Sensory Representation & VAKOG: Influence on Thought, Learning, and Coaching

Oct 1, 2023

In the realm of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the concept of sensory representation holds a pivotal place. It delves into how we perceive and process information through our senses, and how this impacts our thinking, learning, and, consequently, coaching conversations. Sensory representation, often associated with the VAKOG model, plays a significant role in understanding an individual’s preferred mode of thinking and their unique cognitive processes. In this blog, let’s explore the intricate connection between sensory representation, and VAKOG, and their influence on thinking, learning, and coaching.

Understanding Sensory Representation and VAKOG

In NLP, Sensory representation revolves around the idea that our experiences are shaped by how we represent them in our minds. The VAKOG model, standing for Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, and Gustatory, represents the various sensory channels through which we process information. Each person has a dominant and preferred sensory channel, and this preference impacts how they think, learn, and communicate.


Visual individuals primarily rely on images and pictures in their minds. They often think in terms of mental snapshots and pay keen attention to visual details in their environment.


Auditory individuals process information through sounds and language. They may think in terms of inner dialogues, tunes, or rhythms, and are particularly attuned to spoken words and tonal variations.


Kinesthetic individuals connect with the world through touch and physical sensations. They often think in terms of how things feel, and their experiences are deeply tied to bodily sensations and emotions.

Olfactory and Gustatory

These two sensory channels are less commonly discussed in NLP but are equally important. Olfactory individuals may have a strong connection to smells and scents, while gustatory individuals may focus on tastes and flavors in their sensory representations.

Developing a Preferred Mode of Thinking

Although deeply ingrained, our preferred mode of thinking is not fixed. It can evolve over time and is influenced by various factors, including our upbringing, experiences, and environment. Developing a preferred mode of thinking involves self-awareness and conscious effort. NLP techniques can be used to identify one’s dominant sensory channel and work on expanding and refining it. For instance, if someone wants to become more visually oriented in their thinking, they can practice visualization exercises and consciously pay more attention to visual cues in their surroundings.

Impact on Coaching Conversations

Sensory representation and preferred modes of thinking have a profound impact on coaching conversations. A skilled NLP practitioner or coach recognizes and adapts to the sensory preferences of their clients to establish effective communication. Here’s how it plays out:

Building Rapport

Understanding a client’s dominant sensory channel allows the coach to build rapport more effectively. If a client is visually oriented, using visual language and metaphors can establish a stronger connection.

Tailored Communication

Coaches can customize their communication to match the client’s preferred sensory channel. For example, they might use auditory metaphors for an auditory-oriented client to convey ideas more effectively.

Enhancing Learning

By aligning coaching techniques with the client’s sensory preferences, the learning process becomes more efficient. Clients can absorb and integrate information more readily when it’s presented in their preferred sensory mode.

Resolving Blocks

Sensory representation also plays a role in identifying and resolving mental blocks. Coaches can help clients reframe negative sensory representations associated with past experiences, allowing them to overcome limiting beliefs and behaviors.

In the world of NLP, sensory representation and the VAKOG model provide valuable insights into how individuals perceive and process information. Understanding one’s preferred mode of thinking and learning is a powerful tool for personal growth and development. In coaching conversations, this knowledge can be leveraged to establish rapport, tailor communication, enhance learning, and facilitate positive change. By recognizing the intricate connection between sensory representation and cognition, both coaches and individuals can unlock new possibilities for transformation and success

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Prakash Rao, MCC
Prakash Rao, MCC


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