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Primary representational systems 1

What are primary representational systems?

The Preferred Rep System (or primary rep system) in NLP is the representational system that someone most often uses to display their experiences and show them to the world

Why would you want to learn about primary representational systems?

Understanding which representational systems a person most favours (their primary representational system) is really useful in building rapport with them. You can find out more about rapport in our article building rapport

You can also enhance your own communication skills along with gaining a better understanding of other people’s model of the world.

What are the primary representational systems?

.Before we get into primary representational systems, we should first talk about our senses, which are aAlso known as modalities)

We take in information about the world around us in five different ways, or to put it another way through our five senses.

These are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory.

So, in plain language.

Visual – what we see.
Auditory – what we hear
Kinesthetic – what we feel
Olfactory – what we smell
Gustatory – what we taste

Our primary representational systems are to do with how we process information, or to put it another way what happens AFTER we have taken in the world around us.

So primary representational systems are about what happens on the inside. They are about how we represent the world around us, how we form a ‘picture’ internally, and then about how we represent our inner world when we communicate. 

On a related note, each primary system can be broken down further in things called submodalities. Using submodalities is a really powerful way of affecting really positve change.

 

The primary representational systems.

The primary representational systems are as follows.

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinaesthetic
  • Auditory Digital

We can see our list looks a little different. People don’t really represent things in their minds in terms of taste or smell (although they are very important senses), so they are not part of the primary representational systems.

You’ll also notice we also have an addition, Auditory Digital, and this is to do with essentially how we think.

So let’s have a look at each one…

VisualAuditoryKinaestheticAuditory digital
Primary representational systems 2Primary representational systems 3Primary representational systems 4Primary representational systems 5
  • Process utilising pictures in their mind
  • Often good at seeing the ‘big picture’
  • Their favourite sense is their vision
  • Utilise visual related words (predicates) a lot – see, clear, bright, vision, view, picture, etc
  • Process utilising sounds in their mind
  • Tone and volume is important to them
  • Their favourite sense is their hearing
  • Utilise predicates such as sound, loud, quiet, listen, silence, harmonise, music, unhearing etc
  • Process utilising with how things feel in their mind
  • Their feelings and values are important to them
  • Their favourite sense are their feelings and emotions
  • Utilise predicates such as feel, touch, in touch, grasp, get hold of, concrete, solid, hard etc.
  • Process by turning information from their senses into language
  • Talk to themselves a lot in their heads
  • Tend to be more dissociated
  • Utilise predicates such as experience, understand, learn, think, perceive, know, process, decide etc
  • Summary

    Having an understanding of primary representational systems will give your communication skills a real boost and really help you in being able to get your message across in any conversation you may have.

    A great way of meeting someone in their model of the world, building rapport and getting your message over clearly and effectively.

    Would you like to know more?

    Our blog page has many more articles for you to read.

    Alternatively, head over to our NLP glossary where you can find a list of NLP terms with lots of links to articles.

    If you'd like to find out more about our courses where you can learn more head over to our courses page

    Thanks for reading!

    Chris

    ABNLP Trainer
    Founder: Insights NLP
    Phone +62 (0) 812 3895 2053

    EMAIL

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