Now that I've given you the mission, I'm going to explain it. A "representational system" is one of three things: Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. When you think or remember, you are representing reality in your mind. For example, you can remember what happened yesterday by seeing mental pictures. That would be using your visual representational system. Or you could remember by recalling what someone told you yesterday or the sounds you heard yesterday. That would be using your auditory representational system. Or you could remember how you felt yesterday. That's using your kinesthetic representational system.
This all sounds terribly complicated, but it's not. We have three primary ways to store and recall reality: Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Many of our memories or imaginings include all three representational systems, of course. In other words, you remember what you saw, what you heard, and what you felt.
But all of us tend to "favor" one representational system over the others, in the same way that you are right-handed. You tend to use one representational system more than others. You tend to store your most important information in that representational system. You tend to respect and respond to information presented in that representational system more than you would if it was presented using a different representational system.
In other words, if you are a visually-oriented person, and I speak to you using visual terms, what I say will have more impact, will be more persuasive, will be more memorable to you than if I spoke to you using auditory terms.
Speaking in visual terms would be saying things like, "When you read the Quran, you will see things in a whole new light. You'll get the big picture." Speaking in auditory terms would be saying things like, "When you read the Quran, you are hearing the words of Mohammad the way Muslims around the world hear them. It may sound like what I'm saying does not make sense, but once you read the Quran, it will click for you." Speaking in kinesthetic terms would be saying things like, "When you read the Quran you'll grasp the overall negative, hostile feeling of Mohammad and Allah toward non-Muslims." Click here to find more examples of the kinds of words that indicate the three different representational systems.
But before attempting to speak someone's language, you must first know what it is. How can you know? By listening to the way people describe things when they talk. That's your assignment today. And ideally, you would keep it up every day until you can easily know what representational system people favor. Once you can do that, speaking someone's language is easy.
This exercise will increase your observational powers. And it will increase your ability to connect to people and influence them.
You can practice all day long. Anytime you are speaking with someone, pay attention to which particular kinds of words they use.
This is not as hard as you would think. If I told you to determine whether someone was right or left handed, you would be able to tell just by watching, don't you think? If you observed the person's behavior for awhile, you'd easily identify which hand they favor. You may have known the person for awhile and didn't know if they were right or left handed, but once you pay attention, once you're looking for it, you can find out just by paying attention.
You can do the same to discover the representational system they favor. It is only a matter of paying attention.
We need to reach people. We need to help them understand what we understand about the third jihad. We need to get past their barriers to listening. So we need to get really good at gaining rapport with people. One excellent way to improve our rapport and help people to listen to (and respect) what we say is to speak their language — to use the representational system they favor most when we speak.