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Identifying

REPRESENTATIONAL
SYSTEMS
Created By Kain Ramsay & Steve Burns
IDENTIFYING YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEM(S)

We each have a preferred representational system (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) and


there are different ways to determine which system(s) we prefer. The following questions
make up a VAK Preference Assessment and will help to give you an indication of where
your preference lies.

In the video lectures, we've explored Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. However, this
assessment includes one further category known as Digital and this category refers to
someone who is devoid of the senses and who's natural inclination is to focus more on facts,
figures, logic and discrete words.

Please note: This assessment is not fully definitive as there are just 12 questions, but it will
give you an indication. It's also helpful to bear in mind that your preferred representational
system is likely to change in different contexts or over time.

Generally speaking, one representational system is not considered better than another.
However, if you score low in one or more of the systems, you may wish to take time to explore
in what ways this is affecting your communication with others and your life experiences.

Instructions:

Consider each of the statements below and assign a number to every phrase.
Use the following system to help you determine your preferences:

1) Least descriptive of you.


2) Next best description.
3) Next best description.
4) Best description of you.

If you're having trouble deciding between two different phases, then just go with the first
thought that comes to mind.

1. When on holiday by the beach, the first thing that makes me happy to be there is:
a __ The feel of the warm sun, cool sand, or the sea breeze on my face.
b __ The whistling wind, the roar of the waves, or the sound of the birds off in the distance.
c __ This is the type of holiday that makes sense / the cost is reasonable.
d __ The bright sun, the blue water and the scenery.

2. When I'm overwhelmed, I find it helpful if:


a __ I can see the bigger picture.
b __ I can hear what's really going on.
c __ I can get in touch with what's actually happening.
d __ I make sense of things in my mind.
IDENTIFYING YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEM(S)

3. When I'm given an assignment at work, it's easier to carry out if:
a __ I can picture what's required.
b __ I have a feeling for what's required.
c __ I have an understanding of what's required.
d __ I have tuned into what is required.

4. I find it easier to follow a presentation if:


a __ I feel in touch with the person presenting, and the content is within my grasp.
b __ There's a visual display so that I can visualise the concepts.
c __ The presentation is logically presented and is based on figures and facts.
d __ The person presenting speaks clearly with varying tonality or uses sound to emphasise
the message.

5. When I'm buying a car, I make my decision based on:


a __ The safety features, gas mileage, purchase price, etc.
b __ The feeling I get when I take it for a test drive or how comfortable the seats are.
c __ The styling, colour, or how I would look in the car.
d __ The sound of the stereo system, the engine or how quiet it drives.

6. I mostly communicate my thoughts through my:


a __ Tone of my voice.
b __ Words.
c __ Appearance.
d __ Feelings.

7. When I'm anxious, the first thing that I notice is that things:
a __ Begin to sound different.
b __ Begin to feel different.
c __ Begin to look different.
d __ Begin to not make sense.

8. During a discussion, I'm usually influenced most by:


a __ The logic of the other person.
b __ The tone of voice of the other person.
c __ The energy that I feel from the other person.
d __ Being able to picture the other person's point of view or seeing the other person's body
language
IDENTIFYING YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEM(S)

9. I determine how well I'm doing at my work based on:


a __ My own understanding of what actually needs to be done.
b __ How I see myself moving forward and making progress.
c __ How things sound.
d __ How satisfied I'm feeling.

10. One of my strengths is the ability to:


a __ See the things that need to be done.
b __ Make sense of new data and facts.
c __ Hear what sounds right.
d __ Get in touch with how I'm feeling.

11. I enjoy:
a __ Choosing some music to listen to.
b __ Making a logical and compelling point.
c __ Choosing clothes that I find comfortable.
d __ Choosing clothes that I think look good.

12. If you agree with someone, you're more likely to say:


a __ This feels right.
b __ This looks right.
c __ This sounds right.
d __ This makes sense.

Now copy your answers onto the table on the next page
IDENTIFYING YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEM(S)

QU NO. VISUAL AUDITORY KINAESTHETIC DIGITAL

1 d b a c

2 a b c d

3 a d b c

4 b d a c

5 c d b a

6 c a d b

7 c a b d

8 d b c a

9 b c d a

10 a c d b

11 d a c b

12 b c a d

TOTAL V= A= K= D=

Now add up the numbers in each column. The higher the score, the higher your
preference in each representational system.
IDENTIFYING REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEMS
Now that you've identified your own preferred representational system(s), let's look at
how to recognise other people's preferred systems.

As mentioned in the video lectures, paying attention to other people's use of language will
give you an indication of their preferred representational system(s). The table below shows
some common words and phrases within each representational system that people will tend
to use:

VISUAL AUDITORY KINAESTHETIC

See Hear Feel


Look Listen Touch
View Sounds Grasp
Reveal Make music Catch on
Show Harmonize Get hold of
Dawn Rings a bell Slip through
Appear Tune in/out Tap into
Envision Be all ears Make contact
Illuminate Silence Hard
Imagine Be heard Throw out
Clear Resonate Turn around
Foggy Crisp Unfeeling
Focused Deaf Concrete
Hazy Mellifluous Scrape
Panoramic Dissonance Get a handle
Picture Question Solid
Panoramic Unhearing Cold
Crystal Beat Hot
Dim Clash Rigid
Reflect Tinkle Heavy
Beautiful

Can you think of any other examples?


IDENTIFYING REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEMS
Here are some further phrases that can often be used to identify a person's preferred
representational system. Once you've identified another person's preferred system(s) you
can begin to use appropriate language when talking with them. This will help build
rapport and trust in the relationship.

VISUAL AUDITORY KINAESTHETIC

An eyeful Afterthought All washed up


Appears to me Blabbermouth Boiled down to
Beyond a shadow of a doubt Call on Chip off the old block
Bird's eye view Clear as a bell Come to grips with
Catch a glimpse Clearly expressed 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 scope on Give me your ear Get a load of this
Get perspective Grant an audience Get in touch with
Hazy idea Heard voices Get the drift of
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 Inquire into Heated argument
Looks like Keynote speaker Hold it
Make a scene Loud and clear Hold on
Mental picture Manner of speaking Hothead
Mental image Pay attention to Keep your shirt on
Mind's eye Power of speech Know how
Naked eye Purrs like a kitten Lay your cards on the table
Paint a picture State your purpose Pain int he neck
See to it Tattle-tale Pull some strings
Short sighted To tell 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 Stiff upper lip
Under your nose Well informed Stuffed shirt
EXERCISE - ALL EYES AND EARS

Outlined below is an exercise which will help you to begin to identify other people's
representational systems. Pick someone to practise on - this could be a partner you've
asked to help you practise your NLP skills on, or you could even carry this out discretely in
a conversation with a friend:

Person A = Coach Person B = Client

1.Person A asks Person B to tell them about something that they have purchased in the last
year that they have been happy with.

2.Person B tells those who are listening about this purchase; the process they went through
from start to finish.

3.While Person B is explaining this, Person A can ask probing questions to get more detailed
information on the process. Throughout the discussion, Person A’s job is to listen for Person
A’s preferred representational systems.

(Note: usually they exist in a hierarchy. Visual 1st, kinesthetic 2nd, Auditory 3rd etc... )

NOTES: