The Three Modes That Connect Us

This is an article of mine similar to one printed in, an online news magazine. I’m reposting it here for your interest and enjoyment!

‘Don’t you see what I mean?’ ‘She didn’t hear a word I said.’ ‘Would you please just show me how to do it?’

It is so frustrating when you’re trying your best to get through to the other person, and they just don’t seem to get it. What is going on?

Well, you may not be speaking their language. No, not ‘love languages’. That’s something else. The ‘Three Modes’ means we need to speak in the way the other person learns best. In other words, do they learn best by seeing, hearing or doing? What is their favorite mode or modes of learning?

Try this to check your own mode: Remember a time you were going to a friend’s place, but you’d never been there before? How did you want to be given directions?

• ‘Give me the Landmarks’. I need to ‘see’ it, the ‘visual’ mode.

• ‘Tell me the names of the streets’. I need to ‘hear’ it, the ‘auditory’ mode.

• ‘Hand me a map to mentally drive it.’ or ‘Once I’ve driven there, I can always find it again.’ I need to feel or do, the ‘kinesthetic’ mode.

We all have one (or two) ways that work the best for us. So do the others in your life. So when we communicate the way they need, not just in our way, they will understand us better. Here are some examples:

Imagine a ‘visual’ wife is having a budget conversation with an ‘auditory’ husband. The ideas he’s proposing could be great. But he is only telling her his ideas, and she doesn’t ‘see’ how they would work. Uh, oh! Then, one of them gets a tablet and writes them down. She reads them, and likes them. Now they can collaborate.

How about a ‘visual’ husband planning a romantic one-month anniversary dinner for his ‘auditory’ wife? He sets the table with flowers and their nicest plates. She gets home and asks, ‘Do you want to go out to dinner?’ Aargh!! She didn’t ‘see’ the table because she is auditory. So, the next month, he again sets the table, but also puts on romantic music for her. She comes home, hears the music, and they have a great evening.

Imagine a young ‘kinesthetic’ child, whose ‘auditory’ Dad tells him how much he loves the child. It’s not going in, is it? Then, the Dad starts ruffling his hair, or hugging his child. The child now feels his parent’s love.

A teenaged ‘visual’ girl is going through a rough patch, and the ‘auditory’ Mom knows to speak in her daughter’s way, and so she uses “post-it therapy” – supportive post-it notes stuck in surprise locations. Or perhaps the Dad writes her a letter, so she can read how proud he is of her. The daughter can take it in.

It’s important to use the mode your loved ones need if you want to be more connected, more understood.

So how do you figure out what they are? First, listen to the words they use. They give us the first clue.
• (Visual) Words are used to make pictures. ‘I see it.’
• (Auditory) Sounds are key. ‘Can you hear it?’ ‘That rings a bell.’
• (Kinesthetic) Feelings and actions are important. ‘That just felt right.’

Then, the most interesting way: Watch their eye movements. Scientists have discovered our eye’s movements signal which way we learn best.

• If we are creating or remembering a picture of something (visual), we look up. Picture your Mother’s face. Did your eyes go up and left to the visual memory?

• If we are creating or remembering sounds (auditory), we look sideways, or straight in front of us. Can you remember a nice instrumental piece or a conversation you enjoyed? If your eyes went horizontally left, that’s your auditory memory. Notice that a lot of actors on TV are auditory.

• If we are creating or remembering a feeling or action (kinesthetic), your eyes go down. Imagine walking barefoot along the beach, feeling warm sand between your toes, and salty air blowing your hair. Are your eyes down and left as you walk that beach?

Our eye movement will be to the left, to the right, and straight-ahead. The current theory about those directions is this:

If our eyes look to the right, we are creating. If we look to the left, we are remembering. If we look to the center, we are synthesizing.

One side note: On TV, you’ll hear people say, “He’s looking to the right. He’s lying.” Not necessarily. He is ‘creating’. He might be creating a lie, or he might be choosing his words carefully, creating the sentence to be as clear as possible. For example, I often look to the right when I am teaching. I’m trying to think of a really good example to make a concept very clear. So please do Not accuse your loved one of lying because they look to the right. Thanks!

Now it’s time for a little investigation. Which mode (or modes) are you and your loved ones? First, notice eye movement direction. Then, consider these:

• If you are visual, what your surroundings look like is important. Colors make a difference. Clutter may be visually distracting and bother you. You may enjoy reading. You can remember best if you see something, or a picture of something.

• If you are auditory, sounds are important. You enjoy the different sounds in music. Conversations (often sitting side-by-side) are good. Eye contact can even be distracting. You may enjoy books on Audible. Places with a lot of visual stimulation are not fun. You can remember best if you hear something.

• If you are kinesthetic, action and feeling is important. You may enjoy having things that create positive feelings around you (that a visual person might see as clutter). Textures of fabrics are important. Walking while having a conversation is comfortable. Having to sit totally still is no fun. Being able to do something with your knowledge makes it easier to learn.

Here’s an example of using these different modes to connect better:

You travel to a lovely tropical beach. You tell your visual sister about the sparkling turquoise water, the golden sand on the beach, the vivid green of the palm trees. You tell your auditory brother about the deep sound of the waves breaking on nearby rocks, and the call of the sea gulls. Lastly, you tell your kinesthetic friend about the smell of the crisp salty breeze blowing gently on your face and the warm sand between your toes. And it’s magic. Because you adapted to their mode, they fully enjoy your descriptions of the beach.

And now, as you know your mode, and that of your loved ones, you can connect in a new and better way.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.