Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Auditory Digital Representational System

The purpose of this article is to provide additional insight into the auditory digital representational system and to spark your thought processes and potentially a discussion.

NLP Representational Systems

We access information through our senses: see (visual), hear (auditory), feel (kinesthetic), taste (gustatory) and smell (olfactory). To process and store this information, we make pictures in our minds of what we believe we have seen, sounds of what we believe we have heard, etc. In NLP, the different ways that we represent or store information in our mind are called representational systems. There are six in total. Five of which correspond to the senses: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory and olfactory; plus auditory digital which is devoid of the senses and focuses on discrete words, facts figures and logic.

We use all of the representational systems and often have a preferred system. For example, when learning something new, some of us may prefer to see it or imagine it performed, others like to hear how to do it, others choose to get a feeling for it, and yet others make sense of it. In general, one system is not better than another and your preferred representational system may change over time. People at the top of their profession typically have the ability to use all of the representational systems and to choose those most appropriate for the situation.

For more information on representational systems, please see the article Modalities and Representational Systems .

Auditory Digital Representational System

The auditory digital system is not related to any of our senses. Instead of saying something “looks good”, “sounds right”, “feels nice”, “tastes good” or “has the smell of success”, a person with a preference for auditory digital may say, “this makes sense”, “is logical” or “the specifications are correct”.

People with an auditory digital preference, will tend to:

  • Have a need to make sense of the world, to figure things out, to understand.
  • Talk to themselves and carry on conversations with you in their mind. Often they will say they remember discussing something with you, when you actually did not have the conversation. They did, however, in their mind!
  • Learn by working things out in their mind.
  • Not to be spontaneous, as they like to think things through.
  • Have logic play a key role in the decision process as do facts and figures.
  • Memorize by steps, procedures, sequences.

Two Questions for You to Consider

Please consider the following two questions. I would appreciate receiving your thoughts.

  • Is the auditory digital representational system a consequence of our modern society?

When man first walked on this planet, he was highly dependent on his senses for food, shelter and to escape danger. To survive for another day, he was intimately connected with nature. He did not have need for facts and figures to keep track of what little he possessed nor logic to prepare a plan or win an argument.

Gradually man accumulated possessions and it became necessary to keep track, manage and develop these possessions through using facts, figures, planning and logic.

Today modern man sends and receives hundreds of e-mails, text and voicemail messages, with the main focus on the content (facts, figures, logic) of the message. Thus he spends less time using his senses to be aware of what is happening around him or to enjoy the beauty of nature or the creations of artisans.

And then there are those among us who have given up modern technology and its trappings or who have established limits on its use and influence, in order to take advantage of local or national parks or to move to the countryside to get back in touch with nature.

  • Is auditory digital a default system for safety?

Although I have not done any significant research to verify it, it is my contention that many people who have a preference for auditory digital actually have an unexpressed preference for one or more of the other representational systems. These unexpressed preferences were put aside, buried or discounted during their childhood years due to ridicule, inappropriate behaviour, being chided for their opinions or desires by people in authority or respect.

I have met people who grew up in families where feelings were dismissed, or their dreams or attempts to create objects of beauty were laughed at and ridiculed as a waste of time and money. To avoid or minimize this criticism and ridicule, they retreated into themselves - keeping their thoughts and dreams inside, searching for something that could not easily be criticized, a place where using facts, figures and logic they could figure it out for themselves. People in authority or respect may find fault with a colour choice, how something feels, sounds or tastes or smells; but it is more difficult to find fault with facts and figures built on a logical and reasonable thought process. And if you simply process your thoughts internally and keep your desires to yourself, what is there to defend other than you are not as expressive as others?

As these people who selected auditory digital, as a default safety option, become adults and more aware of who they are and their true potential, there is a desire to decloak and fully express themselves by reaching out and hugging others or through visual art or music or through their own creativity. For some, this is an unfamiliar activity and they are not sure how others will react or indeed how to even go about doing it. So they wait and wait and try to figure it out. NLP is a great vehicle to assist with this self-expression in a safe and respectful manner.

I look forward to seeing your feedback.

Author: Roger Ellerton is a certified NLP trainer, certified management consultant and the founder and managing partner of Renewal Technologies. The above article is based on his book Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You.


Dave Thompson said...

Roger, you have brought up some interesting ideas. I would say the auditory digital representational system has existed since the beginning of language itself. As soon as people had the ability to speak out loud, I am sure they began having conversations with themselves in their minds.

Now it's the information age and information is transmitted using auditory digital. I think this may have a profound effect on people's tendency to choose AD as their dominant mode of thinking and processing information.

I am not sure if AD makes a good default safety option. The clients I have had who primarily represent experience in AD use it in a way that makes them anxious and depressed. Asking lots of "what if" questions and hearing critical voices. But then again, perhaps that is why they are my clients!

Roger Ellerton said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your comments.

For adults, Ad may not be a good default safety option. However, for children it may provide a perceived sense of safety -- at least in the short-term. The problem is that we drag many beliefs/values, habits, perceived areas of safety, etc. from our childhood into our adult life without assessing if they are still relevant. In doing so, we attempt to live a full and healthy life without taking advantage of all of our resources and all that the world has to offer.


Anonymous said...

Roger, my efforts to gather information for my own personal growth, have drawn me to this blog. To make it short and maybe spark some thoughts; I have been using for most of my life the AD rep system, I just didn't know it. I was having much trouble with inner dialogues and feelings of constant wary in most of my adult life. Well, after taking 1 year off work and engaging on many personal development activities, I became aware that I am bipolar type I. Now, my doctor tells me to begin a symptom relief plan starting with a service called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. According to my limited understanding of NLP, I see possible indications of an overlap between bipolar symptoms and the default choice of using AD rep system in the adulthood.

Anonymous said...

Roger, I am very new to this term. I have been told that this is what I use for myself. When looking into this and trying to figure it out, I do believe that this is caused by events in ones life. I think that it is a way of protecting ones true self after being rejected or hurt in someway.
But like I said this is very new to me so I could be wrong.
I found the information very helpful and informative.
Thank You :)

Sherif said...

Roger, as an AD i'd like to express my point. Due to some bad experiences in my childhood i was a K, went through lots of psychological problems, tried therapy with 4 different doctors and they all agreed on 1 thing. it's all abt me to b better.. So, i tried to figure out my problems, looked for developing methods from Religions to yoga meditations to 7 habits!! and finally NLP where i found all the answers lay in a clear way .. I was always looking for Lows and Rules tht controls our behaviors, communications.. etc and regarding wht i've achieved i do believe tht AD was the only way out of my problems

Anonymous said...

Roger, I'm new to NLP and just beginning to get some of the concepts. I took the assessment today and a while back and scored high on Digital, but this time higher on K.

I'm not sure that I really understand it but do know that I tend to live too much in my head, and getting more into my senses is good for me.

Someone mentioned poetry. Last fall I joined both a poetry writing and a poetry reading group. I see now, but didn't before, how much the senses are engaged in the process of writing, reading to myself and aloud, others reading aloud, responding to a poem on a page and how it looks.

Enjoy your site very much.


Roger Ellerton said...

Thank You.


steverenn said...

Roger (or should that be Dr. Ellerton?), I want to thank you for sharing a clear explanation of the AD Representational System. I've been researching NLP for a while, but only recently started actually studying, so it came as a surprise when I took the preference test in _User's_Manual_for_the_Brain_ and found that I was a "D." This was especially confusing after reading previously in the same chapter that the ratio was 20/60/20% K/V/A. Doing the math, I didn't fit in anywhere! (typical)

Anyway, on to the feedback:
* Regarding the first question, I'd have to say it is perhaps the other way around. From an engineering perspective, the most efficient system is usually the one that exists in nature. A binary (digital) device represents more closely the way we process data and always have. While the computer/brain analogy breaks down quickly there is no doubt that both are logical devices. Of course, this is all IMO at this point because I'm headed off to sleep soon and not up to references. :)
* To the second question, at least in my experience, I've always been AD. I've had to learn to present using the other Representational Systems for self preservation. I got much better results in school when I said to the teacher, "That doesn't look/sound/feel right," than when I said "That doesn't make sense!" Of course, I don't suppose it helps that I always test out as an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey tests.

In any event, I'm glad I came across this post (even if it is going on 4 years old). It's all new to me!


Roger Ellerton said...

Thank you Steve,

I appreciate hearing your perspective.

With regard to 20/60/20% K/V/A. I have never seen these % quoted before. Usually people quote 40/40/20% K/V/A without any reference.

For my book, "Parents' Handbook: NLP and Common Sense Guide for Family Well-Being, I did some additional research and came up with the following: Lynn O’Brien, Specific Diagnostic Studies, Inc., found that about 40 percent of people have a preference for a visual learning style, 15 percent for auditory and 45 percent for kinesthetic (Dee Dickinson, Learning Through the Arts, New Horizons for Learning. Seattle, 2002, www.newhorizons.org/strategies/arts/dickinson_lrnarts.htm. Accessed June, 2009).

Best wishes


Dan said...

Thank you for this article. I'm pretty sure I am AD and for the reasons you listed. I've always thought I started out very creatively but was forced to change by society. I was blamed for a lot of things, some which I did, some which I didn't do. Because of excessive arguing and having to defend myself, especially against irrational people and authority who could articulate better, I had to develop the behaviors you describe. I had to prepare to defend myself against wrong accusations without fully being able to articulate my point of view, whether because I didn't have the words to explain it or because they were illogical people (argue with them in my head 1st). I do ask a lot of what if questions, sometimes resulting in what Dave Thompson talks about, but I think it keeps me more aware of doing some of the stupid things my peers do. I do hear a critical voice. It criticizes other people. Some of the NLP presuppositions are helping me understand the people I criticize.

PaulA88 said...

I agree with your points about the potential for it to be a defense mechanism and think perhaps it is an evolutionary process for the mind to cope with the way of life we percieve we should live.