Seeing. Touching. Hearing.
We all tend to relate best to one of these sensory preferences. That doesn’t mean we don’t use all of our available senses, it just means that somewhere between 40%- 60% of the time one of these three senses – sight, touch, or sound – is the dominant way we process information.
Usually, these preferences are found in the order they are listed here, with more people being influenced by what they see, followed closely by people influenced by what they feel, and finally, fewer people are influenced by sound.
We are usually able to tell which of the three senses dominate in the person we are speaking with, even in a short conversation. They will use phrases like, “I see what you mean,” “I feel this might be the best way,” or “Yes, I hear what you’re saying!” (You might even hear “I see what you’re saying.” That person is usually very visionary.)
If you want to “click” with a person, the way you respond to their conversation and their sensory preferences will make a difference in their perception of you.
For example, it will be easier to motivate a person whose dominant sense is sight if you use phrases like, “That’s an interesting point of view.” Or, “I see where you’re going with this.” You can even describe what you see: “That photo is compelling; the child is looking right at you!”
If a person thinks in pictures, paint the picture you want them to see. Show them graphs, rather than columns of numbers. Give them a map in addition to written directions.
When you are dealing with a person with a predominant sense of touch, make your words correspond with their senses. “That gave me chills.” “I can’t quite put my finger on it.” “I’ll touch base with you next week.”
Quite often you will find that these “touchy” individuals are the folks who pat you on the shoulder, shake your hand, or give you a high five – or even a hug. They really do want to reach out and touch someone, and are very comfortable with feelings. If you can show them a model or a piece of equipment they can actually hold, they respond well. When dealing with a kinesthetic person – a person who responds to touch – you will find they tend to be easy going and do business with a handshake.
A smaller percentage of people have auditory sensory preferences. They’re usually turned off by loud or rough voices and unpleasant sounds. They often turn their head just a bit toward a speaker, so they hear that person well. They will say things like, “May I voice my opinion?” “What’s the story on this?” or “I didn’t like her tone of voice.”
When doing business with someone who is giving you auditory preference signals, you may want to use quotations from famous people, or even music lyrics if they fit the occasion. Be sure to speak in a clear, calm, musical voice whenever possible.
Identifying the sensory preference of the person you are doing business with will allow you to tailor your conversation more appropriately. Your message will immediately make sense to them, and you will be well on your way to a great business relationship.