Communication Styles: Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic

“Why don’t people just listen better?”

“I had it written down and she never looked at it.”

“What difference does it make to know how it works – it just works!”

“I told him twice and he still didn’t understand.”

“I didn’t have time to write it all down for him.”

“If people understood the process better, they would know why it’s a problem.”

An essential part of communication is the process of sending and receiving information accurately. Awareness of communication style allows us to respond more effectively to people because we are more attentive to their preferred mode of communication.

When we send information to people in a style they don’t prefer or grasp as readily, we may not complete the communication process at all.

If you ever made or heard any of the statements listed above you may have been experiencing the frustration that comes with mismatched communication styles.

AUDITORY people receive information best when they hear it with their own ears and can repeat and hear it again for clarity.

VISUAL people receive information best when they can see it and review it again by looking at it.

KINESTHETIC people receive information best when they can feel it, be a part of it and/or experience it and understand how it works.

Listen and watch for the following to determine which preference people are communicating from.




Looks great









Show me










Tell me

Hear from you






Hands on

Action verbs

How are you

How do you feel about

How does it work

Hints and Tips for dealing with people with differing styles of communications.

Communicating with Auditory People:

  • Speak clearly and in plain language.
  • Invite questions and discussion.
  • Be willing to repeat information.
  • Provide verbal reminders.
  • Read instructions and directions aloud.
  • Be patient when asked to repeat or go over information.
  • Maintain a calm, even tone when repeating or reviewing information
  • Encourage people to paraphrase or verbalize their understanding of the discussion.
  • Use the skill of paraphrasing to ensure common understanding.
  • Emphasize key points by changing your tone and/or voice level.
  • Try to discuss issues without other auditory distractions.
  • Ask people if they can hear what is being said.

Communicating with Visual People:

  • Invite visual people to write down directions or instructions.
  • Offer to fax, E-mail or mail written confirmation of the discussion
  • Invite reading back of messages and/or directions.
  • Discuss ways for the other person to view or see the information.
  • In person-to-person discussion watch for the “squint” expression, which indicates the visual person doesn’t “see” the message.
  • Be willing to draw diagrams or sketches to support your information.
  • Use underlining, bold print or graphics to draw the attention of the visual person.
  • Colour appeals to the visual communicator.
  • Encourage the individual to view their written material as you go over it verbally.
  • Ask them to describe their view or perception to you.
  • Ask them if they can see what you are saying.
  • In person, maintain eye contact with the other person.

Communicating with Kinesthetic People:

  • Encourage participation throughout the process or discussion.
  • If it is a “hands on” process, encourage them to work on it as the conversation proceeds.
  • Be prepared for the kinesthetic person to jump ahead or work faster than the steps or instruction outline.
  • Be willing to answer lots of questions about why and how things work.
  • Listen for questions around barriers or stoppages that indicate inability to understand the process.
  • Accept challenges from them such as “why”, “why not”, “if I”, “it should.”
  • Invite questions about the “big picture.”
  • Describe information based on application and/or practical use rather than theory.
  • Allow them to describe their own approaches and/or methods.
  • Accept ideas for improved or enhanced application.
  • Allow people to process information at their own pace
  • Give examples, stories, situations and experiences – tie it to their reality.

When you are communicating to a group, or don’t have the time to figure out communication styles, use elements of sight, sound and experience to make sure your message is getting through.

TribeHR’s social HRIS provides a valuable communications channel for your workplace. Try it free today.


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