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NLP Predicates

Short video:

In NLP training, the senses through which we experience the world, are referred to as representational systems. The words used to describe these systems are called predicates. Hence, you have several different systems working for you: Visual predicates (for things you see), auditory predicates (for things you hear), kinaesthetic predicates (things you feel or tactile sensations), AD or self talk predicates (also called labelling system), olfactory predicates (things you smell), and gustatory predicates (things you taste).


The Neuro Linguistic Programming community says that we all have a system that we prefer to another and hence, process most information through it. This is, of course, a generalisation, yet it will give you a clue as to what might be going on right inside someone else’s’ internal map of the world.  This preferred system can be determined through physiology and predicates used in a conversation. Let’s look at an example:

-The way I look at this, is that it is still rather unclear. (Almost totally visual predicates).

-I really don’t feel comfortable with this. (Tactile/Kinaesthetic predicates).

-This doesn’t sound right to me. (Auditory predicates).

Knowing the preferred representational system (and therefore the predicates they prefer) of someone is useful in virtually any context. Imagine you go to Spain and communicate in English. Chances are, the general gist of what you want to say will get across (hopefully!), yet the finer distinctions of what you are saying are lost. It is the same with representational systems. If you present information in somebody else’s preferred system, this information will be virtually irresistible to them!

Below is a chart which outlines the types of words/predicates people will use more often than not in a preferred system. Remember the preferred system can change depending on the context they are in.

Predicates Chart


Memorize by seeing pictures and are less distracted by noise.  Often have trouble remembering and are bored by long verbal ‘instructions because their mind may wander.  They are interested by how the program looks.


Typically are easily distracted by noise.  They can repeat things back to you easily & learn by listening.  They like music and like to talk on the phone.  Tone of voice and the words used can be important.


Often they talk slowly and breathy.  They respond to physical rewards & touching. They memorize by doing or walking through something.  They will be interested in a program that feels right or gives them a gut feeling.


They spend a fair amount of time talking to themselves.  They memorize by steps, procedures, sequences. They will want to know the program makes sense.  They can also sometimes exhibit characteristics of other rep systems.

  • 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

V    Visual

People who are visual often stand or sit with their heads and/or bodies erect, with their eyes up.  They will be breathing from the top of their lungs.  They often sit forward in their chair and tend to be organized, neat, well-groomed and orderly.  They memorize by seeing pictures, and are less distracted by noise.  They often have trouble remembering verbal instructions because their minds tend to wander.  A visual person will be interested in how your program LOOKS.  Appearances are important to them.  They are often thin and wiry.

A    Auditory

People who are auditory will move their eyes sideways (remember Richard Nixon?).  They breathe from the middle of their chest.  They typically talk to themselves, and are easily distracted by noise.  (some even move their lips when they talk to themselves.)  They can repeat things back to you easily, they learn by listening, and usually like music and talking on the phone.  They memorize by steps, procedures, and sequences (sequentially).  The auditory person likes to be TOLD how they’re doing, and responds to a certain tone of voice or set of words.  They will be interested in what you have to say about your program.

K    Kinaesthetic

People who are kinaesthetic will typically be breathing from the bottom of their lungs, so you’ll see their stomach go in and out when they breathe.  They often move and talk verrry slooowly.  They respond to physical rewards, and touching.  They also stand closer to people than a visual person.  They memorize by doing or walking through something.  They will be interested in your program if it “feels right”.

Ad    Auditory Digital (self talk, or labelling system)

This person will spend a fair amount of time talking to themselves.  They will want to know if your program “makes sense”.  The auditory digital person can exhibit characteristics of the other major representational systems.

The more you are aware of these fantastic inner worlds, the more fun and instant rapport you can have fun dancing in this ‘rave’ new world.

You can also read information about NLP Predicates in our glossary.

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