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How often have you heard someone who has learned a bit about NLP say a person is “Visual” or “Auditory” or “Kinesthetic”? Unfortunately, that’s a simplistic and counterproductive approach to Representational Systems. People use all of their senses to experience the world and although a person might have a tendency to using one of the senses predominantly in a given situation, that doesn’t mean that a person will use it exclusively, especially when you’re working with a client to determine that person’s strategies.

When you speak with people, pay attention to the words they’re using. While that person may use words with a primary representational system, for example Visual when describing a movie, the same person could well use more Auditory words when describing music.

Have you ever seen a movie while it’s being scored? Without the music, it lacks emotional impact. You might not consciously notice the music but it plays a big part in building emotion in a scene. Filmmakers use visual, auditory and kinesthetic predicates in order to create an immersive experience. Thankfully Smellavision never took off.

So rather than chunking down immediately and categorizing people according to a predetermined script of VAKOG, get out of your head and pay attention to how they’re communicating with you.