Representational system in nlp

What are the representational systems in NLP?

The representational system in NLP are the way we make sense of the external world.

We are continuously creating experiences in our mind while you are reading this post, while you watch movies, listen to songs, smell a rose, so hence and so forth.

We take information through five senses Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetics, Olfactory, and Gustatory.

Once the information is taken, it is represented to our brain where we make these experiences, memories, feelings, and for a long time. This makes a unique model for each of us.

In NLP, Representation systems are also known as Modalities.

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Why are the representational systems in NLP  important?

Representation systems are unique for each person, like fingerprints.

eyes Yes, a representation system as unique as fingerprints.

We all have a set of experiences that have their personal history.

No two human beings have precisely the same experiences of the same event.

They may have some similarities, but at least 1 or 2 aspects will be different for everyone.

Use of Language as Representation systems in NLP

How do we communicate about our experience? Well, humans communicate their experiences through language. Isn’t it? We use language to represent our experience.

So we use representation systems for reasoning, rehearsing, fantasizing about our experience, memory, and so on, and while we are doing that we are creating our own model of the world.

This simply means we use language to communicate our representation systems with each other.

When we communicate we talk, write or discuss, etc our experiences and we are not so conscious about the process of selecting words.

We are never conscious of the words we choose or the structure we select to represent our experiences.

This means our choice of words comes from our internal representation systems.

This process is not so conscious and has a reflection of our preferred sensory systems.

How do you remember things usually? Is it visuals, movies, that feeling, smell, taste, or bodily sensation? Some of us may store our memory as visuals or based on our preferential representation systems.

A visual person will remember the finest details like color, brightness, shape, etc.,

NLP representational system

How many types of representational systems in NLP do we have?

We have 5 representation systems, Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, and Gustatory.

The NLP representational systems mostly focus on Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic more.


In the NLP representational systems, Visuals are the people whose preferences are images, movies, and pictures over other modalities.

Visual people look at the world as visuals and make the meanings or form experiences by making pictures or movies.

When you are talking to a visual person they tend to look over your head or slightly tilted to the right, this is because they are making images in the brain while talking to you.

These people will understand the drawing or diagram better than anything else.


Auditory people whose preference is sound simple.

Auditory people will remember details like sound, voice, tempo, and so on.

When you are talking to an auditory person they tend to look right in your face and will move their ear slightly to listen carefully.


Kinesthetic people whose preferences are bodily sensations.

Kinesthetic people will remember details like feelings, bodily sensations, and so forth.

These people want to touch and feel before making any decision. They play around and want to feel the sensation, usually slower than Visual and Auditory people.

Primary or the lead representation system.

We all use represent systems to memorize, make experiences in our brain.

However, we all have one dominant or lead or primary representation system.

According to NLP maestros like Bandler and Grinder, we have two preferred representation systems to store information, however, there is one lead representation system for all.

Identifying, Lead NLP representation system can have many benefits, you can build rapport easily for that matter.

How to identify the primary representation system/lead representational system?

Well, there are a number of ways through in NLP to identify the lead representational system or modality of any person.

You can know a person’s preferred modality by observing their eye movement, I will post the article in a short time.

You can know modalities by just observing their language also, just listen to their choice of words.

Eye Accessing Cues

We can identify the NLP representational system people they are using by observing their eye movement. This is a working hypothesis. Please read the word of caution in this post while using it.

Have you ever noticed, while communicating with others, how their eyes move in certain directions? We tend to access the information first inside while doing this eye move in a certain direction.

We go inside while thinking and make certain movements through our eyes which access or represent the modalities we are using.

If a person is Visual the eyes will go most at top right or left.

For Auditory it at the middle right or left and at the lower it is mostly self talk or analytical thinking.

Next time when you ask someone a question, notice where their eyes go top, middle or bottom

This is the technique used by many secret agencies to interrogate criminals. There are many videos on youtube.

Languages to identify primary or lead representational systems.

bulb We select the words or structure the sentences based on our lead representational system.

To identify lead representational systems observe the set of words they use.


These people will use words like the look, watch, see, present, imagine so hence and so forth.

Basically all words related to the visual properties.


These people will use words like hear, listens, sounds etc.likewise.

Basically all words related to the Auditory properties.


These people will use words like touch, feel likewise.

I have compiled a list of words or predicates by each NLP representation system here in the table below.

VisualAuditoryKinestheticUnspecific (Ad)
Show/illustrateSilentFeel outconsider
See throughSound outstanceemit
blankListen in onpositionpersevere
viewTune outCarry throughignore
perspectiveopinionGet hold ofconceive
Look aftercommentLet slideimitate
Get the pictureHear outPass overunderstand
Point outCall upPut the fingers onRemind one of
imagineCall attention toLead throughintensity
Get an eyefulRing a bellGet a feel ofequalized
radiaterepeat/recallBounce offmotivate
Look atloudTouch uponRequire awareness
Focus onClick in toWeight the optionsMeet with
blindHear the optionsHammer homeSuggestion of
seePlaybackBearing in mindteach
See the optionsLast wordTouch base withinsensitive
Add sparkleGet an earfulGet a load ofRefer to
In the light ofClear as bellHad gutsHas the ability
Seeing Eye to eyeUndertone ofbalancedecide

Other Indicators for Primary or lead representation system.

  • They memorize by seeing pictures.
  • They sometimes find it difficult to follow up verbal instruction
  • They are more interested in how things look.
  • Tend to talk faster.
  • Remember faces easier than names
  • Tend to stand straight.
  • Prefer to stand in such a way so that they can see everything.
  • They are usually well-groomed and well dressed.
  • Things should “look right’ to them.
  • They are easily distracted by noise.
  • They learn by listening and can recall things easily.
  • Like to talk on the phone and enjoy long talks.
  • Easily remembers phone numbers and data
  • Stands close enough so that they can hear you clearly.
  • Understand better talking than reading.
  • Things should “sound right” to them.
  • They respond to physical touch and rewards.
  • They memories with walking it through.
  • They usually talk very slowly and their voice is breathy.
  • Learn by doing things, they need to experience the feel first.
  • They are usually worn for comfort, looks are not so important to them.
  • Like to stay as close as possible while communicating.
  • Things should “feel right” to them.
Auditory Digital
  • They enjoy self-talk more than discussion.
  • They like to go through steps and procedures.
  • The product should make sense to them.
  • Prefers process flow chart, diagram, and min maps.
  • They are very logical and tend to think in the process.
  • They are good at segregating and categorizing.
  • Things should “make sense” to them

warning  Words of Caution while finding Lead representational system in NLP

  • Don’t go on labeling people

People have their primary or lead representation system, that is what they do but do not put them into categories/boxes.

Some may have different primary or lead representation system in different situations sometimes. Most people have the same lead representation system but it is likely to change.

  • Do not take Eye accessing cues for face value

Simply put, eye accessing cue is based on many generalizations, it works most of the time, but it can be different for different people in different situations and contexts. They are working hypotheses or generalizations.

We can use them at the start of communication but we should verify it with other tools also. You can observe language and other accession cues mentioned in this post.

How to use a representational system in NLP for better communication?

Imagine, if you have a superpower to know, how people understand or make sense of the world. How can you utilize it for better communication?

People will show you by the set of words they use or the physiological indication which is the primary or the lead representation system.

Once you find the lead representation system your only job is to feed them data, use the words of their preference of modalities.

For Example.

If you find a person with visual primary representation or modality, you can use more pictures and diagrams to communicate more effectively with this person.

For Auditory you can use more audios, songs, and music, and for kinesthetic you can give them to try or experience your product.

For Auditory digital, you can show them more data and logic to understand.

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How can you use the NLP representational system in your Day to day life?

Make effective presentations.

Imagine if you are giving a presentation and you have to impress them anyhow. How can you use NLP representational systems to your advantage?

If you are presenting to highly visual people, you can use more images to grab their attention. You can use diagrams to explain your product or services because that will interest them more than anything else.

If the group is more Auditory digital, give them more facts and figures, as they tend to analyze everything. You must come up with well-researched data and analysis, that will be a treat for them.

If the group is more kinesthetic, you can introduce games, role play, or simply hand over samples to them. This is what they are searching for, they need to have a feel of things before making any decision.


In any relationship largely depend on how we communicate with each other? If couples are in the same representation system or say understands each other’s primary representation system they can be communicating a lot more easily, and hence more smooth relationships.

For Example, if the wife is more Visual, she will prefer more beautiful gifts, movies, or cards, no matter how many times you say “I love you” to her it won’t matter to her.

For an Auditory person, it may matter how many times you say “I love you” to them. While a kinesthetic person will like experiences or say how you made them feel?

Building Rapport

With an NLP representation system and accessing cues you can identify, what a person is thinking? If not, how is a person thinking?

Based on that you can be flexible with what to say? How to say? & when to say? This will be an added advantage to you anyway.

You can use the same words, or select the same set of structures of words, and build rapport.

Where else are you going to use the NLP representation system shared in the comment section below?

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