Ask Dr. Tracy

"Inner Languages"

If you haven't read "The Amazing Power of Mirroring", now's a good time, because "Inner Languages" are really just an advanced form of mirroring. With basic "Mirroring," you establish rapport with someone and give them a feeling that they can trust you. The next step is to learn their secret Inner Language so that you can communicate with them in "their language" and make them feel totally understood.

So often, in dating and romantic relationships, we simply don't "connect." Even husbands and wives, who know each other better than anyone, often fail to "connect" because they've never learned each other's Inner Language.

Here's how it happens. A husband, trying for a romantic anniversary dinner, reserves a sunset-view table at a fine restaurant, orders his wife's favorite wine, and proceeds to have a wonderful dinner, sure that he's done everything right. His wife, meanwhile, gets increasingly cranky and has a splitting headache by the time they get home.

What happened? Simple. His inner language is visual, and hers is auditory. The restaurant was busy and noisy and their table, despite its great view, was near the kitchen. He blissed out on the sunset, and like many of the diners around them, wasn't bothered by the background noise.

His wife saw that no other tables were available in the packed restaurant and tried to appreciate the view, but clattery kitchen noises dominated the whole dinner for her. She decided it was pointless and ungracious to complain, but kept thinking, "What the hell is wrong with him? How can he think this raucous place is romantic?"

This couple, until they came to me for counseling, never knew Inner Languages existed. Once they discovered that theirs were different, all sorts of frictions between them became understandable and easily manageable. She could appreciate his eye for beauty, he could appreciate her ear for music. From then on, it was easy for them to decide on a romantic place for dinner, and to agree on countless other things where they'd both previously sensed a baffling opposition from the other.

Overview of Inner Languages

First, the source. My concept of "Inner Languages" derives from an erudite specialty within pyschology known as "NeuroLinguistic Programming," or more commonly, "NLP." There are lots of different versions and interpretations of NLP; Tony Robbins, for example, uses a version very effectively in his motivational seminars. So to set the record straight: I don't claim that "Inner Languages" is a totally original invention of mine, nor do I claim that it's an interpretation of NLP which will satisfy NLP purists. Now that you've suffered through the disclaimer, if you want to know what works, read on.

We all perceive the world through sight, sound and feelings -- yet in the same setting, different people will notice different things. NLP helps explain why that is.

Some of us are more "tuned into" the world through what we see, others through what we hear, and others through what we feel or "sense" about a situation. The problem with these differences is they're invisible. So while we're all used to people being different in height or hair color, we're surprised when someone else has a totally different "take" on a situation than we do. Like the wife in the restaurant, we don't know how someone else can have such a different perception of what to us seems obvious.

The rest of this article will help you figure out whether you lean more toward being Visual, Auditory, or Feelings in your own Inner Language; and it will help you recognize the Inner Languages of others and how best to relate to them.

Just remember that you don't have to become an instant Inner Languages recognition expert. Your romantic relationship skills will jump immediately and dramatically if you simply:

  1. Expect these invisible Inner Language differences to crop up.

  2. When they do, try not to feel like your views are being attacked, but rather that your date or lover is adding a new and interesting "take" on the situation.

Here's a quick rundown on the three Inner Language types.

The Visual Person

Visual men and women are often "Type A" personalities, which comes in part from wanting to dash around and see as much as they can. Conscious of their looks, they're usually dressed appropriately for whatever they're doing, even if it's gardening.

They express themselves in visual terms. For example, when agreeing with you, they'll say, "I can see that." Watch closely when you ask them a question which requires some thought; before replying, their eyes will look up, as if they're visualizing the answer. Visual people are often slow in expressing their feelings.

Even if you're not visual, a visual person can be a good match for you, bringing beauty into your life in many ways, such as planning the route for your weekend trip so that it becomes a more scenic getaway. To relate better with a visual person, describe things to them in visual terms and say, "Can you picture that?" rather than "How does that sound to you?" or "How do you feel about that?"

The Auditory Person

Auditory men and women tend to be somewhat more relaxed. Like the wife in the above case history, they are unusually sensitive to sounds, from the balance on your stereo to a distant diesel truck on a quiet evening.

As you might guess, auditory people tend to be good communicators; they enjoy talking and can read your mood in the tone of your voice. Tuned to the sounds of words, they are often quite analytical, noticing inconsistencies and preferring things clearly stated rather than implied.

They express themselves in auditory terms, e.g., "That sounds good to me." Before replying to a question, their eyes will glance from right to left, like watching a tennis match, which means they're having a quick conversation with themselves about the answer.

An auditory person can be a good match for a non-auditory person, even if they don't immediately notice your new hairdo or that you've shaved your moustache. They're more interested in the "inner you" and how your mind works, and they'll listen avidly to you telling about how your day went.

Talking their language is as simple as saying, "I hear what you're saying," instead of "I can see that," or "I feel that way, too."

The Feelings Person

Feelings people are generally the most laid-back. They're relatively unconcerned about their appearance and love hugging, eating, and relaxing.

They express themselves in feelings terms, like, "I'm comfortable with that." Before responding to a question, their eyes will tend to look down, as if they're consulting their "gut feelings" on the subject.

A feelings person can be a good match for any other type. Although they tend to rank lowest on the neatness scale, they're sensitive to your moods, nurturing and empathetic. Give them lots of hugs and touching, and talk their language by saying, "I understand how you feel," rather than "I see what you mean," or "I hear you."

Related Keywords: Love Strategies, Dating Strategies, Making Love Grow, Keeping Love Alive

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