The Eyes Have It

You can easily learn a simple system that will immediately accelerate your ability to build wealth, without investing in expensive customer relationship management software or overhauling your accounting system. The model created more than 40 years ago by John Grinder and Richard Bandler gives you the tools to influence other people through building rapport, that is aligning with their way of experiencing the world.

Rapport conditioning using the basic principles of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a learned skill based on using the perceptual patterns of others to communicate with them. For more detailed information, read “Instant Rapport” by Michael Brooks, founder of the Rapport Technology Group.

Reading this column and practicing the simple strategies for developing rapport will be the easiest steps you ever take to grow your business and cultivate loyal customers, suppliers and employees. Most important, the people you influence will be delighted to do business with you because people do business with people they like and who appear to be similar to them.

The NLP model is based on our internal representation of what our senses perceive around us. As children, we explore with all five senses—seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling our world—in a unique way. As we mature, we each develop a “primary representational system” that reflects each of our dominant sensory channels. If you perceive the world through your eyes, you are visual; through your ears, you are auditory; through touch you are kinesthetic.

Of course, we use all of our senses, but most people have a preferred sensory channel. If you want to ascertain a person’s preferred system, you can watch for “eye-accessing cues” during a conversation. Our eye movements are involuntary, and they reflect the areas of the brain that are being used at a particular moment. Look at the diagram and pretend that you are talking with this person. If you ask about the color of the person’s car, the eyes will most likely go upward and to the left, as he remembers information he already has in his memory banks. If you ask what color car he would like to have in the future, his eyes would travel up and to his right, as he creates an image of something not yet experienced.

The same is true if you ask about a favorite song. The eyes will go to the left as the person remembers the music. When you inquire about a loved one, the eyes will go down and to the right as the person feels the emotion your question has triggered. The diagram illustrates eye-accessing patterns for right-handed people; you would reverse the left and right sides for someone who is left-handed.

Before you apply the system to relationships, think about your own way of experiencing the world. When you learn something new, do you prefer slides, diagrams, books and movies, or lectures and discussions, or making models and practicing skills? In other words, do you prefer to learn through a visual, auditory or kinesthetic style? When you focus on your own life, you will begin to see your preferred style in your career choices, leisure activities and relationships.

If you are a visual person who has hired a kinesthetic assistant, you might experience frustration if you don’t recognize the style differences as you work together. If you do not understand how your boss prefers to receive new information, you may wonder why she is annoyed with you every time you present something to her.

You can discover someone else’s preferred communication style by asking questions and watching the eyes. Listen to how the person describes experiences, and you will begin to notice language clues as well as eye movements. If your customer uses phrases such as “Lay your cards on the table” or “I’m not following you,” he is communicating kinesthetic intelligence. When he asks if something “rings a bell” for you, he is living in an auditory world. If he “paints a picture” for you, he is expressing the visual style. It’s as simple as that. Ask questions and watch where the eyes travel, and you will begin to develop a feel for anyone’s preferred communication style. Neutral words such as “think” or “motivate” or “understand” are not cues to a particular style, but if you are patient and really listen, you will identify the language cues of the preferred style and use the same language yourself to immediately create rapport.

In the next few months, we’ll explore strategies for using rapport conditioning to strengthen your ability to influence everything from buying decisions to the outcome of strategy sessions.

About the Author

Denise Norberg-Johnson

Financial Columnist
Denise Norberg-Johnson is a former subcontractor and past president of two national construction associations. She may be reached at .

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