Today’s blog is the fourth in the Authentic Relating series where I’m been sharing ways to connect with the truth of yourself, build authentic communication skills and build genuine, heart-centred connections. In today’s episode, you’ll discover ways to use languaging patterns to build rapport, be heard more easily and align with your own inner essence which are skills needed for connecting authentically. 

Key Topics Include:

  • Understand primary representational systems for creating experiences and how they are important to build genuine, compassionate and vulnerable connections.
  • Hear practical examples of how to use NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) languaging skills to establish rapport, be heard more clearly and create high-quality connections.
  • Learn about NLP Meta-Programs and how understanding and applying them in your conscious connections can help keep the peace in relationships.
  • Practical examples of using Meta-Programs in conscious conversations.

Authentic connections involve being connected with your inner truth and heart-based compassion while taking responsibility for your feelings and needs so that you can consciously communicate clearly and authentically.  In the last 3 episodes, I’ve covered how to build these skills with information and exercises inspired by the NVC (Non-Violent Communication) and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) which are foundational to the Consciousness Medicine practice.  Today I’ll continue building on these skills by introducing you to languaging skills based on identifying primary representation systems that we all use to create our reality and relate to others.

Representational systems are the five senses of experience.  We all take in and process information through five main sensory channels: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling.  This is from the NLP toolbox, where we call these visual (eyes), auditory (ears), gustatory (smell and taste) and kinesthetic (to feel).  The way we are wired, there is a primary or dominant sense used.  This differs for each individual and when you know your primary representational systems.  This allows for a deeper understanding of who you are, how you interact with the world and what ways you respond best when relating to others.

Our primary representational systems become habituated such that we tend to rely on them heavily.  Becoming aware of how to use other ways to take in information creates a richer experience of life, as well as allows for the appreciation for all your senses as you build relationships with them.

Being tuned in to all sensory experiences increases presence, calm and connection.  Having the flexibility to use several senses to create your experience brings ease when relating with others who may have a different dominant sense than you.

Understanding other people’s primary representational systems gives you important information about how to communicate more clearly and will give you a window into how they experience their world and organize their reality.

We tend to share our experiences based on our primary representational systems so the ability to identify and adjust to another person’s dominant representational system allows you to speak their language, deepens the ability to connect more authentically and allows the words you speak to be appreciated more fully.

You can determine your and other’s primary senses by listening to the language they use as well as how they speak, gesture and hold themselves as they communicate.  For example, people who have a dominant visual representational system will often speak in a fast cadence and their eyes will be more active than the rest of their body as they speak.  Visual processors will use words pertaining to seeing and vision.  For example: I see what you mean.  That looks great.  That concept isn’t clear. Well, I view it this way.  Looking back, it appears differently.

People who are kinesthetic processors will often speak more slowly and they must feel into every word.  They will move their bodies frequently to activate the sensations of feeling in their body.  They will often have a difficult time communicating, listening and interacting if they must remain completely still.  Kinesthetic people will use words associated with feeling.  For example: That feels right, I’ll do it!  Do you grasp what I’m saying?  I need to get in touch with what I want.  I have a feeling you’re right. 

These are the two most popular representational systems but there are also auditory who will use words associated with hearing like that rings a bell.  That sounds good to me.  I can’t hear myself think over this noise.

Epictetus, an ancient Greek philosopher said “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  From an authentic connection perspective, this saying is spot on.  We must listen closely to others from the heart rather than from a busy mind to truly absorb what they are saying and be able to respond with empathy and understanding.  Often our minds are too engaged in interactions with others analysing what they are saying or thinking of how we will reply.  A good skill to build an authentic connection is to practice listening to someone by dropping into your heart and quieting the mind.  Do not nod or speak as you listen, simple be fully present in a heart-centred place where you are actively receiving what they are saying.  Give this a go and notice how much richer the connection is with the other person, how you hear them more clearly and how rapport is increased by compassionate presence.

When we listen carefully to the words people use we can get valuable information about how they determine their experience of reality.  By adjusting our language patterns to match another’s primary sensory system we improve our ability to be heard and their ability to understand us.  If you have a conflict with someone or constantly feel misunderstood, they there is probably a mismatch in representational systems that is causing your communications to either not be received or be misinterpreted.  Making small adjustments to your language patterns can go a long way toward reducing conflict and connecting more authentically.

For example, a visual processor and a kinesthetic processor can tend to frustrate each other as the visual person can become impatient as the kinesthetic person speaks and processes information more slowly.  The kinesthetic person may become frustrated trying to follow what the visual person is saying since they may talk too quickly for them to feel every word, which they need to gain full understanding.

If the visual person says to the kinesthetic person “Take a look at this and see what you think” this is more difficult for them to connect with that if it is said in this way “Why don’t you sit with it and let me know how it feels to you.”  If you are interacting with someone for the first time and don’t know what their primary representational systems are you can use neutral or a mix of words to try to create a connection.  For example, you could say “What’s your sense for this?”  “How does that land for you?” “What happens for you when I say that?” This will allow you to explore their sensory experiences and be able to build a connection more easily than if you simply communicate from your perspective which may or may not resonate with others.

NLP also has categorizations for the main ways the brain functions called Meta-Programs.  These are general models for how the brain works to organize and communicate.  Much like representational systems, being able to identify how you and others are wired will help you adjust your language and communication style to be heard, understood and connected in a more genuine way.  Metaprograms are also useful in the business world as they allow for marketing content to be created that appeals to as many different people as possible to capture authentic interest.

In relationships, understanding your partner’s metaprograms and how they are similar or different to your own will go a long way toward keeping the peace and allowing each person to feel seen, heard and understood.  It also allows you to keep your partner’s love tank full by appreciating how they are wired and what is important to them. 

If you struggle communicating with your children or family, paying closer attention to their metaprograms and primary representational systems will help you bridge the gap to a more meaningful connection.  There are nearly a dozen different metaprograms, but there are a few that I find most useful and are easiest to identify.  The first one is called the Direction metaprogram which includes two main categories: towards and away.  You can find out which one you align with by asking the question “What would you like in life?”  A person with a towards metaprogram will answer with what they want to achieve.  The person with an away-from metaprogram will answer with what they don’t want.  This metaprogram is useful to be able to identify as the two categories are very different and so it can cause a breakdown in connection that is difficult to solve unless it is understood.  The towards and away from person are literally speaking a different language.  The person will say “What I want is to create an experience in life where I am healthy, happy and showered in abundance”. 

The away-from person will say “I want to stop feeling anxious by letting go of my fears so that I can stop being treated badly in relationships.”  While one seems positive and the other negative, try to release your judgment and see them as equals.  Neither is better than the other, it is simply how the brain is wired.  You can imagine how disconnected an exchange between a towards and away from person can be given that example.  If you are a therapist or practitioner, it is important when unpacking the desired state of an away-from thinker to state it in positive action language. 

This can be done by asking “When you are free from your fear, what will you be feeling”. Or “When you stop feeling anxious about what will be present for you, what will you be thinking, feeling and expressing.” This helps to shift the manifestation energies in the direction of universal co-creation that will make it easier to achieve.   Appreciating an away-from thinker’s way of communicating is important for maintaining a compassionate connection rather than feeling annoyed by thinking they are being negative. 

The away-from strategy is one that is quite useful in that by eliminating the choices one does not want and allows for clarity to emerge for what they do want.  The towards thinker, who has all the options available to them can sometimes become frozen and overwhelmed from having so many options.

From a business perspective when you are creating marketing content or working with teams of people, being able to speak to both categories will allow you to reach a broader audience.  For example, using statements like “Do you want to release what holds you back?  Are you ready to start making positive changes in your life?”

Another metaprogram that can impede authentic connections is the Scope metaprgram which includes the two categories of general and specific. The general thinker will describe and absorb information better that is in summaries and overviews.  The specific thinker will resonate best with the use of specific details.  “Would you like to join me for dinner sometime soon?”  Verses “Would you like to meet at Café Yum on Thursday at noon?”  Knowing which way you think and how others think can help you adjust your communication style to create greater resonance, comfort and rapport which are important factors in authentic connections.

The last metapgoram I’ll highlight is the Reason metaprogram which has two categories of options and procedural.  You can determine which category is present by asking “How do you know when you’ve mastered a new skill?”  the options person will give a list or criteria while the procedural person will give a step-by-step account.  This metaprogram is so important with teaching since the options person will close down at the thought of having to follow a procedure and would rather be given general guidelines to follow.  Alternatively, the procedural person will love being given a step-by-step guide and will falter if given only broad concepts to follow. 

When I teach I will give both options and procedural instructions to be sure the information appeals to both.  For example, I might describe an exercise in a conceptual way of where we start, what we hope to accomplish and the concepts involved in getting there.  I will then follow with a step-by-step guide to follow from start to finish.  This boosts learning and the ability to absorb material and increases the willingness to participate in the lesson.

I hope today’s episode has helped build your ability to understand yourself and others more deeply and gives you more skills to build authentic connections both personally and professionally.  Tune in next week as I continue on in this series.

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