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How Do You Make Sense Of The World?

Have you ever stopped to think about how YOU make sense of the/your world?

We all experience things differently – as they teach in NLP, the map is not the territory – and we experience ourselves and the world through FIVE key senses/modalities:

  1. Seeing
  2. Hearing
  3. Feeling
  4. Tasting
  5. Smelling

When we experience something externally, we then re-present it to ourselves internally for processing which is how/when we attach emotions, meaning and insight to what we’ve experienced.

This explains “The map is not the territory” since the reality of what we’ve experienced externally may be very different to our perception of that reality once we’ve re-presented it to ourselves and processed it internally. Thus the reality of what actually happens at a particular event will be experienced by everyone there in entirely different ways.

You can start to notice how you experience and re-present experiences and events to yourself by paying attention to the language you use when describing it.

The following words/phrases are commonly used in each representational system:

Visual (see):

  • See
  • Examine
  • Clarity
  • Hindsight
  • An eyeful
  • Mental image
  • Eye to eye
  • Hazy idea
  • Mind’s eye
  • Sight for sore eyes
  • Tunnel vision
  • Make a scene
  • Take a peek
  • Up front

Auditory (hear):

  • Say
  • Sounds like
  • Mention
  • Discuss
  • Voice
  • Earful
  • Keynote speaker
  • Outspoken
  • Utterly
  • Tuned in
  • Word for word
  • Rings a bell
  • To tell the truth

Kinesthetic (feel/do):

  • Affected
  • Emotional
  • Feel
  • Grasp
  • Intuition
  • Panicky
  • Tension
  • Touch
  • Get to grips with
  • Get a load of this
  • Lay cards on the table
  • Start from scratch
  • Slipped my mind
  • Boils down to
  • Get in touch with
  • Hold on!
  • Moment of panic

Olfactory (smell) & Gustatory (taste):

  • Aroma
  • Smell
  • Essence
  • Sweet
  • Stinks
  • Burnt
  • Flat
  • Sharp
  • Tasty

Start to pay attention to the language you use when you’re describing something or in every day speech, and you’ll begin to notice which representational systems you use most frequently.

Notice this for others too, and you’ll begin to build the foundational skills for building more rapport, having more influence and communicating more effectively by matching their systems when you talk to them.

If you’d like to explore more themes like this, why not join the next group of The Game-Changer Experience →