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The NLP Meta Model

The NLP Meta Model by Rachel Hott, Ph.D. Source: Anchor Point Magazine

Once again you have entered the land of familiar ground or new territories depending upon who is “you.” This article attempts to cover basic NLP matter in a simplified style. Recently I was observing our Assistant Trainer, Kathy Mazetti, teaching the Meta Model to our practitioners. It was her first time presenting to the group and I had the opportunity to hear the Meta Model taught from a fresh perspective. In terms of simplicity Kathy identified some very clear foundations for approaching the Meta Model. Firstly, she identified it as a “Know Nothing Model.” When someone speaks we often respond as though we know what they mean. There are times when we are lucky and respond accurately, however there are also times when we have interpreted what they said and made an error. If you act as though you know nothing then you can approach a statement with a question. When you are speaking with someone and they say, ” I have to justify everything with you.” That statement is identified as the surface structure. When you ask a question, i.e. “Everything? Is there one time you didn’t have to justify with me?” The response you get will be the deep structure. The deep structure is where the person’s representation of the experience is stored. This representation is a more accurate description of what they are trying to say. Whenever you hear a statement you can now identify it as first the surface structure and then after a question has been asked and more information is given you have arrived at the the deeper structure. The usefulness of the meta model is:

To recognize it as a set of linguistic tools.

To allow you to learn about other’s model of the world.

To keep the listener from interpreting.

To enable the speaker to become aware of his/her own processes.

When the phrase Model of the World is used the image of filters is often described to explain how each person operates in the world. Three filters that are part of everyone’s processes are deletion, distortion and generalization.( See Anchor Point June ’89). When someone speaks they are demonstrating their filter through one of the meta model patterns. Before we explore what these nine meta model patterns look, sound and feel like let’s first do an inventory of two jargon words in the model.

The Challenge is what you say to a person when they have a made a statement. You are asking the person a question to obtain their deep structure. When you ask a question remember to pay attention to your form. If you say, “How specifically?” with a loud volume and nasal tonality you may not get the response you are looking for.

Prediction is determing the response you are going to get. You don’t know what the content will be but you do know the form in which the content will be given. For example if someone says, “I have decided,” You can predict that if you say, “Decided about what?”, you will get the missing information.

As you continue to read be prepared to learn nine “Meta Model” patterns. Some of them will feel familiar to you because either you or other’s around you use them. There is nothing inherently bad about using these patterns ( although they have been called violations they do not indicate wrongdoings). Actually there is no way not to use a meta model pattern in your speech. If the patterns are familiar to you notice whether you use them frequently thus becoming more aware of your process. If the patterns are unfamiliar to you begin to pay more attention to others linguistic styles as well as your own.