We All See The World Differently – Your Internal Representation System (Part 2)

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In my last post I talked about the importance of understanding how you see the world, and how other people see it in order to communicate with them effectively.  Today I’m going to share some pointers which will help you identify what the internal representation system of another person is. If your offer is truly unique and compelling, or you have something that your prospect wants desperately enough then it won’t matter how you present it, but if there is any doubt in their mind then failing to pick up on their internal representation system, and to speak to it could be a deal-breaker.

As I mentioned, there are four primary internal representation systems: – Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, and Auditory-digital.


A visual person is concerned with how things look and appearance is an important part of what drives the decision making process.  As I mentioned, I’m a visual person –  if you don’t provide me with a visual prompt you can lose my interest, and lose the deal.

How do you recognise a visual person?

  • They talk rather quickly;
  • They usually stand or sit up straight;
  • They breathe up in their chest (because they’re talking too fast to breath deeply into their belly);
  • They care about how things look, and they want to see pictures;
  • Their speech is full of visual words like: – see, look, view, appear, show, clear, imagine.

A visual person will often use phrases like  “Can you see what I’m saying?” or “It appears to me that …”, “That’s really brilliant, I can really see where you’re coming from.”  “I just need to get some clarity on that.” because their visual senses are extremely active.


An auditory person is concerned with what they hear, and will make decisions based on that.  They love music and they’re usually the kind of person who will hear something once and know all the words to the song, remember a tune, learn by ear.  They’ll want to hear all about your program – and a written version won’t have the same impact.

How do you recognise an auditory person?

  • They talk at medium speed – slower than a visual person, but faster than a kinaesthetic person;
  • They breath about half-way down their chest – deeper than a visual person, not as deep as a kinaesthetic person;
  • They have flexible tonality in their voices and rarely talk in a monotone;
  • Their eyes will often move from side-to-side while they’re talking because they’re trying to construct what they’re saying and they’re recalling what they’ve said or heard;
  • They use auditory words like: hear, sound, listen, resonate, question.

Do you see how powerful understanding this is?  If you know your own internal representation strategy, and can identify the ones that  others are use, you’ll pick up on their cues much more readily.  When you find someone who shares your own system, you can go ahead and sell as though you were selling to yourself, but if you find someone different you can modify your strategy.  That way you’ll close many more sales.


A kinaesthetic person is mostly pre-occupied with how they feel.  They will often take a long time to move through the sales process, and you may wonder if they’re just a tyre kicker after all.  They are probably the group most likely to do business with other kinaesthetic communicators because they are operating on their ‘gut feeling’ and need to feel a strong sense of attraction to move forwards.

How do you recognise a kinaesthetic person?

They talk and move quite slowly;
They breathe deeply – right down in their belly;
They take their time over things and hate to be rushed;
They need time to ‘feel’ that something is right;
They use words like: feel, touch, catch on, solid, grasp.

Your kinaesthetic person hates to be rushed and will walk away from a deal that is otherwise perfect if they feel they are being pushed into it.  If you are selling to a kinaesthetic person you need to be patient and persistent because it’s not that they’re uninterested, it’s just that it takes time for them to get comfortable with the concept or product you’re offering to them. 

Auditory Digital:

People with Auditory-digital internal representation schemes usually have a strong secondary scheme, which is the thing you should be looking for.  Auditory-digital people spend a lot of time in self talk – sometimes they communicate with themselves so clearly that they think they’ve actually already told you things, that they just said to themselves.

How do you recognise an auditory-digital person?

  • They will often have their eyes down because they are talking to themselves;
  • They are very analytical, if you’re lucky they’ll speak their analysis out loud even though they’re talking to themselves rather than to you;
  • They usually have a backup sense, which is what you should look for;
  • They use words like: experience, understand, think, process, consider, know.

Auditory-digital processors can sometimes be the hardest group to sell to because they need to convince themselves before they can accept your input.

The point of understanding both your own, and your customer’s internal representation systems is that it’s not about you!   You need to focus on your customer and what they want to hear and what they want to know. 

If you’re in the situation where you’re thinking. “This is not working for me right now and I feel like I’ve tried everything.”  Ask yourself if you really have tried everything.  Are you trying to communicate in the way you prefer, or the way they prefer?  The difference between the person crying over there and the person having a crappy day is what you do with it – NLP gives you tool to do things differently.

Have you ever noticed this?  When you look back on deals you might have lost could it be because you weren’t appealing to the right internal representation system?

Leave a comment below and let me know if you agree with this idea.

Meta Description:   The four primary internal representation systems and how you can identify them and use your understanding to change your business outcomes.

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