Hi, my name’s Sam Dyer and welcome to the Life More Powerful podcast. In this episode, I’m going to talk to you about why you should mind your language. Probably not in the way you immediately think though.

Nelson Mandela said:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language that goes to his heart.”

So, why is that important? Have you ever had an experience where you just got what someone was saying to you? I know I have. It feels like it flows and what they say is easy to understand. In the same way, you will have experienced the opposite. It feels completely different doesn’t? It can feel almost as though your brain is tripping up by trying to understand exactly what they mean. 

Wouldn’t it be better if you could really get across what you want to say when it really counts? You could be writing an email or having a difficult conversation with someone. You might be in sales or presenting to a group. Often we think of what to say, less often we think about how to say it.

Each of us has a preferred set of language that we use, which is sense-based. 


Visual words relating to the sense of sight

Auditory words relating to the sense of sound

Kinaesthetic words relating to the sense of touch

Audio Digital words relating to internal dialogue or self-talk

If you are talking to someone who has a visual preference, use phrases such as “it looks bright” “do you see what I mean?” “let’s not take the shine off it”.

If you are talking to someone who has an auditory preference, say things like “are we singing from the same hymn sheet?” “that sounds great” and “does it ring a bell?”.

Someone with a kinaesthetic preference will use words relating to feeling, both in terms of touch and emotion. So, say things like “how does that feel?” “what’s your gut feeling on this?” and “let’s push on through”.

An audio-digital preference can be a little harder to pick up. For those people, use phrases such as “consider this” “the next logical step” or “let’s analyse”. 

I can totally understand if at this point you’re thinking… how the hell am I supposed to do all this? So, how do you really understand someone’s language preference and how do you cater to a group? 

To understand someone’s language preference, you need to listen. I do mean listen, not just hear. So often we only listen so that it becomes our turn to speak. Sometimes, we don’t even wait for our turn! Practise active-listening. That’s when you listen attentively, you listen to understand. You’ll soon be able to recognise the language preference of the speaker. Bear in mind, it is a preference not an absolute, so you will hear a mixture of sensory-based language. And yet, which is the one that shines brightest? Did you notice the visual language that I just used then? “Shines brightest” is visual language.

What do you do if you’re addressing a group? If it’s a group, it makes sense that they’ll be a mixture of language preferences, doesn’t it? Absolutely! So, what do you need to do? Mix it up! Become aware of your own language preference and then add other phrases using different language. Keep it natural though and stay you. 

Here’s a two-part challenge for you. 

Part one

Look back at your emails over the last couple of days or so. Really start to recognise what your language preference is. Listen to yourself and the language you use. 

Part two

Pick five people who you have regular communication with. Using whatever intelligence you can – conversations, emails, texts etc – work out their language preference and start using more of that type of language with them. What difference does it make to them and to you?

Remember what Nelson Mandela said:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language that goes to his heart.”

Thank you for listening. My name’s Sam Dyer and you’ve been listening to a Life More Powerful podcast. 

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