Our representational system is our preferred way to communicate based on how we filter the sensory input from the world around us.

We know that words are approximately 7% of what we communicate, and yet, what you’re going to learn here is how to communicate using words that are included in different the representational systems in order to gain rapport and positively influence and persuade someone you’re speaking with.

When you match someone’s tone of voice and predicates (specific words according to the representational system) you will connect with the person on an unconscious level – which is what rapport is.

Have you noticed when you just connect with someone easily even though it’s the first time you’ve met them? This is the experience of being in rapport.

Being aware of representational systems increases your emotional intelligence aptitude for self-awareness and active communication skills.

The Types

There are four types of representational systems: Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic and Auditory Digital.

The below examples represent the four types in sequential order:

The descriptions we use to explain what’s going on in our heads are not metaphorical descriptions but they’re actually real and accurate depictions. If someone you’re talking to says, “I don’t see what you’re saying,” then the truth is, they just don’t see it – they aren’t able to form a picture in their mind based on the amount of information you’ve given them.

If someone says, “what you’re saying to me doesn’t sound right,” it may mean that your tone of voice and the words you’ve chosen to use may not be appropriate to enable them to decide.

And if someone says, “I don’t feel right about what you’ve said,” it means you’ve not said the kinds of things that cause them to have the right kind of feeling inside themselves.

Lastly, if someone says, “this doesn’t make sense,” what they’re saying is that you haven’t given them enough logical, reasonable, rational digital information on what they’re deciding on.

Let’s look at each in more detail:


People who are visual often stand or sit with their heads &/or body’s erect, with their eyes up. They will be breathing from the top of their lungs. They often sit forward in their chair and tend to be organised, neat, well-groomed and orderly. They are often thin and wiry.

They memorise by seeing pictures and are less distracted by noise. They often have trouble remembering verbal instructions because their minds tend to wander. A visual person will be interested in how your program looks. Appearances are important to them.


People who are auditory will quite often move their eyes sideways, as though they’re looking at their own ears. They breathe from the middles of their chest. They typically talk to themselves and can be easily distracted by noise. Some even move their lips when they talk to themselves.

They can repeat things back to you easily, they learn by listening, and usually like music and talking on the phone. They memorise by steps, procedures, and sequences (sequentially). The auditory person likes to be told how they’re doing and responds to a certain tone of voice or set of words. They will be interested in what you have to say about your program.


People who are kinaesthetic will typically be breathing from the bottom of their lungs so you’ll see their stomach go in and out when they breathe. They often move and talk verrrrry slowly.

They respond to physical rewards and touching. They also stand closer to people than a visual person. They memorise by doing or walking through something. They will be interested in your program if it feels right or if you can give them something to grasp.

Auditory Digital

This person will spend a fair amount of time talking to themselves. They will want to know if your program makes sense. The auditory digital person can exhibit characteristics of the other representational system and therefore be confused with their characteristics. This person will need to understand your program from their own position or perspective.

Predicate Words and Phrases

To determine a person’s representational system, listen for these keywords or phrases:

Auditory Digital
See Hear Feel Sense
Look Listen Touch Experience
View Sound(s) Grasp Understand
Appear Make music Get hold of Think
Show Harmonise Slip through Learn
Dawn Tune in/out Catch on Process
Reveal Be all ears Tap into Decide
Envision Rings a bell Make contact Motivate
Illuminate Silence Throw out Consider
Imagine Be heard Turn around Change
Clear Resonate Hard Perceive
Foggy Deaf Unfeeling Insensitive
Focused Dissonance Concreate Distinct
Hazy Question Scrape Conceive
Crystal clear Unhearing Get a handle Know
Picture Solid Believe
An eyeful Afterthought All washed up
Appears to me Blabbermouth Boils down to
Beyond a shadow of a doubt Clear as a bell Chip off the old block
Bird’s eye view Clearly expressed Come to grips with
Catch a glimpse of Call on Control yourself
Clear cut Describe in detail Cool, calm & collected
Dim view Earful Firm foundations
Flashed on Give an account of Get a handle on
Get a perspective on Give me your ear Get a load of this
Get a scope on Grant an audience Get in touch with
Hazy/unclear idea Heard voices Get the drift
Horse of a different colour Hidden message Get your goat
In light of Hold your tongue Hand in hand
In person Idle talk Hang in there
In view of Enquire into Heated argument
Looks like Keynote speaker Hold it!
Makes a scene Loud and clear Hold on!
Mental image Manner of speaking Hothead
Mind’s eye Power of speech Know-how
Naked eye Purrs like a kitten Lay cards on the table
Paint a picture State your purpose Pain-in-the-neck
See to it Tattle-tale Pull some strings
Short-sighted To tell you the truth Sharp as a tack
Showing off Tongue-tied Slipped my mind
Sight for sore eyes Tuned in/ out Smooth operator
Staring off into space Unheard of So-so
Take a peek Utterly Start from scratch
Tunnel vision Voiced an opinion Too much of a hassle
Under your noise Within hearing Completely stuffed

Put it into action

  1. Listen for and note down the predicate words and phrases that people closest to you use.
  2. Once you’ve identified what you think someone’s current representational system is, play with the words you say so that you are speaking in their representational system.

Keep in mind, that this method of communication requires you to be ecological with your intent. The ability to influence and persuade someone you’re talking to can be misused. Don’t be that person. Please do not use this information to manipulate others.

Take note, that people change from moment to moment. Different things that happen in our lives mean that over the course of our lives we’re going to utilise different representational systems at different times and in different contexts.

It’s important that you do not use this information to pigeon-hole yourself or anyone else to only one system. I think it would be unfortunate if someone reading this limits themselves to just one representational system. I’d prefer if you say, “right now you’re primarily utilising ____ [whichever representational system you tested highest in].”

Be sure to let me know how you go.


Source acknowledgement: Tad James Co. Pty Ltd