How to Understand Other People?

“In the right key one can say anything. In the wrong key, nothing: the only delicate part is the establishment of the key”.
George Bernard Shaw

Understanding people is key to your effectiveness as a communicator, and a key component of a good NLP training.

All NLP skills are as effective as your ability to read people.

Every human on earth has their own belief systems, the way to construct their reality, and also the way to sort through the vast amount of information they are bombarded with.

Based on their model of reality they have learned to navigate through life. They have an internal strategy to make decisions, develop relationships, motivate themselves and evaluate things.

To be able to communicate with people you need to understand how they think and adapt your communication strategy to their way of thinking. When you have mastered this skill, they will feel understood by you and you will be able to get your point across.

This article summarizes the basic personality types based on the NLP personality profiling tool – The Meta Programs. This is probably one of the most useful NLP tools in our repertoire of NLP skills.

If you come to me to receive NLP coaching, I will invest some time in helping you master the Meta Programs. We will go through many exercises designed for you to learn to identify those, and go through various case study scenarios where you will practice this powerful skill.

Meta Programs are internal sorting patterns that allow us to unconsciously decide what we pay attention to.

They are among the deepest filters of perception and the key to the way we process information.

If you want to be a master communicator in your business and in personal life, you have to know how to find the right key for communication with each person you encounter.

Only through understanding your client’s mental patterns can you expect to get your message across. In the loan business, understanding Meta Programs gives you an incredible advantage when you communicate with your clients.

If you can predict your client’s emotional state, you can predict his or her behaviors. People act on emotion more often than on logic.

People buy not because they need something but because they want something. People take action because taking action is congruent with their values.

When you understand the Meta Programs you can quickly understand your client’s basic communication style. Once you know that style, you can design your messages to work within that style. Your clients will respond to this instantly and you will gain an instant sense of trust with them.

There are about twenty five key Meta Programs that have been identified as sorting patterns for individuals.

Here I will describe the Meta Programs that most affect the persuasion process and individual communication styles, based on the work of Psychologist Carl Jung. His work serves as the basis for our understanding of communication styles. For the purpose of this book, we will use the most basic and simple classifications of personality styles.

Analytical (Logical, Sensory, Nonassertive, Introvert)

Analytical people are slow-paced, methodical and steady. They are well prepared, good with numbers, processes and systems. Often, they are perfectionists who enjoy problem solving and in-depth conversations. Analytical people make good accountants, auditors, book-keepers. They are also punctual.

In business relations, they tend to be skeptical from the start. They never make decisions on instinct. They may consider and analyze without acting. They want to fully understand and assess the situation before they react. They will spend a lot of time waiting. In conversation they often use long and convoluted sentences, speak as if the world controls them, things happen to them, they use incomplete sentences with subject or verb missing, use conditionals such as would, could, might, may. To effectively communicate with them, we must provide evidence, proof, facts, details, complete explanations, and as much documentation as we can find. Analytical people need time to “think about it” and cannot be pressured into making a decision now. When we communicate with the analytical client we may use the language, “now that you have all the facts….…”, “now that you have had a chance to examine the facts….…”, “now that you know the details and the numbers make sense….…”, “consider this….…”, “let’s think about it….…”. Using this kind of language we support their subconscious processes and establish rapport, making a business transaction much easier and quicker. Analytical clients are more likely to make a decision if we suggest that this is “what they have been waiting for”, or ask “haven’t you waited long enough to get what you really want?” A good sentence to use is “once you have done this, you will understand why….…”


Proactive clients tend to initiate. If they come to you they are already motivated. They want things done now and are task oriented. They typically use short sentences; noun, active verb, tangible object. They use crisp and short sentence structure, are direct and speak as if they are in control of their world. The most effective language to use with these clients is “go for it”, “run away with it”, “right now”, “let’s get it done”. Be prepared to speak quickly and get to the point as soon as you can. These clients should be “closed” in a business transaction with an alternate choice such as, “would you prefer to go this route or that route”.

Socializer (Emotional, Feeling, Assertive, Extrovert)

The Socializer is the one who loves being in the center of attention. They like to exaggerate and generalize. They are talkative and spur of the moment types. They are enthusiastic, friendly and optimistic and tend to go with their intuition. At an extreme they are flighty, and seem to be going in all directions. To effectively interact with this type of a client is easy but time consuming, as Socializers have little concept of time. They need recognition and therefore you need to constantly acknowledge their sense of self- worth. Keep your presentation upbeat, enthusiastic and exciting – no boring facts and figures.

Amiable (Emotional, Feeling, Nonassertive, Introvert)

Amiable clients are relaxed, casual and are very feeling-oriented people. They seldom take risks in any way and have hard time saying no (they have equally hard time saying yes). Amiable people are slow to make decisions and don’t like any arguments. To effectively communicate with this type of a client, avoid sounding aggressive, overly excited or too enthusiastic. Gentle is a key word here. The Amiable needs constant reassurance that he or she is making a good decision. You will need to build rapport and appear to be in the process of forging an important relationship before this client will be convinced of your sincerity. This client must “feel right” before making a decision. The language to use with these clients includes phrases such as “just follow your gut feelings”. “Do what your feelings tell you”; “you feel it when you have made the right the decision”.


Visual people represent things in their minds with pictures. They enjoy looking at pictures, diagrams, charts, videos and graphs. They use words such as “see”, “picture” and “look”. They use phrases like “This is how it looks to me”; “I can picture this happening”. They speak rapidly as pictures flash through their minds. The vocal tone is often nasal, high pitched and often strained. Their gestures are very quick and angular; their breathing tends to be high in the chest, shallow and quick. You will observe muscle tension, usually in their shoulders and abdomen. They often have hunched shoulders and an extended neck. When you interact with a visual client, match the tempo of their speech, and use visual words. Use pictures and diagrams. When interacting with these clients, use the following language: “I see your point”, “I want you to take a look at this”, “Am I painting a clear picture?” or “This seems crystal clear, doesn’t it?” and “I see beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true”.


People who represent things in their minds with spoken word are termed Auditory. An Auditory client will speak rhythmically and moderately fast. Their gestures are slow and fluid. When they speak, you will hear words such as “hear”, click”, “tone”, “and listen”. Auditory people use phrases such as “It sounds good to me” and “That doesn’t sound right” or “It doesn’t ring a bell”. When your client folds his or her arms, it usually indicates auditory accessing. You will also observe them slouch their shoulders and their head tilt slightly to one side.

When you interact with an Auditory client moderate your vocal rate, breathe deeply, and use words that fall into the auditory linguistic patterns such as “that sounds right, doesn’t it?” or “I hear what you are saying”, “I want to make this loud and clear”, “that information is accurate word for word”, “this is in harmony with your life”, “does this resonate with you?”


People who represent things in their minds with feelings and sensations are termed Kinesthetic. When you observe a Kinesthetic client, you will notice that he or she speaks slowly and uses words such as “feel”, “grasp”, “touch”, ”contact”. Kinesthetic people use phrases such as “It feels right”, or “I am in touch with things”. They speak in slow tempo. Kinesthetic people look down a great deal and their breathing is deep and slow. Many times they take long pauses between words and have a low, deep tonality. The best way to communicate with a kinesthetic person is to slow down. Breathe deeply and remain calm in your communication. Use words they use. Typical phrases to use with Kinesthetic clients are: “ I feel that I am in touch with what you are saying”, “I want you to get a grasp on this”, “that information is solid as a rock”, “What it boils down to is that it feels right”, “I am not sure I am following you”.

I have found that when I am on the same communication channel as my clients, all business transactions happen faster and easier. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using language consistent with the personality and communication styles of your clients. Use the appropriate words that connect with their thinking patterns and speaking rates consistent with their communication styles.

Direction Channels – How do your clients make decisions?

The observation underlying the direction channel Meta Program concept is that everything people do is either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Everyone moves towards some things and away from others. No one responds the same way in all situations but everyone has a dominant mode, a strong tendency toward one channel or the other. Some clients will be energetic, curious and excited when moving towards something they desire. Others will be cautious, wary and protective, seeing the world as a perilous place and wanting to take actions to avoid harm and threats.

In our business it is very important to determine whether our clients move towards rewards and goals or away from fears. The communication strategy you use, should match that of your client. If you use a wrong Meta Program, you will not be successful in establishing rapport. A client who operates out of fear of loss will not respond to images of an exciting future. You may find yourself trying to move your client toward a decision, while he or she wants to back away, becoming upset and resentful.

Once you recognize a client’s pattern, you can motivate the client more effectively. “Away-from” clients are energized by threats. You can easily recognize an away-from client by listening to their language. They will mention situations to be avoided, gotten rid of, and problems. Their body language will include gestures of exclusion, shaking head and arms indicating that something is to be avoided. Because “away-from” clients motivation is triggered when there is a problem to be solved, create an image of a problem they will avoid when taking a particular type of a loan. Use expressions such as: “won’t have to”, “prevent”, “solve”, “avoid”, “fix”, “not have to deal with”, “let’s find out what’s wrong”, and “there will be no problems”. Using appropriate influencing language will get a client’s complete attention. The rapport that you will establish will be deeper because you have matched how the person thinks.

“Toward-clients”, on the other hand, are focused on their aspirations. They think in terms of goals to be achieved. These clients are motivated to have, to get, to achieve, to attain. You will easily recognize toward-clients by observing their body language and listening to their speech. You will notice frequent head nodding, pointing, and gestures of inclusion. Because “away-from” clients’ motivations are triggered by the desire to achieve goals and aspirations.

If you are unsure which category your client fits into, ask a question, “Why is getting this loan is important to you?” By listening to their answer you will immediately recognize their pattern. Another question to ask is “What do you want in…:” or “What will having……..mean to you?”

Understanding your client’s direction channel is critically important to the creation of rapport and the persuasion processes.

Frame of Reference channel (sort)

The frame of reference Meta Program determines how people judge the results of their actions. Some people have an external frame of reference; they know they have done something well if someone tells them so. External people need other peoples’ opinions, outside directions, and feedback from external sources to stay motivated. They are motivated when someone else decides. When talking to them you will observe them leaning forward watching your response. Their facial expressions indicate they want to know from you if it was all right.

Others have an internal frame of reference, they know from their “gut feelings”. As an effective communicator, you will want to match your client’s frame of reference. Internal reference clients are motivated to gather information from outside sources and then they decide about it, based on internal standards. They resist when anyone tells them what to do, or decides for them. They usually sit upright, often point to self, use minimal gestures and facial expressions.

Determine whether your client is externally or internally motivated, by asking direct questions. “Who will you involve in making this decision?”, or indirect questions, “How do you know you have made the right decision?” Another excellent question to ask is “Where do you know that?” An internal person will point to a part if their body, while the external person will either not understand the question or give a clear external answer.

General/Specific Sort

General/specific sort refers to a person’s strategies when analyzing situations. If your client is general sorter, he or she will want to overview the big picture. These people are interested in a vision, an overall view of the situation. Details annoy them and they have no patience for specific information. They want to know if the idea “makes general sense”. They do not want to bother themselves with the “how”. General sorters will be annoyed when you give them too many details.

On the other hand a specific sorter will want details, lots of details. They will want to read the fine print.

You will need to use different language, depending on which type of a client you are interacting with. To find out which category your client fits into, ask “What is most important to you in this situation?” A general sorter will give you a big picture answer, while a specific sort client will give you many details.

There are many additional Meta Programs, which I discuss in great detail at our Live with Power Licensed Practitioner of NLP trainings.

Understanding the Meta Programs will allow you to become a Master communicator. You will save valuable time in your interactions with your clients, you will consistently establish quick rapport, and you will be able to diffuse “problems”. You will be able to hear and pick up the patterns your clients use without having to actually ask the questions. You will be able to immediately use the Influencing language that is just right for the situation. Your clients will feel in rapport with you, and your revenues will soar.

Understanding Meta Programs is a key skill in your life. You will easily develop connection with people, be able to mitigate conflict and create platforms for understanding, even with the most difficult people.

One of the key life strategies for success is understanding Meta Programs. Invest in learning this skill through a good systemic NLP training.