Classifications intrigue me. One set of classifications in homiletics (writing/giving sermons) involved the senses – auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. Taste and smell were covered with the Eucharist. We were encouraged to include words in our sermons that helped people relate through the three senses. And, if you were preaching about the Passover supper or Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, you could hit the other two senses.
I’ve used that knowledge to reach out to individuals in all kinds of groups. I listen to them, and then I use their kind of words to respond. If they say “I feel” then I can respond with kinesthetic words and possibly reach them better than visual words, like “I see”. For instance, I could say, “What you said touched me.”
As all classifications fail to include everyone, some people don’t emphasize any of the five senses. They respond better to statements like, “I think you may be right/wrong.” Or “Your reasoning is good.” These people require a great deal more factual knowledge to convince of a position or need than others who respond to the senses.
I’m mostly a kinesthetic person. I feel, I touch, I sense. While I can consciously phrase my conversation in other terms, when I’m talking about myself, the touchy-feely stuff works best. When I’m really hurting, I want someone else to feel how I feel not to see how I feel. But, any words are better than absence. Touch is better than words.
The words that I use to express myself reflect my thought processes. If I say, “I think” then I have examined data and used reason to reach that statement. If I say, “I envision”, then I have built castles in the air, creations of art and wonder. If I say, “I hear,” I’m probably repeating gossip because my strong sense is not auditory. If I say, “I feel”, then my words are a mixture of feelings, intuition, thought, and visualization – all compacted into a gut response that may not necessarily have its basis in reason. That’s when people should listen to me because that’s my strongest way of putting things together.
Each person has strengths in different areas of the senses. Being aware of how you speak can give you clues to how to you think. Being aware of how someone else speaks can help you respond in ways that they understand best.