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Why knowledge, skills and flexibility with NLP Meta Programs may be essential for you to achieve higher levels of success in life, relationships, career and business. Take the meta program personality test.
...and how to use them to build relationships, make more money, understand your children and fall deeper in love.
(Abby Eagle) Meta Programs are perceptual filters that generally operate out of conscious awareness. They filter perception and determine your preferences in how you think, feel and act.
A Meta Program is actually a solidified meta state. That is, if you repeat the same way of thinking and the same type of behaviour over and over again (in the same context) then eventually it will become habituated and a part of who you are. For example, if a child is constantly reminded by their parents of a past negative event the child may learn to think back to past negative events and replay them in their mind. This negative thinking may then colour how they behave in the present and how they think of the future. As an adult their attention could be more on past negative events.
On the other hand if the parents had encouraged the child to learn from the past and then shift their attention onto the future and think about what they would like to experience, then the child might not only have become more future oriented but also become more optimistic.
Even though meta programs might look like 'either or' they actually refer to a continuum. For example, we all have the ability and the choice to think of what could go wrong or what could go right. But it is only when someone becomes habituated to just thinking of the negative or just thinking of the positive that it becomes a liability.
The answer is to develop the flexibility to shift from one end of the continuum to the other and experience the shades of gray in between. In some contexts it may be useful or even essential to be strongly focussed on one end of the continuum. For example, to ensure that a nuclear power station is as safe as possible the engineers need to check for every possible contingency. (Though the reverse seems to have occurred in that the nuclear power industry and the regulatory bodies seem to have forgotten about nuclear safety in the last few decades as they constantly reassure the public and themselves that the reactors are totally safe.)
Values work in a similar fashion to meta programs in that they create a frame, a focus, a perceptual filter. Values determine every decision that you make but how you go about making the decision will be based upon your meta programs.
Read through the following list of meta programs a number of times and...
What are your internal processes? Do you rely upon your sixth sense and your gut feelings, or do you give more credibility to what you can sense in your immediate environment? That is, see, hear, feel, smell and taste.
Intuitors are great with ideas, concepts and abstractions. They enjoy the creative process of dreaming up all the wonderful things that they might be able to bring into reality sometime in the future but they can get out of touch with the 'reality' of the current situation, and what is actually involved in bringing the project to fruition.
Sensors are more grounded in the experience of what is happening now and hence are better with timing. Those people who buy and sell products, shop keepers and share traders for example, need the ability to recognise patterns and respond to those patterns quickly in real world time. Martial artists, the paramedic and the Hollywood action hero such as Jason Bourne are good examples of sensors who demonstrate heightened sensory acuity and the ability to respond rapidly to an emergency.
Are you an Intuitor or a Sensor?
Introverts tend to be quiet and prefer working with systems and things rather than people. You are more likely to find Introverts in the back end of an organisation and when they do work with people it will be where they are able to develop a deeper relationship, such as a therapist. Introverts may work in an incoming call centre but most would get stressed working as a telemarketer.
Introverts tend to think about things before they speak, reflect more before they act, may consider themselves shy, and will generally spend time by themselves or one significant other when they need to recharge their batteries.
Extroverts on the other hand tend to be louder and generally prefer working with people rather than systems or things. You are more likely to find Extroverts working in the front end of an organisation where they can have contact with more people. An extrovert can handle a job like a check-out operator much easier than an Introvert who may stress from the repetitive superficial contact.
Extroverts tend to think aloud, like to be around people and may find themselves the centre of attention. When they get low on energy they will want to be around more people to recharge their batteries.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?
What is the environment in which you would flourish? Do you prefer working with people, systems or things? The Wealth Dynamics Profile puts 'systems and things' in the category of Introversion and 'people' in the category of Extroversion.
In general an Introvert will prefer working with systems and things, and an Extrovert will prefer working with people. Therapists who work one-on-one with a client will most likely be typed as an Introvert. In general Extroverts derive more energy and subsequently greater job satisfaction from working with many people rather than an individual.
Introverts will manage a team differently to an Extrovert. As you think about this you have to keep in mind how the other meta programs combine to form personality type and behaviour. An introverted team leader will probably have their attention more on the structure of the team and how it works as a system to get a result. If a team member does not come up to standard in supporting the team to achieve the desired result then they may be replaced.
Whereas an extroverted team leader may have their attention more on the person. If the team is not performing to the required standard then the members may be supported to develop the necessary skills to achieve the outcome, or the outcome may be changed.
Do you prefer working with People, Systems or Things?
Once again, what is the environment in which you would flourish? If you were to go on holiday would your primary interest be in the people that were there, the places that you go to, the things that are there, the activities that you can engage in or the information that you can learn?
Let's say we were discussing a topic on health, medicine, politics or religion. Would your primary interest be in the person who is delivering the information or the information itself? Those who have “the person” as the higher frame will 'attack' the person while those who have “information” as higher frame will 'attack' the information. One judges the person, the other judges the information. One judges the person, the other judges the behaviour. We see this meta program played out in politics everyday.
Is your primary interest more in People, Places, Things, Activities or Information?
What is your style of working?
The Independent person likes working by them self and making sure that they remain in control of their business.
The Team Player likes to be part of a team.
The Manager likes to manage a team.
The Bureaucrat likes to keep distance from the people they deal with and enforce their point of view on others.
The Follower just wants to be told what to do.
Are you Independent / Team Player / Manager / Bureaucrat / Follower?
An optimist will say, "The glass is half full." Whereas the pessimist will say, "The glass is half empty." A pessimist may focus on the worst case scenario, on scarcity and what could go wrong. An optimist may focus on the best case scenario, on abundance and what could go right.
Depending upon the context do you sort for the negative or the positive? On what you want or what you don't want. Do you reflect on negative memories or good memories? Is the focus on what went right or what went wrong?
In terms of the future do you think about what could go wrong or what could go right? In terms of a desired outcome do you use words that describe what you don't want or what you do want?
This brings us to the 'Philosophical' Meta Program of Why/How. 'Why' people will think about the origins of the present state, whereas 'How' people will think about solutions. 'Why' people will want to understand why something happened, why the world is this way, whereas 'How' people will just want to get results.
Is your focus on the problem? Do you keep asking yourself the question, "Why?" in respect of the problem? For example, "Why am I like this?
Or is the focus on the desired outcome? Do you ask yourself questions like, "What do I want? How am I going to get it? When do I want it? Who can I get to help me" Who do I need to be? Why do I want my desired outcome?"
Are you a Pessimist or an Optimist?
Do you have a preference for referencing the past, the future, or the present moment? In general Perceivers are more present oriented. Sensors and Judgers are more past to present oriented. Intuitors are more focused on the future.
Do you know what your Timeline orientation is? In-Time is where past is behind the body and the future is in front. Through-Time is where the timeline is in front of the body with the past to one side and the future to the other. Between-Time is like Through-Time except that the timeline goes through the body. Some people have curves in their timeline, some have a fan shape, in some the future is on an upwards angle, some have a circle with past and future meeting behind the body. I have noted that some Japanese and Europeans have a vertical timeline with the past going down and the future going straight up. There are a number of basic orientations with numerous variations. Timeline orientation plays a part in personality type.
Are you an Past / Present / Future
Are you In-time / Through-Time / Between-Time / Other?
The global / details meta program relates to intuition and sensing. Intuitors tend to think in global, general and abstract terms whereas sensors tend to think more in terms of specific details.
The forest or the trees? Are you a big picture person or do you prefer handling the details? You might be a big picture person but how big? You might like handling details but how small?
Are you Global or Details?
This is about controlling and releasing. Do others see you as structured or flexible? Are you comfortable with just gathering information or do you need to draw conclusions and form an opinion? Perceivers tend to be more open ended whereas Judgers need closure.
If something is not okay in the world a Perceiver will try to change themselves to fit in whereas a Judger will try and change others to think and behave like themselves.
Perceivers are generally happy to go along with what others want to do. A Judger feels uncomfortable unless they know what is going to happen. Perceivers will make a dinner date for the weekend and leave it at that. Whereas Judgers will want to know which day, the exact time, the restaurant and what is on the menu so that they can think about it before hand.
Options/Procedures and Perceiving/Judging meta programs are closely related.
Are you a Perceiver or a Judger?
Would you rather explore options or would you rather get down to the steps and stages and follow procedures? Do you feel comfortable with having your options open or do you need closure? Do you need to know how something is going to be done or are you comfortable with working things out as you go? In a conversation do you stay on track or do you find that your mind takes you in other directions and onto different topics of conversation? Options is a function of creativity whereas procedures is a function of doing and achieving.
Are you Options or Procedures?
This meta program relates to the verbs, 'to be', 'to do' and 'to have'. You can hear it in a person's language. So are you the type of person who just likes to hang out in your heart and just be? Or would you rather be doing something? Or is your focus on getting and having?
Are you more of a human doing, a human being or someone who is 'gonna get'?
Are you Being / Doing / Having?
Do you make decisions based upon how you feel or how you think about something? Is your preference to reference your feelings or your mind?
Those people whose preference is to reference their mind may be seen as logical, academic and sometimes even cold and heartless. Those people who reference their feelings may be experienced as being too emotional, and as wearing their heart on their sleeve.
The 'feeling' person is inside the cinema in their mind and therefor associated into the kinesthetics. The 'thinking' person has stepped back from the cinema in their mind and has therefor dissociated from the feeling.
One is referencing the feelings in their body while the other is referencing the thoughts in their mind.
Are you Thinking / Feeling?
Is the attention on self or other? Those with a Self meta program will need to take care of their own needs and wants first, while those with an Other meta program will put other's needs and wants before their own.
Those people with a strong value on helping others may find that by putting themselves second that their own business, personal life and health may suffer. To achieve success at the highest level we need to strike a balance between taking care of others and taking care of ourself.
Most people would be familiar with the safety message given by the airline crew just after take off? "If the cabin should lose pressure an oxygen mask may drop from the ceiling." If you are travelling with a child what do they tell you to do? They tell you to put it on yourself first but what would be your inclination? Would you put it on yourself first or on the child? How you answer that question will determine if you are Self or Other in that context.
Some people need to learn that to be a good parent that they need to take care of their own needs and wants first, to keep their body in good health such that they can then best take care of their family. Some people over respond to the child's needs and wants; they don't take of themselves, and the result is a dysfunctional family. How well do you manage yourself or others? Do you know what you need to do? Do you know what someone else needs to do?
At least one airline has used knowledge of meta programs to recruit air crew. All the job applicants are invited to a group interview. In turn each applicant is invited to the front of the room to introduce themselves. The applicants think they are being assessed on their presentation skills but in fact the interviewers are watching the audience. Those people with a Self meta program may sit back in their chair while those with an Other meta program may lean forwards and show signs of engaging with the presenter.
Those applicants who consistently lean forwards to each of the presenters has a stronger chance of being hired. Next time you fly on a plane just watch how consistently the air crew serve each of the passengers.
Those people with a Self meta program will constantly shift a topic of conversation back onto themselves or onto a topic that interests them. "Well that is enough of talking about me, now what do you think of me?"
But this attention on self may have a negative side effect and result in self consciousness. Those people who feel anxious about speaking in public are more likely to have a Self meta program, well at least in the context of public speaking. The focus is on how they look, how they sound, how they feel and what others think of them. To be a great presenter, a great performer in any context, whether that be in delivering a speech to share holders in the board room, performing on stage, or making love, the attention needs to be on the other person, and on how they respond to your delivery.
So how does the Self/Other meta program relate to Introversion/Extroversion and to the Wealth Dynamics Profile? At Roger Hamilton's Wealth Dynamics Seminars he will sometimes get people to group together according to their WD Personality Type. So often it is the Introverts who demonstrate nervousness about standing up to address the group whereas the Extroverts and most especially the Wealth Dynamics Star personality will seize any opportunity to engage the entire group.
So the WD Star may look like they have the attention on self. They might say, "Look at me.", but in their mind the focus is on the audience and how the audience is responding to them. But what about the celebrity, the singer performer who seems to be constantly seeking attention? Those who say, "Hey, look at how great I am!" This is probably more about ego, about the need to be liked than about Self/Other.
Are you Self or Other?
The relationship meta program measures the relationship between things. Matching for sameness and how things relate, mismatching for difference and how things don't relate, and wanting either stability or change.
Matchers agree while Mismatchers disagree. A Matcher will agree with that statement while a Mismatcher will disagree. Matchers are 'yes' people. Match another person's body posture, voice tonality, volume and tempo, words, dress and behaviour and you build rapport. Do something different and you lose rapport.
A Matcher will remain with the topic of conversation while a Mismatcher will bounce onto another topic each time you raise a new point. The Mismatcher may jump to a different level of abstraction or shift to a different logical type and into totally different content. Have you ever experienced a conversation like that?
In a learning environment a Mismatcher may find it difficult to follow a procedure. Their natural inclination may be to do things differently. In some cases they may have a polarity response and find themselves doing the exact opposite. But in a learning situation one has to learn to follow a given procedure, especially if you want to pass the exam. Once the procedure is mastered then sorting for differences becomes powerful tool for creativity and exploration.
Part of the developmental process of forming an intellect and a value system during the teenage years seems to involve the process of mismatching parents. Some questions to consider: What is the intention behind the mismatching? What drives the mismatching? What values and meta programs come into play during the process of matching or mismatching?
As stated before, Matchers sort for sameness while Mismatchers sort for difference. Do you like a routine or do you need to do something different? Do you like eating the same food at the same restaurant, over and over again or would you rather something different? Are there times when you eat at a food franchise and other times when you want a change? Would you travel to a foreign country and eat at a familiar food franchise or would you explore the local cuisine?
Are you happy hanging around with the same group of friends or are you constantly on the lookout to meet new people? How long is it before you lose interest in something and you search for something new?
Do you think of all political parties as being the same or do you sort for how they differ? How long is it before you need to change your job, your employer, your occupation, your car, your home, your partner? Do you follow fashion to be part of a group or to be different? Have you stayed in one job for a long time or did you keep changing your occupation, your employer, and where you worked?
Those people with a Sameness meta program, (Matching = Sameness and Mismatching = Difference) will look for what they themselves and others do right. They will support and encourage others towards achieving a goal. If they are Sameness and Details then they will recognise incremental steps in improvement. Mismatchers will point out what you have not done right and what you have yet to achieve. In a work environment, a learning environment or a team the Matcher will support others towards achieving their goals. On the other hand the Mismatcher may express the attitude that nothing the other person does is good enough.
Those with a Sameness meta program will easily build rapport with another person as they sort for similarities in attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours. While those with a Difference sort may find it difficult to build rapport as they think about and express what is different between them.
Are you a Matcher / Mismatcher? Do you sort for Sameness or Difference?
What motivates you to action? The stick or the carrot? Are you motivated to action at the thought of what could happen if you don’t take action or by the thought of what you could achieve?
Do you only take action when things begin to get bad. As things get worse do you become more motivated to action? Smokers, drug users, those people who drink too much alcohol or eat too much junk food may be motivated to change their lifestyle only when things get really bad. Others take a more proactive approach and even though they may be using an away-from strategy they take care of their health before they get sick. So are you reactive or proactive? There is a balance between towards and away-from that creates a push-pull energy that creates a propulsion system to action.
The film Castaway demonstrated very clearly how the pain of the current lifestyle for Hank the FedEx agent plus the desire to move towards something of high importance gave enough energy and motivation for him to take the risk to do whatever was necessary in order for him to reach his goal.
Are you Towards or Away-From?
How much energy do you put into pursuing your goals? Are you slow or quick to action? Do you prefer to reflect upon all facets of a project before taking action or do you find yourself jumping straight in and then thinking about it later? Do you need a well-formed plan or do you work it out as you go?
Some people spend so much time thinking about things that they never take action, some don't think or act, whereas others may be too quick to act and need to slow down. But there is no right or wrong way. In some contexts it may be prudent to gather as much information as you can before taking action, as Warren Buffet does in buying shares to hold. Whereas the Day Trader may have to make quick decisions based upon sensory based indicators that may change in seconds.
In martial arts there is no time for reflection, the fighter must put aside all thought and take action based upon what occurs in the moment.
Reflection/Action and Towards/Away-From meta programs are related to how you make a decision. We are motivated by moving away-from something and moving towards something. We reflect upon the consequences of not taking action, of what you might lose if you take action, and the consequences or rewards of taking action. We way up the pro's and con's and at some point make a decision.
Are you Reflective / Inactive/ Active?
The frame of reference used in making a decision. Are you the authority or is someone else the authority? Can you make a decision based upon what you know or do you need to get someone else's opinion? Can you make the decision by yourself or do you need someone to tell you what to do?
At times it will be appropriate to make a decision based upon what you know and who you are but at other times it could be essential to get an opinion from someone else. In most cases an internal reference with an external check is the best option.
Those people with an external reference may give away their power to a multi-level marketer, a guru, a religious leader or a scripture. The person who is external and self referenced may believe in the religious scripture with the focus on self.
The person who is external and other may believe in the religious scripture with the focus on converting or helping others.
Do you have an Internal or External Reference?
Do you take action because you need to or are you motivated by what you could achieve? The Necessity/Possibility meta program is related to Away-From/Towards. Are you looking to stay out trouble or seduced by the opportunities that life presents to you?
Modal operators are those words in grammar that indicate necessity or possibility.
For example, some words that indicate necessity are: need to, have to, got to, must, should. ought to, it's time.
And some words that indicate possibility are: can, can do, will do, want to, may do, try to, it is possible, choose to, able to.
What is your mode of operation?
Is the reason that you take action from Necessity or Possibility?
The classification meta program determines whether a person uses an 'or' or an 'and' way of thinking. Does the style of thinking demonstrate a continuum or two discrete dimensions? Does the person think in terms of 'black and white' or in shades of gray that join both ends of the continuum? Do they go to extremes of behaviour or do they demonstrate moderation?
For example, a cigarette smoker may cut down from thirty cigarettes a day to one yet claim that the hypnotherapy did not work because to them, smoking one cigarette a day means that they are still a smoker. So they go back to smoking thirty cigarettes a day. So they either smoke to an extreme or don't smoke at all.
Another example. A woman embarks on an intense health and fitness regime for a period of time in which she reaches her health and fitness goals. Then one day she eats too much chocolate, puts on weight and stops her exercise routine. The client I have in mind actually marked out one behaviour with her left hand and the other behaviour with her right hand. She said, "Either I go to the gym and get fit, strong and healthy or I eat chocolate and ice cream and get really fat, why?" Part of the answer was to help her to bring awareness to both aspects of her personality at the same time and build in a connection between both ends of the continuum such that she could eat chocolate and go to the gym. In this way she began the process of meeting both her emotional needs and achieving her fitness goals.
Are you Either Or / And?
Most people would have seen the black and white image of an old woman? She looks old when you look at her one way, and then she looks young when you look at her another way.
Do you notice what is in the foreground or what is in the background? Do you notice what is directly in your face or what is in your periphery? Is your awareness on the message that the advertiser presents to you or on what their intention might be? Is your awareness on the message that the politician presents to you or what the hidden message might be? On what the politician says or on what he is not saying? Do you take people at face value or look for other aspects of the message?
When you do something well does that count or do you discount it and say, "That does not count."
When someone else does something well does that count or do you say, "That is not good enough."
Those people who run a perfectionist strategy will often discount what they do because it is just not good enough.
One way to build self worth is to begin counting every little thing that you do, for example. Did you dress yourself this morning? Does that count? Hopefully your answer is yes. Did you feed yourself? Does that count? Did you get yourself to work? Does that count? Can you spell your name? Does that count? And so on...
When you bring something in to the foreground then it counts, when you move it into the background then it does not count - you have discounted it.
Are you a Counter / Discounter.
Do you notice the Foreground / Background.
What is your preferred representation system preference? That is visual, auditory or kinesthetic? When people are in visual mode they will use words that presuppose the use of that modality, for example.
Words that presuppose use of the visual modality are: see, look, show, illustrate, colour, bright, sparkle, radiate, etc.
Words that presuppose use of the auditory modality are: talk, hear, speak, have a word, sound, volume, turn it up, tempo, tune, etc.
Words that presuppose use of the kinesthetic sense are: feel, touch, hold, get a handle, grasp, warm, cool, get in touch with, etc.
Those people who are more auditory digital use few sensory based words.
Is your preference Visual, Auditory, Auditory Digital or Kinesthetic and in what sequence?
How do you know that you have made a good decision? Is it something that you see, hear, do or read? Or are you never really convinced?
Are you convinced by what looks right, what sounds right, what feels right, or what make sense?
The convincer representation is related to the convincer demonstration otherwise known as the reassurance strategy. You might be convinced that you made a good decision yet there could still be a feeling that you need reassurance.
Does the reassurance come after a period of time, or the number of times that you use, experience or practise something?
Are you reassured after a period of time or by the number of times?
The meta program preferences of global, intuition, reflection, internal reference, options, possibility, perceiving and being are about creation and meaning.
The preferences of details, sensing, action, external, procedures, necessity, judging and doing are about performance and action. There needs to be a balance between the two.
Work towards gaining flexibility with your own meta programs. So if you are global then practise sorting for details. If you habitually mismatch then practise matching. The key is flexibility and the reasoning is usefulness. Are your meta programs helping you to achieve your most cherished desired outcomes, or not? You can change a meta program with repetition by learning to think in a new way, and by changing the beliefs that hold the meta program in place.
Personality tests like the Myers Briggs and Roger Hamilton's Wealth Dynamics Profile measure a whole bunch of meta programs and then attempt to group them into personality types. The Myers Briggs gives you a choice of 16 personality types which is way too many to work with but the Wealth Dynamics Profile gives you a choice of 8 which can be easily mapped out onto a square. As the name suggests the focus of the Wealth Dynamics Profile is about learning to recognise meta program distinctions for the purpose of working to your strengths to make money, but it can also be applied to relationships.
Do you want to fall in love with the right person? Do you want to know how to make the best career choice? Do you want to make more money and build massive wealth?
If you could recognise meta programs how could you use that information to your advantage?
To learn how meta programs combine to form different personality types take Roger Hamilton's Wealth Dynamics Personality Test. This is well worth the investment.
The Wealth Dynamics Profile helps you to understand and recognise the eight personality types in respect of wealth creation. It gives you a structure and a foundation to work from. We build upon the WD Profile with our knowledge of meta programs.
The Wealth Spectrum Test gives you a model for level of success in business. Having a clear understanding of where you are on the wealth spectrum map gives us a structure that enables me to coach you to higher levels of success with NLP Coaching.
James, T., Woodsmall, W., Time Line Therapy and The Basis of Personality. Cupertino, California: Meta Publications, 1988.
Hall, L. Michael, Ph.D. Coaching Mastery Certification Manual. 2013
L. Michael Hall Ph.D and Bob G. Bodenhamer. Figuring Out People. 2006.
© Author Abby Eagle
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