We All See The World Differently – Your Internal Representation System (Part 1)

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I’m naturally quite a visual person.  A few years ago I met with someone who was going to do a social media strategy for me.  She charges about $1200 a month and I’d heard wonderful things about her, so I thought it was all going to be really fantastic and I was ready to go ahead with the solution.  We had a successful meeting and I was very happy with our discussion, so at the end of the meeting I said, “Look, if you can just send me a one page document, with three or four bullet points on everything that we just talked about, I can sign off on it and we’ll get started.”

She never did send me the document, so we never started the work.  I couldn’t run my decision making strategy because I needed to see it there in front of me.  It was a 12 month contract, so she cost herself quite a bit of money because she didn’t provide me with a one-page outline.  I even made the point of saying,  “It doesn’t need to be a fancy proposal, just three or four dot points outlining in writing what we discussed today so I can sign off on it.” 

The woman that was selling me the social media strategy was an auditory person.  From her perspective, she had told me all I needed to know to make a decision.  I don’t know if went away and said,  “I can’t understand why Chandell didn’t sign up, because she told me she had all of the things that she needed, but I’m going to be a victim about the fact that I didn’t get the sale.”  A lot of sales people do respond that way when the sale doesn’t go through, when in actual fact she wasn’t listening hard enough – I told her what I needed from her to make the decision and really I wasn’t asking her for all that much. In the context of it, if I’m going to spend $1200 a month for 12 months it’s a fair bit of money to spend to get three dot points on a sheet of paper.

As far as she was concerned, we’d gone over the system verbally and I’d agreed, so there was no more to be done.  Some people work like that. I don’t. It’s not wrong, it’s just different.

The point is we all see things differently because we have different Internal Representation Systems, and if you can get your head around this concept you won’t be leaving money on the table, just because you didn’t communicate in the way another person prefers (or requires).

Internal Representation Systems - A Powerful Tool

A number of workshop participants find that the insights they gain from this section are game-changers.  In the Confident Closing workshops we have a short quiz that indicates your strongest internal representation system.  The thing I always stress is that this system is not set in stone for anyone – it varies from day to day, and ideally as you increase your awareness you’ll be able to use all the internal representation systems fairly equally.  This is part of becoming a more flexible communicator.

What I want to stress here, is that this is not a boxed system, and you shouldn’t put yourself (or anyone else) in a box.  If you were to evaluate your answers to the quiz they’d change from day to day – this is simply a tool to help you understand yourself and others better, and to help you communicate more clearly.

Basically there are four internal representation systems, and we all use all four of them to a greater or lesser extent.  It really is important to understand that we don’t have just one Internal Representation System, and we can strengthen them all, because a few years ago this concept was taken into the classroom in the form of Learning Styles with the idea that every child was either one thing or another, and that you could blame their lack of progress on a teacher who didn’t teach to their particular style.

This is so very opposed to everything I believe that I have to stress the point here.  Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is about growth, and about taking responsibility for your outcomes.  You are not a victim of anyone as long as you are learning and growing.

The four internal representation systems are: – Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, and Auditory-Digital.  In the next post, I’ll outline how you can recognise the primary characteristics of these systems, but right now I really want to stress that as a business owner or sales person you need to be able to use all of these systems depending on the person you are talking to.  Think about it as another skill you want to develop to make your relationships stronger and more successful.

Do you think that your communication style is fixed and inflexible?  Or do you see this as yet another area in which you have potential to grow?  Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

Meta Description:  How the way you see the world affects your communication with others – and how understanding the way this works can change your business outcomes.

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