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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Book your complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session with Chandell.

By popular demand we have turned many of our multi-day workshops into multi-week online courses with a live day to kick them off. Learn more at https://businessgrowth.mykajabi.com/masteryoursales


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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Book your complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session with Chandell.

By popular demand we have turned many of our multi-day workshops into multi-week online courses with a live day to kick them off. Learn more at https://businessgrowth.mykajabi.com/masteryoursales


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