At some point in your life you may have heard the concept of being a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. We all have a preference for how we process the information the world is giving us. Some people learn by watching or looking, some people by listening, and others by feeling or doing.
This is good to know about yourself and if you’re a teacher it’s good to be familiar with this from an educational perspective, but for EVERYONE there is a much bigger picture here if you are willing to go just one level deeper.
My wife and I often talk about how we read books. Not just that we read books, but how we process the books we are reading. She was astonished by the fact that I’m not constantly creating mental pictures of every scene in every book. I try to explain to her that I process the information auditorily like someone is reading the information and I am remembering what was said or what is happening. There are exceptions to this – sometimes a book is so gripping or vivid that my mind will make pictures that will enhance my experience. Knowing this it makes sense that we often read different types of books – I like to read books on personal development, philosophy, and theology while she loves to get immersed in dystopian sci-fi novels. And when you think about our reading differences, that makes perfect sense.
Knowing these differences, we should have a much better idea about how to communicate effectively or to stimulate each other’s minds when we talk. For example, if I go out to an event and come back to discuss it with my wife, I won’t say “John is thinking about buying a car.” I might engage her visual mind by saying “John has his eye on this cherry red Mustang with a smooth, black leather seats” – in other words I do my best to provide details that paint her a vibrant visual picture.
Think about this if you’re a salesperson (by the way, everyone is a salesperson) and you’re trying to convince someone to buy a red mustang. Through conversation and visual cues, you can learn to quickly determine what people’s preferences are. For example, a visual person might use statements like “I see what you mean.” An auditory person might say “I hear what you’re saying.” A kinesthetic person might say “I really feel what you said there.”
Your sales pitch should look vastly different for each person. For the kinesthetic person you’d want to get them to a test drive and talk about “feeling the smooth ride” or “feeling the rumble of the engine when you turn it on.” For the auditory person you might say “this Prius is perfectly quiet” or fire up the engine on a muscle car and let them hear the roar of the engine. For the visual person you’d focus on the colors and the curve of the side paneling.
Building rapport is essential for every interaction in your life. Using these VAK modalities is one way to learn how to more effectively communicate with the people you want to inspire, influence, or simply engage with on a deeper level. Pay deep attention to people and they will give you the keys to connect with them.
Make it Concrete
Pick one person in your life – maybe a spouse, a friend, or a coworker – and decipher which modality is their preference. If you don’t know already, ask questions, and listen to how they speak. Are there any word clues they are giving you? If you get totally stumped, then you can ask.
Once you’ve cracked their code, how are you going to change your behavior and communication to build a deeper and more meaningful connection. If it’s your spouse, what kind of gifts will you give them from here on out? A kinesthetic person might love a massage while a visual person might prefer a huge arrangement of flowers waiting for them at home. If it’s your boss, how will your presentations look if you discover they are a visual person versus an auditory person?
Ultimately, don’t filter everything through your own bias. Learn to meet people on their level and watch your communication skill soar.
Your life coach.
The Andrew Warner Podcast: