The Language of Leadership – Part 2

Tailor your language!

Tailoring your language to the person you’re communicating with means they can better identify with what you’re saying.  It’s a surefire way of getting on the same wavelength as someone and creating that deep rapport.

In this blog post we’re going to explore something called “representation systems” and gain an understanding that as humans we use our senses to “make sense of the world”.

We all process information in different ways and record it for future use. Your world is processed through your senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.  Generally everybody has a primary sense that they use to establish an experience within their conscious or sub-conscious mind.  Usually that primary system is either visual (sight), auditory (sound) or kinaesthetic (touch or feelings).  Of course, you will access all five senses but your behaviours, language, and creation and memory of experiences will be prevalent either in a (V)isual, (A)uditory or (K)inaesthetic way (VAK system).

“Everyone lives in their own unique model of the world”

Think back to your favourite holiday and relive the most memorable pieces. Take a few minutes to do this and collect those memories in your mind.  Then think about how you remembered:

  • Did you create a visual picture of the events? Were the scenes vivid and maybe moving and in colour?
  • Did you notice the sounds within the experience? People’s voices, music or natural sound of the surroundings?
  • Was the memory more about feelings inside, of being happy, excited, relaxed etc.?

If one of the above was the recognisable approach to your method of reconstructing the memory, then this indicates your likely lead representational system.

An indicator of a lead representational system is the language people use.

Here are some examples (known as predicates)


  • “I see what you mean”
  • “I get the picture”
  • “Things are looking good”
  • “Show me what you mean”
  • We need to focus on this aspect”
  • “He has a bright future here”
  • “I have an insight into this”
  • “This is how I look at this situation”
  • “He uses colourful language”



  • “I like the sound of that”
  • “I would like to listen to your ideas”
  • “That struck a chord with me”
  • “I hear what you say”
  • “He told me relevant ideas”
  • “That was pitched well”
  • “We discussed the situation”
  • “I am getting into the rhythm of the job”


  • “I like the feeling of that”
  • “I have a sense of what you mean”
  • “He has got his finger on the pulse”
  • “Things are really moving now”
  • “She’s a soft touch”
  • “He is hot on quality control”
  • “I cannot get to grips with this”
  • “I am under pressure”
  • “Give some shape to the strategy”

Tailoring your language to include more predicates that match the lead representational system of others will ensure you deepen rapport and communicate more effectively as a leader. Of course you or others may be a combo of two or all three language preferences – and if you’re communicating to a large audience then you’ll want to include a mixture of language that will engage everyone.

‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head.  If you talk to a man in his language that goes to his heart”  Nelson Mandela

Enjoyed reading this? Read Part 3 of The Language of Leadership here!


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