NLP Internal Representation, States and Physiology

NLP Internal Representation, States and Physiology


Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic – those are three major modes of operation.

You can notice what mode a person operates in and identify it. By identifying you can now match and mirror the other person to build a faster rapport. Because people tend to like each other if they ARE like each other. In building rapport it’s also important to remember that almost 40% of our communication is a tonality with which we speak and the other 55% is our physiology (try turning your back on a person while having a conversation – you are going to lose rapport instantly). And only 7% of communication is verbal. This is why our I/R’s, States and physiology are so intimately interconnected with each other.

While we can’t know what people are thinking we can know whether they are paying attention to what they are seeing feeling hearing smelling or tasting. There are three ways to do this.

  • The first is noticing their eye patterns.
  • The second is by listening to the words they use. Visual words are like see, look. Auditory words are like hear, listen. Kinesthetic words are like feel, touch. Gustatory words are like eat, taste. Olfactory words are like aroma, smell.
  • The third is by attending to body language and physiology such as breathing patterns and muscle tension.

Knowing how people think we can then improve our communication. The words someone says shows the internal senses they are using, how they are thinking. If you know what system a person is using, you can present your message in a way they understand. Using words from the same rep system creates rapport.

Someone who has a strong preference for a particular system can become stuck. The more ways we can think about a problem or a situation, the more available resources we have. Sometimes problems result because we don’t use the resources from other representational systems. For instance, feelings can so overwhelm a person that they can’t step back and look at the situation objectively. Alternatively, someone may be only seeing the surface of things and trying to make a decision without using their feelings.

The situation often determines which representation system we use. For instance in an art gallery we use more of our visual senses. At a music concert, we use more of our auditory senses. Most people use words from all the systems. We develop preferences. There is no such thing as a visual or a kinesthetic person. We do tend to develop preferences and it shows in lots of ways.

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