The first modality that I want to discuss is the visual. I choose to discuss this first because visuals make up the largest portion of the population. Approximately 50-60% of the population has the visual communication/sensory preference. This means that they process information most efficiently and effectively based on what they take in through their eyes. Keep in mind, this does not mean that they don’t use their other senses. It simply means that the best way they process information is through what they see. Some visuals use the other modalities well; and some not as much.
Also, note that there is a gap in the percentages. Some professionals that have conducted surveys or done studies on this subject have published their findings at 60%. However, in my personal research, I have always come up with figures closer to 50%; placing the other 10% in the kinesthetic category. I will explain what I think are the contributing factors when I discuss the kinesthetic portion of the population.
It is also interesting to note that, in general, research shows that there are a higher percentage of males that have this as their sensory preference.
I will now go through, in some detail, the personality traits you will most often find dominant in those who have this as their sensory preference. Keep in mind the bell curve that I discussed earlier.
Childhood as a Visual
Determining what someone’s preference is will begin by looking at how they acted as a child. Once they are old enough to start making decisions for themselves, they may begin to make choices based on facets of their personality. Listed below are traits that you might notice, or remember about yourself as a child, or that you can ask a client you are coaching:
- They might be choosy about the appearance of their clothing, perhaps changing multiple times in a day because the clothes get dirty. I have a close friend whose daughter is clearly a visual and it was obvious when she was just 3 years old. When I would spend time at their home in the summer, I noticed that she would often come in from playing and change her clothes. It was always because she said that her clothes were dirty, and she didn’t like that. She is now a teenager and continues to confirm my original assessment.
- Visual children don’t like their food to touch. The appearance of the gravy running into the salad dressing might disturb them. They desire having the items on their plate look good. They may not want to eat foods that don’t look good; such as stews, where everything is mixed together.
- They may prefer toys that look nice and can be picky about the way they are visually set up in their room.
- Animals that are pretty or pleasant to watch may be the ones that the visual child prefers over the scruffy looking dog.
- They might be the children that are afraid of the dark. While there could be many reasons that contribute to fear of the dark, if all of the other traits are present in the child, it is an additional clue pointing to a visual sensory preference.
- Visual children are also very sensitive about having eye contact with those to whom they are talking. They may be particularly sensitive to facial expressions.
Visuals and Their Brain
- The visual person will often say that they create pictures in their mind. Note: the anterior right BQD will also do this with ease, so be aware of the overlap.
- In learning, the visual prefers pictures, charts, and graphs.
- They may take notes, even when they have a complete handout in front of them.
- They may tend to learn best when alone.
- When assembling a project (such as a bike or a bookshelf) the visual will most likely pull out the instructions; first going over the pictures, and often only reading the words if needed.
- They may look for something to watch when bored.
- Their preferred reading material will be magazines with pictures, or short stories and articles if there are no pictures.
- Their preference may even be apparent in their speech. They may use terms like:
- From your point of view
- As I see it.
- That was an eye opener.
- Will you please show me.
- From my perspective.
- I get an image of you.
- Can you picture?
- Can I show you?
- I can visualize that.
- That really caught my eye.
- Their brains will promptly pick-up on visual cues.
- They quickly notice the things that are out of place: the hair out of place, the lint on your clothes, the “what is different in this picture” games.
- They tend to draw pictures in the air.
- They may react to visual input faster than the other two preference.
- According to Arlene R. Taylor, PhD, and W. Eugene Brewer, PhD: visual individuals will also tend to speak rapidly, breath slowly or hold their breath while speaking, and have a higher pitched voice.
Visuals and Their Appearance or the Appearance of Things Around Them
- Visuals will often be very well put together. This doesn’t mean that they always have a specific look; i.e. always professional, or casual, or delicate, etc. It means that the colors always coordinate, the styles always match, and even the fabrics may match. I once had a friend who said that my outfit didn’t look right. It wasn’t because it necessarily looked bad, but because I was wearing a winter sweater with a light cotton dress. The sweater was a winter fabric and the dress was a summer fabric. Visually they didn’t match (it didn’t matter to me-I’m an auditory).
- Their appearance is most often well-coordinated. They may change purses to match the outfit, their shoes always match their clothing, and so forth.
- They will chose their clothes based on appearance verses comfort or sound.
- Their furniture choices are often made based on the way they look instead of how comfortable it is. The mom of a friend I had as a teenager was definitely a visual. Whenever I went to her house it always looked perfect. Their living room was not a room to live in, but one to look at: white couches, light flooring, and everything in its place.
- Their animal choices may also reflect their visual preference. They might have that adorable dog that goes to the groomer regularly so that it always looks perfect. They may have the large fish tank with brightly colored fish as a functional part of their environment. Beautiful birds may also be a preferred pet: ones that are for looks at but not to be cuddled.
- They prefer to have color in their environment and want those colors to match.
- They feel that appearance-the way things look-is very important.
- Like the visual child, they are sensitive to the facial expressions of others and are good at reading the message it contains. There are, of course, other brain overlays that may make this less strong in some.
- Eye contact is extremely important for connecting to and for reassurance of the visual communicator.
Good careers for Visuals
In coaching people, or for yourself, in making career choices, all of the Brain Personality Connection facets should be considered. Below is a list of good choices for visuals; remember, you must factor in the whole brain.
- Airline pilots
- Window display creators
- Any job that require good visual acuity.
Now that you have a good idea, or should I say vision, of what is present in the personality of the visual sensory preference/communication style, let’s look at some application to improve your communication with and coaching of this personality type.
Visuals and Relationships
What visuals see is much more important than what they feel or hear. I often use the scenario of a husband and wife. Let’s say that you have a powerfully visual wife who has been hard at work all day. Upon coming home, she works to straighten up the house and prepare the evening meal. Now, the husband, who is not a visual, arrives home. He kicks off his shoes, throws his jacket over the back of the couch, walks through the dining room, and drops a pile of mail on the table. He then goes into the kitchen, gives his wife a big hug, and states how wonderful it is to be home and that dinner smells great. What has happened? How will the wife feel? What will be her response?
Well, remember her brain is going to register what it has just seen: the new mess that has been created by her husband. Her brain is not catching the fact that he hugged her (kinesthetic), or that he said nice things to her (auditory); it is only noticing the visual input. At this point, she could begin to administer the silent treatment or respond with a sharp tongue. Her husband, now completely confused himself, gets frustrated and a heated discussion could ensue; perhaps no communication at all.
While this may seem to be an exaggeration, in reality, things not so different from this have happened. Miscommunication between the two brains is at the heart of it all. Imagine what a powerful effect this would have on all marriages if just this one BPC facet was taught as a prerequisite to marriage? In my own life experience, understanding this has made probably the greatest impact on my understanding and communicating with my husband. I will relate a few personal stories when I get to the kinesthetic portion of this chapter. For now, I’ll say it truly makes an amazing difference when this information is applied in a relationship.
Understand that the application in a work environment is equally important. If there is an individual that you are interacting with, or a client you are coaching, that is visual, be sure that you draw them the picture; sometimes this means literally.
Addressing the Visual Needs of Clients or in Presentations
First of all, you will want to pay attention to your speech. Even though speech is an auditory thing, the words that you use can have an impact on how their brains pay attention. Look back over the phases mentioned earlier and see if you can’t include more visual terms in your language. If you are doing a first consultation, listen carefully to the terms they use and mirror those.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, make sure that you always draw a picture for them through your speech, or literally on a piece of paper: draw a brain, or coaching plan, or make sure that written proposals have plenty of pictures in them. It would also be beneficial for you to create a visually appealing environment when meeting with clients, or make sure that the public place you use has a visual appeal.
Keep in mind that at least 50% of the population is more than likely visual. So, it is always a safe bet to be well prepared with visual input when meeting with any potential client.
All of the above is also true if you are doing a presentation for a group of people. You will notice that all of the power point presentations and handouts that I provide (and that you have access to as a certified coach) are filled with pictures and visual appeal. If you decide to create your own, and I encourage you to do so if you are not completely comfortable with mine, then please follow suit and include plenty of pictures and visual effects.
This concludes the section on the visual sensory preference/communication style. We will next discuss the auditory portion of the population.
 Your Brain Has a Bent (Not a Dent!) Arlene R. Taylor, PhD and W. Eugene Brewer, PhD
 Brain Quadrant Dominance
 Brain Personality Connection