We are taught in school how to communicate with each other through language and we are successful in most cases. What they don’t teach us are the ways in which we can make deeper connections with people through our communication. Knowing these ways can help us become closer to the ones we love.
We all display a preference to experience the world in different ways. This is really clear to me when I go to the gym and use the treadmill. Several people around me are wearing headsets, listening to music as they jog. Other people are smiling as they do a hard run and are “feeling the burn”. Then there are those of us who are reading a book or magazine as we get our exercise.
The three ways that we all experience the world are through our sight (visual), our hearing (auditory) and feelings (kinesthetic - both physical touch and our internal “feelings”). One or more of these ways become our preference in how we communicate with other people. And just as important, how we wish to be communicated with.
Identifying what our partner’s preference is may take some time. Or it can be quick and easy!
Someone who goes to the movies a lot or owns many movies on DVD and has pictures hanging on every wall of their house may very well be a “visual” person. Ask them to describe their favorite vacation to you and listen for the “seeing” words:
“I love the blue color of the ocean and how the waves crest as they roll onto the sandy beach”
Likewise, a person that has an extensive music collection, listens to podcasts and audiobooks often, loves to go to concerts but rarely to a movie or play will likely be auditory. When the auditory person tells you about their vacation they might say:
“I love the sound of the ocean waves as they crash on the beach where the seagulls are arguing with each other as they fight over newly uncovered clams”
The third preference that people have is for the sensations they get from an experience. This can be any combination of touch and internal feelings and may come from an experience of an auditory or visual experience.
The kinesthetic person will watch a movie because it makes them cry or listen to a song because it makes them laugh. They love to feel the sun on their skin and the grass against their bare feet. When they talk about their favorite vacation you might hear:
“I love to walk in the ocean and feel the sand on my feet. I can feel the rumble of the waves as they hit the beach”
Most people have a primary and a secondary preference and may not be exclusively one or the other.
Now that we know what our partner’s preference is, how do we use that to communicate more effectively with them?
By using language that feeds them back their preference, they will be “listening” in the language that means most to them.
If your partner is visual, cards and little notes or gifts can be a special treat. And the wrapping around the gift may mean as much to them as what is inside! Photos of yourself are much appreciated as is dressing up for a special occasion!
Using the “seeing” words can help as well. “You look great in that jacket!” will be something they’d like to hear. Remember that the eyes are the visual person’s most important asset!
The auditory partner wants to hear from you. They will enjoy the surprise phone call, hearing you sing a song, or tickets to a concert. More than a card or note, they want to hear you say “I love you!”.
The kinesthetic person appreciates a touch, holding hands, brushing their hair. Take them to a comedy club for a good laugh or a dark play for a good cry!
Hugs are a great gift to a kinesthetic partner!
Combining these ways of communicating, if you know that your partner is visual and kinesthetic, give them a love note and a hug. If they are auditory and kinesthetic, make that a hug while whispering “I love you” into their ear.
There are two other senses that can come into play: smell and taste. Some cultures use one or both of these senses as a primary way to experience the world, but most people settle on visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
Knowing how to communicate with your partner in these ways will only deepen your connection and feelings of love for each other!
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