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A few examples of meta programs in personal and business relationship. See also the article on NLP Parenting Skills.


How to recognise meta programs in a conversation?


Meta programs are perceptual filters that determine how you think, act and feel. Every personality test measures a cluster of meta programs. Step 1 is to learn to about meta programs. Step 2 is to learn how to recognise them in a conversation - this page. Step 3 is to apply them in your personal and business life for greater success and harmony.


Transcript of a conversation with a 50 year old business man.

Notice how throughout the conversation he avoids answering with a 'yes' or 'no' to a direct question.

Q: Did you make money from your workshop? (A direct question.)

A: We did alright. (The answer is not a 'yes' or a 'no'.)


Q: How many participants were there?

A: About 12. (Not a specific number.)


Q: Oh yeah. (With an interested questioning look.)

A: My grandson was there and my mother in-law. (Not a direct answer and alluding to the fact that it may have not been that successful.)

Q: So did you make any money?

A: We didn't just make money from the workshop places, we also sold items. (Did not answer the question and shifted the topic.)


Q: How much were the items?

A: They varied. We had a whole range of products. (Did not answer the question and did not give any details.)


Q: So how much were the items?

A: All different prices. (Does not give specifics. Still thinking globally.)


Q: Yeah? (With an curious encouraging look and tonality.)

A: Some we sell for $100.00 on the Internet but we sold them for $20.00 at the workshop. He then went onto elaborate in a little more detail about the items, some costing thousands of dollars.)

You can see that he is much more global than details. In addition he mismatches and avoids providing the information the questioner is looking for. Learn about meta programs.


Recognising your own meta programs.

It can be interesting to map out your own meta programs. The context of these notes starts in the lobby of Ryocan Chic Hotel in Malaysia in 2012 where the author had a discussion with the concierge about places to visit.

I have a list of places I want to visit that day (advance planning, future oriented, judger, procedures) but I also gather information from others (internal/external reference).

I now have a number of options which I reflect upon (reflection/action).

Time is precious so I need to make a decision. I don't want to miss out on going somewhere and I want the reward of achievement (away-from/towards).

I decide to visit China Town in KL so I walk to the taxi ramp and give directions to taxi driver but I don't mind where he drops me off as I want a new experience (sameness/difference).

I don't want to go to exactly the same place I have been to before so I enter China Town from a new direction and explore the streets, stalls, people (people/systems/things/places/information). I am looking for difference in people, places, things, food. (sameness/difference). If I recognise a place or people then I take a different path looking for a new experience.

While sitting on a street kerb a taxi driver stops and engages me in conversation so I take the opportunity to visit a temple. We bargain over the taxi fare. He over charges me but I don't mind (away-from/towards) as it is important for me to visit the temple and explore. I have no real idea of how far away the temple is from my current location and what to expect when I get there and I like that (perceiver/judger).

At the temple I walk around taking photographs of the people and the buildings and animals. I keep looking for some good Malay food. I have a good idea of what to look for (global/specific) just not where to find it.

It is very hot and I want to leave a bit early and as I can not find my taxi driver I decide to find another taxi (options/procedures perceiver/judger) but my taxi driver finds me. I ask him to drop me in Kuala Lumpur at a train station. It does not matter which station or network as long as it goes in the right direction (options/procedures).


A discussion with a friend.

In this example a friend asks the author (Abby) about catching an airplane.

Michael. "What time are you getting up?"

Abby. "7.30am."


Michael. "What time does the plane leave?"

Abby. "11.05am."


Michael. "That is heaps of time."

Abby. "Not really." (References past events at Sydney airport where there were traffic jams and obstacles in getting to the airport on time. (Away-from.)


Michael. "But the Gold Coast Airport is different."

Abby. "Not really. (Mismatches). Sometimes the taxi is late, sometimes there are road works and if you get three flights all departing at the same time you get 3000 people trying to check in." (Exaggerates)


Michael. "Not 3000!"

Abby. "Okay, 300 people."

Unpack the meta-programs.

In this context Abby is referencing the past, examples of negative events, is moving away-from potential problems, chunking down into details and using exageration.

Michael is encouraging and positive in his communication. He said, "That is heaps of time." I mismatch, disagree and need to justify myself. I don't like being told, it is like a mind read. If he had said, "Is that enough time?" I would have checked past memories, weather conditions, roadworks, the specific airport, procedures, etc and said matter of factly, "That should be plenty of time."

In this case Michael was not telling, he was being supportive yet the author interpreted it as a 'tell'. Some people react strongly to a 'tell'. When we ask someone we invite them to mobilise their inner resources and be at their best - and we avoid reactions. However, we can not expect the world to change to meet our meta programs. The best we can do is to bring awareness to meta programs as we experience them.

On a personal note as I become more attuned to listening for meta programs, questions, statements and commands, I find that I can just allow others to express themselves more freely without reacting and expecting them to match my meta program preferences.

On a closing note most religions have defined obedience - that is 'matching' - as a virtue. The majority of Germans were obedient to Hitler. Mismatchers are dissenters. The medical profession complain about a lack of compliance from their patients. Hmm, interesting.


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