Representational Systems

NLP Consultant to Business and Individuals

“When you’re learning about people’s strategies to understand how they make a decision, you MUST also to know their main representational system so you can present your message in a way that gets through”



The ‘HOW’ Of Our Thinking

Everyone structures their experience of the world through the five senses — seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. (For our purposes tasting and smelling will be classified under the feeling, or kinesthetic category.) While you are aware of your external senses, did you know you had a matching set of “internal senses” or that they are called Representational Systems? 

 When you say:

  • Visually – “I see this computer in front of me.”
  • Auditory – “I hear the sounds and noises around me.”
  • Kinesthetically – “I feel this book in my hands.”

You are describing your External senses. What about your internal world? We use the same five senses to represent what we are thinking about internally or subjectively. 

When you think:

  • Visually – Imagine a picture of an experience you’ve had.
  • Auditory – Recall a conversation you had.
  • Kinesthetically – Remember an experience you felt love.

You are using your internal Representational Systems. It is this internal world, through our Representational Systems, that creates our “mind’s eye,” the words (empowering or disempowering!) we say to ourselves, the feelings such as joy or despair that prompt our behavior and originate our moods.


Did you ever realize every action you take, one or more of these internal representations precedes every sentence you say? You’re not alone … this is outside of most people’s awareness! 

The words someone uses reflects whether they are thinking using their Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic systems, and this gives us an insight into how their brain is sorting information at the time. You can’t tell what a person is thinking but you can have a good idea how they are thinking! Some of the words we use which indicate the different Representation Systems are as follows:


  • Imagine
  • See
  • Show
  • Colorful
  • Illustrate
  • Insight
  • Picture
  • Look




  • Talk over
  • Listen
  • Tune in
  • Loud
  • Call
  • Resonate
  • Hear
  • Sound




  • Walk through
  • Heavy
  • Pass over
  • Touch upon
  • Get a hold of
  • Feel
  • Numb
  • Touch upon


…and there are many, many more. 

”So how do I use this?” you may ask. 

When you know to listen for the types of words people are using, you know what ‘sense’ they are using in their thinking, and knowing this is a direct link to translating your language to their representational system, which creates a very deep rapport, and influences at a subconscious level. 

Everyone uses all of the internal representation systems all of the time; but one or two are likely to predominate. For instance a very ‘visual’ person will see a lot of pictures in their mind’s eye and will use words like those in the visual column above such as see, look, view. A mostly ‘auditory’ person will make use of internal dialogue and will use words such as hear, listen, and speak.


So, if you keep using auditory words to a visual person, they will unconsciously have to translate internally to their own system. This takes time, can be difficult for some people, and does not build rapport. 

 Many relationships have been affected as a result. I know a woman who said to me “My husband doesn’t love me. He never brings me flowers, takes me to movies, or looks at me in that special way.” Her husband replied, “What do you mean, not love her…Of course I do. I tell her I love her three or four times a day!”

She felt loved when she was shown visually. He thought he was being loving when he told her auditorially. Hearing the words “I love you” satisfied him and as we all do, he assumed she did too. 

If he had listened to the words she used to determine which Representation System she was thinking in, he would have heard the visual words and realized his declarations of love were ‘falling on deaf ears.’ Then he could have adapted his language and behavior to show her he loved her, and they both would have been satisfied. 

 It is that simple to listen for the Representational words which indicate in what sense the person is thinking, and to adjust your communication style to match. 

 As you begin to notice what people say, you will note they are revealing their Representational System preference all the time, as these common phrases show:


  • I see what you mean
  • Looks good to me.
  • I get the picture.




  • Sounds awesome
  • I hear you.
  • It rings a bell.




  • It feels right to me.
  • I can’t grasp the point.
  • I catch your drift.


Exercise For Mastering


Your exercise is to pick a significant person in your life and listen to the types of words they use. You will notice they will probably use all types of the visual, auditory and kinesthetic words…but one type will usually predominate and practice translating your language to their system. 

If they say “I don’t see your point,” don’t say “Let me repeat it,” instead say “Let me show you what I mean.” If they say to you “What you’re suggesting doesn’t feel right to me,” don’t say to him/her “Take a different view,” instead say “Let’s touch upon the points another way.” 

If they say “I’ve tuned you out,” don’t say “You’re insensitive,” instead say “Lets talk it over.”

Then practice with other people you know, and listen to conversations on radio or television to develop your skills. Eventually you will find yourself doing it automatically. 

Become aware of how other people think, become flexible in how you respond, and develop excellent communication skills.

About lisachristiansencompanies

A U T H O R • I N N O V A T O R • E X P E R T Dr. Lisa Christiansen is one of the most sought-after motivational speakers, life coaches, and business consultants worldwide, building an impeccable record of client satisfaction in the process. A best selling author as well, Dr. Lisa Christiansen has written such inspirational titles as My Name Is Lisa; The Two Millimeter Shift; White Sheep, Blue Skies, Green Grass; 101 Great Ways To Enhance Your Career; and others, in which she sheds light on some of the biggest questions of self-empowerment and fulfillment. Among her most recent publications, Dr. Lisa Christiansen contributed to the book 100 Ways to Enhance Your Career, which features wisdom from other well-known figures in the self-help world, including Jack Canfield, John Gray, and Richard Carlson. In 100 Ways to Enhance Your Career, Dr. Lisa Christiansen shares a step-by-step process for increasing job satisfaction, gaining more from one’s career, building wealth, and taking control of one’s destiny. Aside from her numerous books, Dr. Lisa Christiansen hosts a wide variety of seminars and retreats, where she teaches her students the secret to unlocking their inner potential and living their dreams. Some of the popular events held by Dr. Lisa Christiansen include Mastering Your Wealth, Claim Your Future, and Design Your Destiny, all of which feature her intensive coaching and unique strategies of personal transformation. Her website has a wealth of additional information on her conferences, retreats, books, and other endeavors. Join the millions of people who have already revolutionized the quality of their lives. “You already know how to survive global changes in the economy, environment and political arena, now it's time to thrive and prosper at a level beyond what you ever thought was possible,” Christiansen said. “My seminar is about seizing the power within today. Press Summary: Creator of extraordinary lives, Lisa Christiansen has served as an advisor to leaders around the world for the last two decades. A recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, organizational turnaround and peak performance, Lisa has consulted Olympic athletes, world renowned musicians, Fortune 500 CEOs, psychologists, and world-class entertainers. Lisa’s strategies for achieving lasting results and fulfillment are regarded as the platinum standard in the coaching industry. Lisa captured the attention of heads of state and the U.S. Army. Christiansen has impacted the lives of millions of people from 30 countries. Lisa has been honored by Cambridge Society of Who’s Who as one of the Top Business Intellectuals in the World. Lisa has helped millions of people create extraordinary lives globally. Her expertise and guidance has enriched the lives of icons such as pop superstar Kelly Clarkson, Olympian Dara Torres, and superstar Patrick Dempsey.

Posted on May 9, 2012, in Wealth Creation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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