Words that Make Sense: The Key to Greater Influence

Words that Make Sense: The Key to Greater Influence

By: Deb Maes
December 4, 2013

Ever had one of those conversations where you are both saying the same thing but still disagreeing? It’s like you’re not talking the same language? What’s going on?

“I don’t see your point”. “How might that look”?

“That doesn’t sound right”.
“I don’t get that”. “How would we go about that”?

What’s different in these 3 examples? They are using different senses: seeing, hearing and ‘feeling’.

The language a person uses provides a clue into how they experience the world and their mental processing. Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic (see, hear, feel) are the main modes our brain uses to make sense of the information that comes to us in language.

Have you ever noticed that as you recognise a word, you automatically convert it into a picture or sound or feeling?

Let me bring this to your awareness with this thought experiment …

First, just notice what happens when you read these words, “Qìchē” (Mandarin), “duka” (Swahilli), “prachtig weer” (dutch). If you don’t speak these languages, you will have an internal response of confusion, or a question like, “What does that mean?”, or perhaps a comment like, “That’s a foreign language”, right!

Now, notice what happens when you read these same words in English: car, shop, nice weather.

It’s a different experience, isn’t it?

When you recognise a word (or whole sentence) it’s because you are translating it into a picture, a sound or a feeling, right! This reveals your mind’s preference for processing. And what’s cool, is that we reveal our preference through the language we unconsciously choose, just like in the examples above.

The sensory words a person uses are clues we can use to create rapport, have greater influence and better communicate.

Simply using the same sense they use when we reply, we can give the other person the feeling, quite literally, that we are speaking the same language. You know how good that feels, don’t you?

For example, most people are highly visual and yet in business meetings we sit around and talking. Problems can take a while to solve and people don’t always take the actions we expect. By including more sensory based communication in our meetings, we achieve a more focused and aligned result.

If you want to have more influence with people – whether with a team of people at work or with the family on the weekend – you’ll benefit from applying these tips:

  1. Pay attention to the clues people leave about their strongest preferred way of processing – their language is the road map. If you match it, you enter their world and build a stronger connection and relationship.
  2. When one mode isn’t working, switch to another sense. If email isn’t getting it done, switch to phone. If telling your child what to do doesn’t work, write it down or draw a picture. If the phone isn’t working, send a picture. When someone is agitated, a caring touch or look may go further than anything you say.
  3. Pay attention to the sensory words you use and broaden your communication by including other senses in your communication. You may very well broaden your own world.

Where do you think you might like to practice this first: at work, in the family or out in the community?

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Words that Make Sense: The Key to Greater Influence

Author spotlight:

Deb Maes

Deb Maes excels at coaching community leaders and her highest vision is to serve the most influential people on the planet. She has experienced many things that have led to her becoming the conscious and compelling coach she is today. In her memoir "Through My Eyes: From Struggle to Joy" she shares her journey to becoming the resilient, compassionate, and grateful woman she is today. In addition to...