How Does Using Primary Representational Systems Improve Communication Effectiveness?

Macro of a beautiful eye

Image by m_bartosch courtesy of

If you’ve ever stopped to listen to the way you speak, and in particular to the words you use

you’d notice that you tend to focus on one of the primary senses when you are referring to something. In other words that your language and the references you make tend to center on, or reflect one of the primary senses…. visual, audio or kinesthetic, or to a lesser extent gustatory and olfactory.

A common lesser known fact is that as individuals we each have what is referred to as a primary language or representational system that we resort to as a default mode or language choice. And as individuals when we communicate we use the vocabulary that reflects that primary language representational system.

The Three Primary Representational Systems
So for instance if your primary representational system is visual then you’re most likely to use words that describe what you observe and see.

You’ll make comments like…

‘I see what you mean!’‘I gauge that…‘Visualize this..” Or ‘Imagine…’

If on the other hand your primary representational mode is auditory, you’re likely to say… ‘I hear what you say…’, ‘Listen to me…’, ‘Tell me what you think’

And if you’re kinesthetic in orientation, your choice of language will be punctuated with words that denote feelings or a sense of touch… ‘I can feel it…’  ‘It saddens me…’ ‘I’m so glad…’ ‘…as smooth as silk…’

So listen out for the words or type of words you use to describe your experiences and feelings. And become more aware of what your primary language representational is… and then learn to increase your communication adaptability by switching into the other senses or language modes.

Communication peppered with all three major sensory components is far more effective than communication skewed to one sensory channel. And this applies to all communication… with family, friends, and work colleagues.

What’s Your Partner’s Primary Representational System?
Once you recognize and appreciate your own sensory representational system, then take the time to determine your partner’s.

Using his or her sensory language preference will increase your communication effectiveness together… As your tuning in to his or her primary language channel! And fine tuning the reception.

The more you incorporate the primary language mode of your partner’s representational system into your language choice the clearer your message and communication effectiveness is likely to become.

And when your tone, choice of words and body language are congruent with one another, there is less chance for your message to be misunderstood!

You can have some real fun with this!

Fine Tuning
These primary representational systems reflect how we make sense of the world around us, and reflect how we think… so provide a new level of clarity in our communication. Being aware of them provides means to fine tune the reception of your communication in the same way that you would fine tune the quality of the reception of an MP3 player or Utube channel. When finely tuned the channel is crystal clear making the messages more likely to be received and understood… crystal clear and distinct.

When someone speaks to you using the same language representational system as yours you feel an instant connection. Rapport is instantly felt. You resonate unconsciously with one another.

It’s like downloading a favorite piece of music and playing it on your iPod. It just feels good for no conscious reason at all…

When on the other hand, someone speaks to you referencing a different representational system from yours, the connection can at times feel strained… just like when you hear a new piece of music and the beat or rhythm doesn’t initially inspire.

So listen out for your own primary language representational system and that of your partner’s and when communicating something really important or heartfelt, be mindful of the senses you’re using to explain your point of view.

You might want to share this information with your partner so that you can both experiment and play with these different representational systems and see how referencing different language choices affect the messages. You’ll be surprised…

…Learning to use another primary representational system from your own is quite challenging at first. Like learning any new language it takes practice and conscious effort to become fluent… but well worth it. So give it a go.

And if you have enjoyed this post, please share the love. My aim is to assist couples to take their relationships ‘from good to great’ or where there are issues to be resolved or sorted through or overcome to assist couples to go ‘from sagging to bragging…’

So please share the love, by clicking the links below and leaving a comment in the box provided. Much Love.


Did you enjoy this article?
Get Free Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *