Use “mode matching” to connect with people

People tend to experience the world primarily through one of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell or taste. People also tend to communicate using the sense they’re most comfortable with. Knowing which sense most resonates with someone can greatly enhance your ability to connect with that person.

Visual people: “I see what you mean.”

Auditory people: “Sounds good to me.”

Get into the habit of listening for these types of clues in your conversations, to determine how the people you speak with regularly experience their world. Using the same sense they do—called mode matching—will build a deeper connection and get your messages across more clearly.

Talking with a visual person:

When someone says, “Let me show you what I think we should do…”

Your answer should be something like, “Looks good to me,” or, “We definitely see eye-to-eye on this.”

Talking with a tactile (touch-oriented) person:

If someone says, “I can’t seem to put my finger on the problem…”

You might answer, “Let’s lay it out again and see if we can get our arms around it.”

When you mode match, you make the conversation richer and more memorable for the other person, because you’re speaking in a vocabulary comfortable to them. They’ll probably have no idea why they feel the connection, but the conversation will go much more smoothly.

The opposite is also true: When you don’t mode match, you can leave the other person feeling frustrated, or like they’re not being understood—and you’ll have a much harder time getting your own message across.

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