NLP Techniques Cont.

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Following on from the last posting I thought it would be interesting to look at the Meta model. The meta model was the first pattern detected by Bandler and Grinder from the work of therapist Fritz Perls.
Pearls was using questions to challenge those parts of the clients experience that were omitted from the verbal recollection. To challenge parts of the verbal recollection that the client used to conclude implied meaning and to challenge parts of the verbal recollection that the client were using to make generalisations i.e. a previous experience that has been generalised to all future experiences. In doing so Perls was able to assist the client to have greater choices.
Bandler & Grinder realised that this style of questioning had benefits not only within therapy and named this pattern the  meta model, a language pattern of questioning that recovers more detail i.e. seeks to recover what is missing, generalised or distorted in the clients spoken word.
Our language as we have looked at before is a verbal representation of our experience, in order for it to be usable we generalise, an example would be. ‘I sat on a chair’ reading this we all know what has happened, what we don’t know is how the person sat an what type of chair they sat on’. We have our own representation of both and they are likely to be different for each of us. Now I can hear you say well it’s un important and in some circumstances it may be less important than in others.
Also we delete parts of experience when we speak, for example ‘It will be difficult to make a decision.’ Here what decision is to be made has been deleted from the verbal language, and in fact so has the reasons for it being difficult. Often what happens unconsciously for the listener is that the bits that are missing are filled in from the listeners perspective to complete their understanding, which of course may be from a completely different personal experience. What one person finds difficult another finds easy and maybe vice-versa. Here is an example A says to B ‘It will be difficult to make a decision.’ B perceives there only to be 2 options to reach a decision and one in their mind is a no brainer B may say to A ‘No it’s not’ what you need to do is…….’ To B the problem is resolved, but that is in their mind, their representation of the context and applying their program!
The third aspect of our verbal communication is distortion where we may distort the experience to mean something else. An example would be ‘you give me all the toughest of jobs’ the person has distorted possibly being asked to complete a more complicated or complex task and is distorting this to, they are tough.
There are many Meta model violations in our language that will fall into these three areas of Distortion, Deletion and Generalisation. Examples of ways they can be challenged can be found at
So what of the practical application of Meta model questions?
Your partner may become a little confused if you start to challenge Meta model violations i.e. ‘ I have had a awful day’ if you respond with ‘ In what way exactly have you had an awful day?’ this might result in a quick loss of rapport. That said Meta model questioning is useful to help an individual recover information or to consider they way they were representing an experience to themselves.
An employee who is having difficulty in some aspect of their job may be verbalising it with some or all three elements of deletion, distortion & generalisation. By being aware and listening out for them you can choose the appropriate challenge. They may completely omit specifics of the problem, we may describe this as talking around the issue, by questioning to recover, the lost information may help the person to re present the context and obtain a different perspective.
It may be that a person has had an experience in the past and is generalising it to all potential future experiences of the same nature. An example of this may be a person you have asked to call old and existing customers to generate new business. The person is reluctant and may even appear to be delaying the phone activity. Simply asking them to get on with it may be insufficient to produce the activity, or they may make a couple of calls and find a reason or distraction that prevented them from completing all the calls. Further dialogue and questions may uncover that they once had a particularly unpleasant experience in a previous job, where when calling an old customer to generate potential new business, the old customer protested and said nobody wants to be hounded for business. This may manifest it’s self as a statement ‘everybody thinks you are hounding them for business’.
In this case, it could be that the person is generalising, that all the old customers they have been instructed to call would be feeling hounded if they called them. By challenging this generalisation i.e. ‘have you ever called an old customer who welcomed the opportunity to see what you now had to offer’ the person is likely to say yes they have and therefore produces the evidence that not everyone thinks you are hounding them for business.
As for our distortion example ‘you give me the toughest of jobs’ it is often beneficial to challenge these especially if the distortion described in the negative where it is likely to effect moral or motivation. Her we would look for a reframe challenge the distortion ‘toughest’ and then to reframe as a more complex or complicated piece of work for an experienced trusted member of staff.
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Techniques so far
Matching language
Meta model
Looking forward to your comments and questions