Communicate via 'Preferred Thinking' senses

Have you ever wondered why the person you’re speaking to doesn’t seem to understand what you’re saying, or from a coaching perspective, what you’re asking? Well it might be partly down to the fact that you’re not speaking in THEIR preferred thinking sense.

Understanding these can assist communication channels immensely as human beings process information by using the five senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. These allow the mind to code and understand what is happening. Some will be more developed or favoured than the others and it is these preferred senses that will be used to represent their world.

Once aware of this, you can detect the preferred sense of anyone you are talking to. Then you can adapt the way you speak to enhance the other party’s understanding.

E.g. Jill “I feel like he’s not in touch with his team”, Mike “I hear what you’re saying, we seem to be on the same wavelength but how do we get him to listen?” … Jill is obviously tactile whereas Mike is auditory.

Here are some commonly heard conversational clues to see which area people feel comfortable in:

'Seeing' or 'Visual':

  • I get the picture.
  • See what I mean.
  • That is colourful, coming from you.
  • Show me what you mean.
  • We’ll look back on this someday.

'Hearing’ or 'Auditory’:

  • Sounds good to me.
  • Clear as a bell.
  • I just turned a deaf ear to…
  • I hear what you say.
  • Ah, that’s music to my ears.

'Feeling’, 'Tactile’ or 'Kinaesthetic':

  • I feel good about this.
  • He’ll get the sharp end of my tongue.
  • I cannot get a grip on this.
  • I felt right at home.
  • The pressure to complete was incredible.

'Smelling’ or 'Olfactory’:

  • This smells fishy.
  • I smell a rat.
  • As sweet as a rose.
  • He had a nose for which direction to go.

'Tasting' or 'Gustatory':

  • Let us chew it over.
  • Like eating a piece of cake.
  • It left a nasty taste.
  • She’s so sweet.

Although the last two are rare, a further clue is that olfactory types will often sniff before they make a decision - to see if it smells right and gustatory people may smack their lips or make swallowing sounds - to get the taste.


As fast as you can, using the answer that immediately feels right for you, tick one from each of the three options given in the sections below.

I like to learn by...

  • Seeing how to do it.
  • Hearing a talk.
  • Having a go, hands-on.

I make decisions by...

  • Getting a clear picture.
  • Finding out how it sounds.
  • Attending to my gut feeling.

I buy things based on...

  • Colour, style and appearance.
  • Its description, sound or salesperson's talk.
  • The feel of the thing.

I find it easier to...

  • Draw a picture.
  • Sing or hum a tune.
  • Play sport.

By opting mainly for the first statement, you are probably primarily visual.

Selecting the middle option suggests that you are primarily auditory.

The third option indicates a kinaesthetic preference.

Life coaches use this to really dig deep by re-framing questions to the style of our client's. Thus improved communication and productivity can be obtained by listening first, understanding the other person’s preferred thinking sense and conversing in that style. It will assist in offering clarity and a stronger likelihood that your words will be better understood while also offering means to help you understand questions being asked. 

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend
Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Personal development

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals

Related Articles

More articles