Effective communication: Using Visual, Auditory & Kinesthetic words

In business, and especially Silicon Valley, you need to learn to be an effective communicator. An effective communicator is not someone who can waffle on for hours on end but someone who is effective in getting results from their communication. Extrovert or introvert, it doesn’t matter. An effective communicator gets heard & understood. If you are a great engineer but cannot effectively communicate then you are missing out on an important part of your career influence. Being able to communicate effectively is within everyone’s reach. It is something most humans are capable of doing and with the right tools can sharpen.

To be an effective communicator you need to learn & be always aware of the 3 human primary modes that people use to process thoughts during communication. They are Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Just like being right-handed primary, each of us uses one of the 3 modes as our primary form to convey messages during communication. Understanding which one the person you are speaking with is using is a step forward to being a better communicator.

Primary modes

head-positionsThe following applies for right-handed people. For left-handed switch everything I tell you below to the other side i.e. right to left and left to right.


  • Speaker will primarily look up / up and to the side as they process information (answers to your questions). As if looking into the sky for an answer.
  • These people are known as “the fast talkers” because visual memories are a lot quicker to process and put into words.


  • Speaker will primarily move their eyes left to right / right to left (from ear to ear) as “they need to hear” what they are saying.
  • These people are moderate speed talkers.


  • Speaker will primarily look down and to the right as “they need to feel” what they are saying.
  • Typically these people will be slow talkers because to feel their response before speaking, this takes longer to come out.
  • Kinesthetic people usually have beards.

Note: Don’t get confused with people looking down and to the left – this is common when people are having internal chatter like reciting a preplanned script e.g. actors or individuals during an interview with a pre memorized script/s.

Communicating effectively

people-communicatingYou may have come across individuals where you just couldn’t click together or something was not right after your discussion. Like you did not understand each other. There is a high chance this may have been the choice of words you used to communicate with. The other party’s primary mode of communication might have been different to yours and thus the two of you did not really understand each other hence the feeling of disconnect.

To avoid this happening again, try to recognize the other person’s primary human mode. Once recognized, add (or change) some words & sentences in your communication. It isn’t about changing what you say but how you say it.

Step 1 – Identify there (speaker’s) primary mode

  • Listen to their choice of words, how their eyes move and speed of speech. My previous post on understanding each other using primary human modes talks about other indicators you can use to get this information.
  • Ask about the weather “how is the weather today?” – always a favorite. Is the weather, sunny (visual), warm (kinesthetic) or windy (auditory). Or, “is your car” – yellow (visual), safe (kinesthetic – Volvo drivers) or noisy (auditory). etc… you get the drift right?

Step 2 – Add the appropriate “words” into your communication

Here is a list of keywords you can throw into all your communication in order to get a “better” message across and be heard or simply understood.

Visual Auditory Kinesthetic
an eyeful
short sighted
sight for sore eyes
take a peek
tunnel vision
bird’s eye view
naked eye
paint a picture
make music
tune in/out
rings a bell
quiet as a mouse
voiced an opinion
clear as a bell
give me your ear
loud and clear
purrs like a kitten
on another note
get hold of
catch on
tap into
heated argument
pull some strings
sharp as a tack
smooth operator
make contact
throw out
firm foundation
get a handle on
get in touch with
hand in hand
hang in there

Step 3 – Add the appropriate “sentences” into your communication

Step it up a bit and use appropriate sentences to respond back with or ask questions. Some of the common ones you can use for each primary mode include:

Visual Auditory Kinesthetic
Let’s look at it differently.
See how this works for you.
I can’t quite picture it.
Let’s draw a diagram or map.
I’d like to get a different perspective.
I never forget a face.
That sounds about right.
That rings a bell.
It’s coming through loud and clear.
Tune in to what I’m saying.
Clear as a bell.
That’s music to my ears.
That feels right to me.
I can’t get a grip on this.
Stay in touch.
Get in touch with.
That doesn’t sit right with me.
I have good feelings about this.
My gut is telling me.
I follow your drift.

Step 4 – Have fun!

Don’t forget that having fun is when you are having the most effective communication. Once you are connecting and communicating effectively with the other person doors open to opportunities and you really get to learn and grow from the experience. Everyone has a story to tell and once you are listening and communicating effectively the world is your oyster.

Has this helped you in any way? Please share your story below.


Author: Ernest W. Semerda

IQBOXY cofounder, GSDfaster founder and The Road To Silicon Valley founder/editor. Follow me on Twitter: @ernestsemerda or Google+.

  • Pingback: Microexpressions: Everybody Lies()

  • Andrew Partolo

    I don’t think you should be presenting this as your work.

  • I enjoyed this article and bookmarked it for further study. Thank you, Ernest.