Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NLP Tips: 2. Preferred Thinking Styles

More NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) highlights after my reading of Develop Your NLP Skills (3rd edition)by Andrew Bradbury.

This post (#2 out of 5 total NLP posts) is about how "Preferred Thinking Styles" can be helpful in communication. Personally, I'm not sure I believe it 100% but I found it interesting conceptually, so I thought I'd share:

"Preferred Thinking Styles" (PTSs) are ways in which we mentally represent the external world in our heads. The 3 common PTSs are visual (thinking in pictures), auditory (thinking in sounds), or kinaesthetic (feelings, physical and emotional). According to NLP, if you listen to the types of words someone uses frequently, it's a clue into what type they are. For example:
  • Visual- "I don't see what all the fuss is about - it looks pretty straightforward to me."
  • Auditory - "It sounds like a lot of fuss about nothing if you ask me. I'd say it was pretty straightforward."
  • Kinaesthetic - "I don't know what people are getting so upset about. I found it pretty straightforward."
The NLP methodology says that each person is most comfortable being communicated with their Preferred Thinking Style. If someone is predominantly a Visual person, then others should try to paint mental pictures for them and use words that are "visual." If you find that your boss, your significant other, or business partner uses one kind of PTS (determined by the words they use in conversation), it's best to communicate with them using keywords from their PTS.

Naturally, it makes you wonder what type of PTS you are. I'd probably classify myself as a visual person, but that's from knowing how I think about problems (not from the language I use). I find that I do communicate best with other "visual" people when problem solving, but I'm not sure that applies to everything. It would be interesting to know if I end up using visual keywords when I communicate with others.

But at the same time, the words you use are often largely dependent on the context of the discussion - i.e. Did you see that giant elephant? Did you hear that woman at the store talking so loudly? How did you feel the presentation went? That's why I'm not sure if the words we use are indicative of our thinking style, but I haven't invested the time to test out the concept.

  • Do you think there's something behind these Preferred Thinking Styles or is it bunk? Your thoughts...?

1 comment:

Kristin said...

I've seen this theory a few times, and I believe there is some credibility to it. Interestingly, I find it most useful in getting responses out of people. Being in sales, you always want to know what your client is thinking. There are proposals/emails/offers etc you make all day long, and you can ask - So what do you think? Do you want to buy? Or do we have a deal? These are ugly questions that dictate ugly, one word answers. But if you shift the thinking by asking...how do you feel about this? what possibilities do you see here? or simply...sound good? then you get colorful, insightful answers that help your customer express themselves fully, and you understand their need and usually, close the deal, without the traditional, "ugly" questions that stereotype sales people as cheesy!