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Overlapping Representational System

The Overlapping Representational System in NLP is moving from the Preferred Representational System to another Representational System. For instance if someone is predominantly visual you would start off by talking in their language (“I see what you mean, it’s crystal clear” etc.) then move across to other modalities (audio, tactile, AD) to provide the client with more flexibility or to show them something they are missing.

The key to using the Overlapping Representational System is flexibility.

Flexible communicators can consciously use language and awareness to understand the clients’ model of the world and their preferred representation system. With awareness and NLP Rapport, the advanced communicator can lead the client to communicating within a different representational system.

Here are some examples of language for each Modality and representational system:


See, look, view, appear, show, dawn, reveal, envision, illuminate, imagine, clear, foggy, focused, hazy, crystal, picture.


Hear, listen, sound(s), make music, harmonize, tune in/out, be all ears, rings a bell, silence, be heard, resonate, deaf, mellifluous, dissonance, question, unhearing.


Feel, touch, grasp, get hold of, slip through, catch on, tap into, make contact, throw out, turn around, hard, unfeeling, concrete, scrape, get a handle, solid.


Sense, experience, understand, think, learn, process, decide, motivate, consider, change, perceive, insensitive, distinct, conceive, know.

When you listen out for the preferred representational system, you can then adjust your communication to enhance rapport and connection with those around you. From there you can use Overlapping Representational System to lead the client to more flexibility within the communication.


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