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.