiar, you are probably relatively balanced across the types, which is a great thing, because you can easily be flexible with your communication.

  2. Heya – read this last week and have just read again. You know something interesting – having tested my son with think of a beach…. his response being completely kinesthetic – all about the feeling of sand between his feet and water as the waves reach him – my response a picture of bright yellow sand, crystal dark blue water and deep blue sky – It never occured to me that if I said beach EVERYONE didn’t picture a beach in their mind. I just assumed EVERYONE pictured a beach… really interesting.

    • I know, that’s the funny thing. We all just assume that people think in the same way to us because that’s how we think. It’s really interesting to find out that everyone codes, thinks and remembers everything differently.

  3. Pingback: Are you speaking the same language? ‹ Entity Solutions Blog

  4. What should a person do as he/ she is identified as an Auditory Digital Person? What are practical tips for him/ her to make him/ her to be more successful?

    • Yes. For an ID person the best advice is to identify the primary rep system of loved ones and friends, and make a conscious effort to learn the ways of translating your natural way of speaking into their “code”.

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