Remember that people like to receive information in different ways

One of the less glamorous NLP topics, normally covered in the early part of NLP training courses, is called ‘representational systems’. In a nutshell, this relates to our five senses – visual (see), auditory (hear), kinaesthetic (feel – emotional or tactile), olfactory (small) and gustatory (taste), plus our self-talk and logical processing of what we have perceived via the five main senses. And although we all use these six systems, most of us will have a preference for one or two of these in any specific context.

Recently I was contacted by someone who has provided ad hoc specialised business services for me for several years. Let’s call him Fred. Fred emailed me a proposed new contract, without discussing the details with me at all. When I called him to discuss it, he was a little tetchy with me, saying that he had lots to do to a tight deadline and that he would prefer if I emailed him my thoughts rather than phoning him. I was a little taken aback by this – I am the client and my view is that in business it’s important to accommodate the client. On reflection though, I do remember him saying about three years ago that he likes to be emailed rather than phoned, and I do value his services and the business relationship we have developed.

So, using representational systems, in this context Fred needs to see/read something so that he can reflect and process it, whilst I like to be able to talk things over either to help me get a feel for the situation. In other words, he probably preferred visual/logical processing whereas I preferred auditory and kinaesthetic. No wonder he seemed a little tetchy with me on the phone, and also why I was taken aback slightly.

My tip, therefore, is to recognise that other people may have a different preference about how they receive information compared to how you would like to provide it, and to respond accordingly. Because I value Fred’s contribution to my business, and know that he is not NLP trained, in the future I’ll make sure I email Fred rather than call him unannounced.

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