Reading Eye Movement in Communication
by Ron Kurtus (revised 4 February 2004)
Knowing the way the other person thinks is important in enhancing the communication experience. When you are talking with another person, the direction of his or her eyes can give an indication of what brain processes are occurring in the person.
You can determine whether the person is in a visual, auditory or kinesthetic mode of thinking. You can also tell if the person is making something up or recalling a past event.
These signs can be useful in communication and interpreting what the person really means.
Questions you may have include:
- How can you determine the mode of thinking of a person?
- How can you determine mental processes?
- How do you use this information?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Mode of thinking
According to the science of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), people use three major modes of thinking: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Communicating in the mode of the other person can help you gain rapport and improve the exchange of information.
You can get a good indication of which mode the person is in by observing his or her eye movement.
In the visual mode, the person thinks by visualizing things and events. He or she often describes things in terms of sight, saying such things as, "Do you see what I mean?" or "The way I look at things."
By observing the person's eyes, you will see that they will often look upward to one side or the other when talking. Sometimes such a person will gaze forward, unfocussed. These eye movements are an indication of thinking in a visual mode.
In the auditory mode, the person thinks by hearing sounds. He or she often describes things in terms of sound, saying such things as, "Do you hear what I mean?" or "The way it sounds to me is..."
By observing the person's eyes, you will notice that they will often look sideways, as if to one ear or the other. These eye movements are an indication of thinking in a auditory mode.
In the kinesthetic mode, the person thinks by how he or she feels. Things or events are described in terms of feelings, saying such things as, "Do you get the same feeling as me about that?" or "The way I feel about it is..."
By observing the person's eyes, you will notice that they will often look down and to one side or the other. These eye movements are an indication of thinking in a kinesthetic or feeling mode.
When you ask a person a question, he or she may answer by recalling some event or by logically determining or creating the answer. This creation may be the truth, but the mental process is also used when a person lies.
The direction the person moves his or her eyes can often determine whether the answer is from memory or not. It works the best with visual thoughts. A person will typically look upward to the left if reaching into memory and to the right if creating the answer or constructing imaged images.
Although most people follow this left-right rule, there are some who are just the opposite. It is good to determine which is which before jumping to conclusions. You can find out the correct directions of a person by asking some leading questions like "What was the color of your first car?" to get a response from memory, and "What is your opinion of the President?" to get a creative response.
Application of the knowledge of the other person's thinking patterns can enhance your ability to effectively communicate with the person.
People are more comfortable talking with someone who is thinking in the same manner. If you observe that the other person is thinking in an auditory manner, your communication and rapport will be better if you also speak in such terms.
Seeing whether the person is answering from memory or not can be effective in determining if he or she is telling the truth. If the person looked toward the creative side when answering a question that should be from memory, it could be an indication you were getting a less-that-truthful answer.
You can tell the way the other person thinks by watching the direction of his or her eyes, which will indicate whether the person is in a visual, auditory or kinesthetic mode of thinking. You can also tell if the person is making something up or recalling a past event. These signs can be useful in communication and interpreting what the person really means.
Communication is a two-way street
Resources and references
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) - NLPInfo.com
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