Lunch and Learn with Lindsay – Issue 57: The Magic of Words – Part 2

Use sensory rich words and VAK to engage the person you are communicating with

Words can be a magic way to engage with someone and get on their wavelength quickly.

As sensory rich beings we see, hear, feel, smell and taste our way through life.  Whilst we access all five senses to “make sense” of our worlds, most of us have a dominant or primary sense and the words we use will be determined by that sense.

Being able to identify your own and others dominant sense can be a useful thing to do to ensure you communicate as effectively as possible and use the magic of words to engage and create the deepest rapport.

How often have you met someone for the first time and felt that you got along really well and immediately seemed to be on the “same wavelength”?

How often have you met someone for the first time and found it really difficult to keep the conversation going? 

The reason for this could be because you are either talking the same or a different “VAK Language”.

Take a few minutes to think back to the last meeting you were involved in and re-live the most memorable bits – collect the memories in your mind.

Then, think about how you remembered:

Did you create a visual picture of the events? Was it a “snapshot”, a still image? Was it a “mini movie”? Was it in colour?

Or did you notice the sounds within the experience – people’s voices, music or the natural sounds of the surroundings?

Or maybe the memory was about feelings inside – happiness (the meeting went really well!) or tension (the Sales Director and Managing Director could not agree on anything!).

The VAK System

Whichever one of these ways of reconstructing your memory was the first and / or most recognisable indicates your likely dominant sense.  You experience your world either in

  • pictures (the Visuals – or The V)
  • sounds (the Auditory – or The A) or
  • feelings and movement (the Kinaesthetics – or The K).

This is called your “VAK System”.  You might have identified that you’re a combination of two or maybe a “cocktail” of all three.


If you have a dominant Visual sense then your magic words and phrases are likely to be similar to these:

  • “I see what you mean.”
  • “I get the picture
  • “Things are looking great.”

Because you can see in your “mind’s eye” what you’re talking about, you’re likely to use your arms and body to draw out in front of you the very thing you’re describing! You will notice how things look around you – their shape, form and colour – the aesthetics.

If you have a dominant Auditory sense then you’re likely to talk in words that are sound or music related, as examples:

  • “We discussed the situation”
  • “I’d like to listen to your ideas”
  • “I do like the sound of that”

You might be great at tuning into new ideas.


If you have a dominant Kinaesthetic sense then you’re likely to use words that are feelings, movement or touch related:

  • “I’m under pressure
  • “I like the feeling of that”
  • “Things are really moving now”

You probably have a pretty clear idea of where you experience your feelings too. If you’re stressed you may touch your head, if you’re hungry you may touch your stomach and for you to really optimise any learning, you probably want to be there, experiencing it first-hand.

If a primarily visual person is using all their visual magic words, an auditory person is likely to “switch off”. However two “visual” people are much more likely to create quicker and deeper rapport and be “comfortable” with each other because they are, in effect, talking the same language and using the same magic words.

So, next time you are listening to colleagues or friends in conversation, notice what words they tend to use and favour. Read through your emails in your inbox and notice any patterns in words that they use regularly. What dominant sense do you think they are using?   If you’ve discovered you have a dominant Visual sense and your colleague is Auditory – in order to communicate effectively with them you can adjust the words you use and include more auditory words.


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