How Making Sense Leads To Deeper Connections

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How Making Sense Leads To Deeper Connections

March 11, 2009 Persuasion 5

Today’s post is about the words people use to describe and define their experience, and how you can hear and respond to those words in a way that builds richer and deeper connection, on the phone and anywhere else. Because we assemble our sense of the world by using our sense systems, and because words are symbols for the sense we make, words play an essential role in building bridges between people’s diverse understandings of the world. Words can help you in your practice in the art of persuasion. 

What can I tell you about words that might surprise you?  

WhisperWe learn to talk with words at a time in our life when nobody can tell us how.  We do this out of an intense curiosity, driven by the awareness that with the right words, we can change our circumstance.  The result is that words are handles on chunks of reality that allow us to manipulate the thoughts and actions of others whenever we have a need. The challenge for human beings is found in the fact that words are symbols for experience, and we each experience reality in our own way.  So while we may use the same words, we mean different things. 

Some languages are highly nuanced about certain experiences.  The Inuit, for example, live in an icy environment where subtle changes could mean life or death.  As a result, they have many more words for snow than the ones I know in my own language (wet snow, powder, lots, a little).  Yet all languages contain words that reference at least our five agreed-upon-senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and feeling – and many people have a dominant sensory system in the words that they choose to describe their experience. 

Some people are more visual about their lives, and they prefer to talk about what they see.  Others are more auditory, and they pay closer attention to what they hear.  Yet others are feeling types, and their attention more naturally goes to sensations and emotions.  Since you’re not able to see the person you are talking with on the phone, these sensory words may take on a greater significance and give you a way to make contact with people in a more personal way.  

Some sensory systems become dominant depending on the situation, and you can hear it in the way they talk.  A person talking to their sweetheart on the phone may be imagining what he or she looks like, or listening to the sweet sound of that voice, or getting in touch with feelings as they hang on every word.  The point is, people make sense, and you can make sense out of the sense they make by noticing the kinds of sensory words they use with you over the phone.  In my next post, it will be my pleasure to show you, tell you about, and hand you a powerful communication tool to help you build richer and deeper connections over the phone. 

Meanwhile, using whatever words you prefer, I’d love to have your questions and comments.

Be well,


5 Responses

  1. Mick Markova says:

    Love this post! I think that people who use the most of this sensory language are more interesting to listen to than people who are limited to one system or are just vague.

  2. J.D. Meier says:

    Good stuff.

    I think the big thing I found is slowing down and choosing my words carefully for auditory and speeding up for those that prefer more visual.

    Related to this, I found it’s important to figure out whether somebody prefers concrete, abstract, random or sequential. For example, if somebody’s more sequential than random, I’ll lead them to the point along a logical path, but if they don’t mind random, I’ll hop around the points with them.

    • J.D.! Missed you, welcome back and thanks for your insights! And nice distinction on sequential or random, concrete or abstract. Honestly, first time I’ve heard this!


  3. Topmaker says:

    Well put Dr.K,
    As for making sense of what they are trying to tell with their words; it is in their tone and delivery !
    Even the most abstract remarks can be understood if spoken in a certain tone of voice, agreeing with them is a different story.

    • @Topmaker,
      Thanks for stopping by, and please do come back and comment again.

      Not to be ironic, but I agree that agreeing with them is a different story. In this case, we’re considering connection. Connection is a foundation for positive change, because with it, persuasion and conflict resolution become much simpler propositions!


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