My friend Will is an amazing musician. He can hear music and write it down, while differentiating between the most subtle of notes. He also has the uncanny ability to listen to a lecture and have almost total recall of the information. The interesting thing is, ask Will a question and watch his eyes. They dart from side to side like they are accessing his ears for data.
My friend Sarah, on the other hand, is a very talented painter. She can take watercolors and a brush and visually create a masterpiece while simply looking at something to recreate it. Ask Sarah a question and watch her eyes. They go up and to the left, like they are accessing a secret part of her brain.
Jeff, the handyman at church, can work magic with wood, metal or plastic. Give him some basic hand tools and he’ll create you a birdhouse, mailbox, or an elaborate piece of furniture. If you have an item that needs to be fixed, let him go hands on, and he’ll have it working in no time. Ask Jeff a question and watch his eyes. They go down and look directly at the palms of his hands.
For years I noticed that when I talked with my friends that they often responded differently when asked a question. There was often a subtle difference in their eyes. Some would look up, some down and others from side to side. I never gave it much thought until I picked up a book by Nicholas Boothman entitled, Convince Them in 90 Seconds or Less: How to Connect in Business. In this interesting book, Nick explains there are three basic learning styles, and each one is generally accompanied by subtle eye movements when accessing the brain for recall.
The three styles are..
- Visual Learner: takes in data through the eyes. Tends to look up and to the left when asked a question.
- Audio Learner: takes in data through the ears. Tends to look from side to side when asked a question.
- Kinesthetic Learner: takes in data through a sense of feel. Tends to look down at their hands when asked a question.
Here is the interesting part. If you want to connect with someone new at a party or networking event, just ask them an insightful question that requires some thinking and watch their eyes for clues. You’ll be surprised how clearly these cues come across.
Nicholas then recommends matching your speech responses to the learning type of the person you are conversing with to build rapport.
- For visual learners, you might respond, I see what you mean, I can see where you are going with that. Can you shed some light on that.
- For audio learners, you might respond, I hear what you are saying, that sounds good.
- For Kinesthetic learners, you might respond, I can grasp what you are saying, I feel your pain. (This is why Bill Clinton was so popular)
Since the three types process data differently, by crafting response to their learning style, you’ll build rapport faster and better relate to the person. Conversations will be more substantial and the person you are talking with will feel like you really understand them.
While this process is not a 100%, I’ve noticed that it works well with a majority of the people I’ve talked with. Once I know a general learning style, I might offer visual information to one person, sound to another, and a hands-on example to someone else.