Eye Accessing and Relationships
At a recent NLP evening MeetUp group here in Phoenix, Arizona, we focused on relationships as a ‘frame’ or ‘lens’ through which we were discovering basic NLP skills. I started the learning segment with states of being, the complete emotional and physiological experience a person is having in a particular moment in time. I often say that “STATE CREATES ABILITY.” We tend to be more or less resourceful states at different moments throughout our lives. We do things and buy things not because it makes sense to, but to satisfy our most highly desire states; to get a feeling that we want to have. Lots of things affect what ‘state’ we are experiencing and therefore how we are processing information and communicating with others.
When we are first in a romantic relationship, for example, we will tend to push all the buttons we can manage to push with our partners. One problem over time in a relationship, is that when we begin to be more comfortable in the relationship we will tend to revert to our more normal, habitual ways of behaving. That’s not such a big problem if our natural processing modes are exactly the same. But if we operate from different ‘primary representational systems,’ we find fewer of our romantic buttons get pushed over time. A relationship that was hot and heavy, begins to feel as if it not a strong as it was when we were first dating. If we don’t find a way to communicate the way our partner needs to receive information, and vice versa, the relationship may be in trouble.
That led me to delineating the whole idea of ‘representational systems’ and ‘eye accessing cues’ and the states that we are in when we are processing from one representational mode or another. In other words, when we are more visual we are generally in one kind of state. When we are in an auditory or kinesthetic (feeling) we are in a different states. We pay attention to different things than we would if we were in the visual modality. We think differently and feel differently. And it will seem as if we are speaking a different language when these representational states do not match with our partner.
In explaining this, I draw a circular face on the board and use smaller circles to make eyes. I then draw arrows to indicate looking up to thre right or left and then and arrow for horizontal right or left and then arrows for down. The generalization in understanding this model is that when we look up to access information, like pictures, we are accessing visual parts of our brain and nervous system. We access still different parts of our brain and nervous system when we look horizontally from side to side. We are sorting for auditory sounds and voices and speaking. When you see someone looking down to the right, it is generally kinesthetic or feeling and down to the right side is a more a digital type of processing, often involving mind-talk or thinking as in processing an equation.
The Eye-Accessing Modality Model
VISUAL – You will see people looking up to the right or left. People make pictures in their heads. They lean forward. Eyes are big and wide open. They speak fast and from high in the throat. Visual people tend to be well-groomed because how they look is important to them. They may move their hands to paint you a picture what they are talking about. NOTE: Sometimes visual eye accessing is defocused and straight ahead.
AUDITORY – People are looking horizontally to the right or left. Sounds become very important and sometimes interrupt thought. Individuals are often talking inside their heads or thinking about what to say next. Posture is median, more erect or straight and centered. Voice is more diaphramic and resonant, coming from deeper and lower in the throat. Hands and fingers may be on the face or pointed toward face or ears as if they are pointing at the ears in some way.
KINESTHETIC – People look down to the left. When people are operating in Kinesthetic mode, feeling both tactile and internal emotion experience becomes very important. They notice weight, texture, temperature, pressure, and perhaps smell and taste. (Auditory Digital is indicated when a person is looking down and to the right and are often engaged in mind talk)
Predicates in Language Affect State
Interestingly enough, we will speak in predicates of the modality we are operating in and our eyes tend to look toward the appropriate direction at the time we access the information whether it is Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic. Even more important for what we want to highlight here is that there are states that go along with each of the three (3) types of sensory processing. Think for a moment about how things look around you. Just notice what you can pay attention to visually. Make some pictures. Can you remember a time when things were going very well for you; a specific time when you felt really good? What did you see? What pictures specifically were you making in your head? We all have the ability to process in our world visually. We also have the ability to process in auditory and in kinesthetic and when we are in one state, we feel and behavior in different sensory specific and observable ways.
How Did We Never Notice This Before?
Amazingly, most people never notice that other people are moving their eyes as they communicate. Most people are not aware of any eye accessing at all. You may actually have to observe someone else to bring it into conscious awareness. Ask someone else a question that requires them to go visual like, “What did your Mother’s hair style look like when you were 10 years old.” Or, “What was the color of your first car?” You might ask, “How many windows are in your house?” You’ll want to watch eye-accessing cues and facial expressions closely when you ask these eliciting questions and then remember to ask them how they processed or thought about your eliciting question so that you make sure they made a picture instead of just saying something to themselves, which would be auditory and chances are they would have looked side to side when asked. Some people will look down or close their eyes when you ask the number of windows question because they imagine themselves in the house walking through and counting. That would be kinesthetic and probably also auditory. Eyes might go down and eye lids may blink, and then eyes may look horizontal right or left for the auditory part of the memory. You’ll want to be fast and pay attention or you will miss the eye accessing. You have a lifetime of ignoring these cues, so practice until you get some proficiency with eye accessing cues.
So, you now know that generally, when people look up they are accessing visual information. If they look side to side, it’s auditory and if they look down, it will be either kinesthetic (feeling). In addition, you can know that there is a state attached to each modality and we tend to prefer one modality first and more frequently; a lead representational system. And when people are in one state or another, they will tend to use language predicates that match the eye-accessing modality and state they are experiencing in the moment.
Visual – “I see how you have it pictured.”
Auditory - “I hear what you are saying.” And…
Kinesthetic – “It feels right to me.”
So, how does this relate to relationships?
Now that you have an idea about how the Eye-Accessing Representational System Model works, how can you use this information. The answer is that there are endless ways in which you can apply what you are learning about eye accessing, language and state. A person with a visual lead representational system will want to be ‘shown.’ They want a picture painted for them. People who are primarily auditory need to ‘hear’ and ‘listen’ for what sounds right. Kinesthetic people need to get a feeling and want to be touched. Make sense?
Imagine a relationship between a visual woman and a kinesthetic man. She wants him to take her places and show her off. She wants him to buy her things to show how much he cares. When he is fulfilled he wants it is because his need for touch is satisfied and when he is experiencing being loved and cared for. When he’s satisfied kinesthetically he will naturally feel good about buying things and going places with her. If he’s not getting that he doesn’t feel right about buying things to show his love. It’s not what would be important to him. If he’s not buying things and taking her places, she doesn’t experience what she needs and she is definitely not going to give him what he wants if this pattern persists for very long.
If our kinesthetic man from above was previously in a relationship with an auditory woman, she needed to hear him tell her he loved and cared and it is very likely that it just didn’t occur to him to say so. Again, that would not have been important for his to hear it, so he’s not likely to think of saying it. Most of us don’t think to ask for what we want. After all, shouldn’t the other person already know what we want and need. “Don’t you know me by now,” our man must have said when the relationship ended for no good reason he could understand.
So, wouldn’t it make more sense to ask for what you want, how you want it? And when you think about your relationship, it should be pretty easy now for you to determine what your partner needs and supply it to them. After all, what would you have to give up to make sure your partner is fulfilled? Probably not much! What difference do you think this will make in your relationship right now, and if you are single at the moment, wouldn’t you want to make sure you supply what’s needed in your next relationship?
Article by Bill Thomason