Sense Preference

School was a perpetual state of fog as far as I was concerned. Even in the lower grades I struggled to comprehend and connect to the lessons on offer. Simple instructions would cause me great anxiety. A simple instruction like: “Close your eyes and imagine a big old oak tree!” So, can you do it? Can you close your eyes and instantly visualize an old oak tree projected from the depths of your brain onto the inside of your forehead? You can? Good for you! But not everyone can do this. Well, I can’t. I have to talk my way through the picture. I speak the oak tree into my imagination.

I can, however, create conversations and sounds in my head so realistic I sometime look around to see where the noise is coming from. Does that sound strange to you? In reality, people do not process information in the same way. There are many factors that make up the difference in our thinking styles, but I am only going to cover one aspect here.

People use the five physical senses to gather and sort information; see, hear, feel, smell and taste. The last two senses play a minor role in gathering information regarding learning or business. I want to focus on the three dominant senses; see, hear and feel.  Even though we all use all three of the main senses, each one has a preference. There is one sense that we favour above the others.

As you can tell from my school difficulties, visual is not my preferred thinking style. People with a visual preference think in movies, pictures and images. My personal preference is the auditory thinking style. This means my thinking is more like a radio station with noises, voices and sounds. People with a preference for the kinesthetic thinking style are all about touch, physical sensations and experiences.

Your preferred thinking style will tell you much about your communication ability, learning styles and decision making process. Understanding the style that you utilize most often will help you connect to people of the same style more effectively. It will also help you understand people of other styles, and will improve your ability to connect, relate and communicate.

Imagine that it is a warm spring afternoon. You walk into your house and into your kitchen. The room is cool. The whole kitchen is white with grey, shining work surfaces. On one of the work surfaces is a bright blue ceramic bowl. In this bright blue ceramic bowl are vivid green apples, deep purple grapes and a bright yellow lemon. Pick up the yellow lemon and run your fingertips across the rough skin. Study the texture of the skin and notice the humps and dents. Lift the lemon to your nose and inhale deeply. Smell the feint lemon aroma. On the work surface is a wooden board. Next to the board is a bread knife with a black handle. Place the lemon on the wooden board and pick up the bread knife. Place the knife on top of the lemon and begin to cut through. Hear the rip of the lemons skin as you cut. There is a fine mist of lemon juice in the air. The one half of the lemon falls away. Put down the knife and pick up one half of the lemon. Study the lemon half. Look at the segments and cells that make up the lemon. See some pips. Some of them cut through the middle. Lift the lemon to your nose and inhale. The lemon scent is strong and floods your senses. Shift the lemon down to your mouth and bite into the lemons soft flesh!

If I have the cues and clues correct, your mouth watered as if you had bitten into a real lemon as you ended the story. Did you? Your brain responded to the language in the story as if there was a real lemon in your hand. Why? Because the language used is full of visual, auditory and kinesthetic words. The language rich in sensory words tricked your mind into responding appropriately. Great authors and story tellers do this sensory-filled speech naturally, making their
stories powerful, and memorable.


How beneficial would this understanding be to you in your world? Are you in sales? You would sell compellingly. Are you in training or education? You would offer unforgettable lessons. Are you offering a vision? You would get committed buy in. By completing the free test above, you will uncover your own style. Follow the links in the answers email to the website that will define all the styles in detail. 

In my personal life, I wish I had access to this information when I was still at school. I went through life listening, when I should have been watching. This simple adjustment has improved my learning ability and fueled my desire to learn. I now regard myself as a student of life, not because I am intelligent, but because I now know how to learn. This is my wish for every little John out there - hang in there, the fog will lift!

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