It won’t come as any surprise to you that our thinking consists of images, sounds, feelings and, to a lesser extent, tastes and smells. Quite literally, the entirety of our experiences have been recreated using all of our senses.
We picture ourselves lying on an idyllic beach, hear the laughter coming from kids splashing in the sea, feel the warmth of the sun as it beats down, taste the sand in the soggy sandwiches we brought for lunch and smell the surf as it rides in on a breeze.
Of course, you may not recall these in equal measure as we all tend to have a bias to one or two of these representations. That may help to explain why two people having the exact same experience will remember very different parts.
Curiously, our predominant representation in a given context will often show up in the language we use. For example, when responding to the statement “I think the project is going well“, you may get:
“It’s looking good“
“I’ve been hearing good things about it“
“I feel good about the whole thing“
“Smells like a winner to me“
“I can almost taste success“
It’s no wonder smells and tastes are less commonly used considering how hard they are to work into conversation!
These qualities or attributes of the representations you make using your five senses are called submodalities.
Submodalities are the fine tuning to your representations and can be used to create powerful changes. The interesting thing to note here is that once you understand that you create your internal world, you realise you can change it.
What representations do each of your team use? Listen carefully to the language being used when next engaging in conversation.
If someone is using mostly visual words, match this in the language you adopt to help establish trust and understanding.