Do you learn best by seeing, hearing or doing?
Powerful techniques to improve your life
Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP is a powerful tool for anyone wanting to upgrade, strengthen and deepen their skills and strategies to higher levels of effectiveness in life. I first learned of NLP in 1992 during a retail conference in Orlando and was eager enough to pursue it vigorously. Over time, while becoming a certified practitioner, I discovered it catapulted my learning, leadership, and intuitive skills to higher levels of effectiveness. NLP helped me understand and take control of my thought processes and feelings, and use them to create positive impacts in my personal and professional lives.
One of the basic ways NLP helped was by categorizing the way people process sensory information into representational systems, such as Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic.
Visual people learn best by seeing. They prefer watching demonstrations, charts, audio-visuals, or pictorial books. They have intense concentration and ability to visually imagine information. A good example are those who may remember visual depictions or people’s faces, but forget names.
You can tell who the visual people are because they tend to write things down, take detailed notes. If I notice lots of doodling in their note taking, they are visual. In a classroom, meeting or negotiation setting, they are often found looking distracted, looking out of the window, or flipping through workbooks, chapters and handouts as they frequently need visual stimulation. Their facial expressions are quite transparent. They don’t like to talk endlessly and get impatient with too much extensive listening. They learn best by studying alone.
Auditory individuals respond best by hearing, listening or reading as they are all about words. They prefer talking about a situation, and are quick to vocalize their feeling. They love talking and like other talkative people too, but are always waiting to interject or have themselves heard.
They learn best through verbal instructions, and are often the ones who move lips, subvocalize when reading, and memorize well with auditory repetition. They interact well with others with whom they can discuss ideas, problem solving and material.
Kinesthetic people like to just do the stuff. They need direct involvement with things and are more tactile. Touching, feeling and manipulating objects works best for them. Not big readers, they can get restless if they are made to be in one place for long, and need to move around. You’ll often see them fidgeting. They need to do something! They express emotions in a more animated manner, through movement and gestures, and need frequent breaks when it comes to paperwork and studying.
Most of us display a natural leaning towards one of the systems, but use all of them in some measure. My experience is that by determining what system one has a natural leaning towards, I’m able to achieve far better results with others. NLP allows me to tailor responses and actions for individuals from across spheres to pick on subtle language clues that helps them identify the style they prefer. It helped me discover what makes different people tick, and understand sooner how to read their non-verbal communication, build rapport and optimize my relationships.
When talking with others, I will use words like “look” and “see” for Visuals, “hear” and “sound” (That’s sounds good to me) for Auditory and “feel,” “smooth” or “rough” with Kinesthetic tendencies.
“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.” — Confucius
The use of these category of systems in NLP is just one of the techniques used throughout my career and even today. Other examples include:
- Visualization and metaphors that help others think differently, and in ways that provide positive messages and mindsets, replace limiting beliefs, and achieve specific outcomes. These encourage different thinking processes, and provide a powerful means of embedding positive messages. I found they can be a very useful way of replacing limiting beliefs, lack of confidence and limitations occurring due to negative past experiences, with positive messages and suggestions.
- Reframing helps change a negative idea into a positive one, by flipping it around and seeing the positive side of it. Sometimes the frames—our perceptions of things– we have developed over our life time can limit us, and prevent us from having what we want. Reframing is just an alternate view or mindset, like finding the humor when it starts to rain right after you washed your car. Reframing isn’t about taking a rose-tinted view that everything is wonderful. The aim is to achieve a more realistic perspective on reality. It’s an empowering way to use flexibility in our thoughts and behavior.
Anchoring is one of NLP’s most powerful techniques that can be used for any number of situations and contexts. It uses a positive emotional trigger, draws from it, and superimposes it on a challenging situation. It can change the emotional state others, by creating positive emotions. When I first started giving speeches in the 1980s, I would suffer from a bad case of nerves before presentations. Through NLP, I learned to use an anchor to replace my jitters with composure. I went from addressing a dozen people at a conference table to over 5,000 at the Javitz Center in New York (I even won a free trip for my family to Disney World in a dance contest in front of 18,000 in the Alamodome in San Antonio in 2016).
Leaders, educators and facilitators can utilize this technique by integrating key words or other stimuli as anchors during presentations and one-on-ones, that consciously or subconsciously, promote subsequent recall of the positive reframing and triggers.