NLP Eye Accessing Cues and Representational Systems

Eye accessing cues confirm which representation system (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, taste and smell) an individual uses. Other cues are the words they use, their posture, and how they breath.

In this article, we look at why eye accessing cues are important, together with the other indications of which representation systems someone is using and how this is useful. We’ll also remind you of our unique Richard Bandler, SNLP-certified 1:1 NLP training.

Why Eye Accessing Cues and Representation Systems Are Important

Our experience of the world is built from our sensory experience; the better we understand how our clients process their sensory experience, the better we:

  • Develop rapport. We can communicate with them using their preferred style, which increases rapport.
  • Understanding how they think in turn helps us understand their thinking strategies, which in turn helps us to help them remove blocks and be more effective.
  • Develop our sensory acuity. Practising this technique will significantly improve our sensory acuity, which in turn will help us develop our communication skills and help other clients more.

Eye Accessing Cues Diagram

This diagram shows the direction our eyes move, depending on what we are thinking. If we are recalling an image, our eyes tend to move top left; if we’re creating or changing an image, we’ll look top right. If we’re recalling a sound, we’ll look at the middle left; if we’re creating a sound, we’ll look at the middle right. If we’re accessing a feeling, we’ll look at the bottom left; if accessing self-talk, bottom right.

Eye Accessing Cues
Eye Accessing Cues
Their Right EyeTheir Left Eye
Visual Construct. Seeing new things or seeing them differently. Imagining.Visual Remembered. Seeing images as they saw them before.
Auditory Construct. Hearing new things or hearing them differently.Auditory Remembered. Remembering sounds as they heard them before.
Feeling emotions, touch and muscle movement. Both real and imaginedSelf Talk. Talking to oneself!

Eye Accessing Cues Exercise

Ask your partner the questions below, and record the direction of their eyes as shown in the eye accessing cues diagram above. What have you learnt about eye accessing cues? What have you learnt intuitively about the person?

NLP Eye Accessing Cues Questions

  • What colour are your favourite shoes?
  • How does your favourite song sound?
  • Are your hands warm?
  • When you’re sad, what colour might cheer you up?
  • How does it feel to slip on ice?
  • When you spoke to yourself last, what did you say?
  • What do you see when you make up a picture of yourself ten years into the future?
  • How does a great massage feel?
  • What is your favourite smell?
  • Imagine yourself driving your dream car (assuming you don’t have one yet!)
  • How do you sound when you’re in love?
  • Feel the weight of your feet on the floor.
  • What do you see when you imagine a bright light radiating from your body?
  • What does your favourite food taste like?

Representational System Words

Listen to the words your client uses to confirm which representational system they are using:

Visual: analyse, appear, aspect, attractive, bright, clear, cloudy, dark, demonstrate, examine, focus, far, glance, high, glance, green, horizon, illusion, illustrate, indigo, image, inspect, light, look, notice, obscure, outlook, perception, picture, scene, scope, see, show, sight, sketchy, survey, vague, view, watch, witness . . .

Auditory: acoustic, announce, articulate, audible, beat, converse, discuss, earshot, gossip, hear, hush, interview, listen, loud, mention, noise, oral, proclaim, pronounce, remark, ring, roar, rumour, say, screech, shrill, silence, speak, speechless, squeal, state, talk, tone, vocal . . .

Kinesthetic: active, ache, assume, bold, calm, cold, cheerful, concrete, famished, feel, flow, frightened, foundation, firm, grasp, grip, gut, intuition, passion, pressure, sensitive, settled, softly, solid, support, stress, sore, support, tension, terror, touch, tough, warm . . .

Smell: aroma, bouquet, essence, fragrance, musty, odour, pungent, smells, sniff, stench, stinks, sweet . . .

Taste: acid, acrid, alkaline, bitter, bland, burnt, citrus, delicate, delicious, piquant, rancid, salty, sharp, sour, spicy, smoky, tangy, tart, tasty . . .

Unspecified: activate, admonish, advise, anticipate, consider, create, decide, logic, manage, motivate, manage, organise, plan, prepare, think, understand . . .

Indicators of Representation System

Eye accessingWordsSitting Posture Breathing
VisualTopVisualLaid backChest (Fast)
AuditoryMiddleAuditoryMiddleMiddle (Medium)
KinestheticDownKinestheticUprightDiaphram (Slower)

Practical Applications of Eye Accessing Cues

  1. Developing rapport. If we’re aware of posture, breathing, and the precise words used and we match and mirror where appropriate, we’ll improve rapport.
  2. When we’re running through any technique, we can test whether our client is following our instructions by asking a test question. For example, if we’ve asked our client to visualise something, we can ask them to confirm a colour in the visualisation and check that their eyes look up. (I’ve found this to be 90% accurate and 100% useful).
  3. This approach confirms we’ve noted the right representational system in eliciting NLP strategies.
  4. Practising this approach will significantly improve our intuition in working with clients.

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