VAK is the name we give to the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic preference that is usually the starting point for any NLP discussion on communication because it is the basic structure of the language patterns we choose. Visual is of course what a child chooses if they are visually aware and think in images. Auditory preferenced children like to talk, listen and enjoy sounds in preference to pictures. Kinaesthetic children are more physical and active and more sensitive to atmosphere and temperature. Listen for the words used when they are talking to you and use their pattern to make the best connection. A quick way to check out which your own child is, is to ask them a simple question such as "What was your favourite lesson today?" Then listen to how they tell you. Are they talking in pictures or sounds or more action and feelings? Use the same words back to them to encourage them to tell you more. For example:
Child - we did a really funny thing in class today (did is an action word - kinaesthetic)
Parent - what did you do?
Child - you should have seen the teachers' face (seen is a visual word)
Parent - what did it look like?
Child - the teacher told us about the Vikings? (told is an auditory word)
Parent - what did he/she say?
Mismatched responses would be:
Parent - what did you see / hear?
Parent - what did he/she do?
Parent - what did they look like?
NLP Meta Programs are the way your mind works and includes patterns we’ve talked about a lot such as :
- associated/disassociated (connecting with your own feelings or standing apart and viewing them like a fly on the wall)
- away from/towards (avoiding something or positively aiming for something)
- matching/mismatching (looking for similarities or differences)
- internally / externally referenced (checking in with your own values or looking for the approval of others)
- big chunk/small chunk (big picture or detailed thinking)
- choices/ process (options or plans)
Listen for the thinking pattern and match it for achieving rapport.
Then there are filters we use that get in the way of clear and clean communication such as:
Distortions – assumptions about someone’s thinking or behaviour
-mistaken cause and effect i.e the idea that someone makes you feel something (no, you choose to feel it)
Deletions – vague statements, vague comparisons (i.e better than, worse than)
Generalisations – everyone, no-one, never, always, must, should
When your child uses any of these you need to challenge them to get clarity. The easiest and least offensive way is simply to repeat what they’ve said with an upward inflection at the end to imply a question and emphasise the generalisation. For example, they say “No-one likes me, I don't have any friends". You say "no-one likes you at all?" and "you don't have any friends?" and they may then amend the generalisation to explain that they do have one or two. This way you have a more interesting conversation, when information is more accurate and you achieve rapport.
You will improve rapport by matching verbal language in terms of pace, volume, rhythm, tone and pitch. Correctly done it will seem as if you speak the same language and have so much in common but do it parrot fashion or like an actor without sensitivity or good intention and it could be seen as mocking and insulting.
Non verbal language , how you stand, how you hold your head and your whole body posture needs to match the child you’re talking to so that you are mirror images of each other. This again improves rapport.
Think of people you know who communicate well and copy what they do.