The word Meta means after beyond or later. In NLP the word Meta programmes are some of the filters that decide which bits of information coming in you pay attention to, the way you process that information and how you communicate it. You pick up the meta programmes you use from your parents, teachers, community and culture etc. So your life experiences may change these meta programmes over time. Your meta programmes will affect the job you choose, your learning styles, the relationships you have and many other areas of your life. Your meta programmes are context dependant which means you will operate different meta programmes for each area of your life.

If you wanted to model someone, you could try and do so by doing what you think they would do. Or you could find out what they would actually do by using their Meta programs. Their meta programmes will not tell you what they are thinking but how they are thinking.

In the encyclopaedia of NLP, Robert Diltz and Judith DeLozier explain meta programs with reference to two different people who have the same decision making strategy, who conclude different results when presented with the same information. The difference is because they are using different meta programs which influence their decision making strategy.

In NLP meta programmes can be used to identify personality traits such as levels of motivation in a specific area of life.

Motivation traits within Meta Programmes:

1. Toward – Away From:

Toward: the goal oriented people fall into type. They will tend to look for what is positive. You can influence them by using the words like, accomplish, rewards, goals etc.

Away from: These people are focusing on what it is they want to avoid so you will recognize them by the words, avoid, eliminate, get rid of, prohibit etc.

2. Internal – External:

Internal: these persons are self-reliant, when it comes to assessment of a situation. They know within themselves what is right for them and do not feel the need for external verification.

External: they are in constant need of outside feedback for assessment. So if this applies when in a work/career situation, the they make good customer service representatives!

3. Sameness – Difference:

Sameness: These people tend to have little changes in their situation. If you compare what is going on for them now, to what was going on for them 12 months ago, they will usually highlight many similarities.

Differences: These people are the supporter of changes and can not stay in a static environment. They may use words such as new, fresh, totally different, completely changed, radical idea.

4. Specific – Global:

Specific: These people prefer to work with the minute details. If this applies in a work environment then they make good bookkeepers and assembly line workers. Motivate them by exactly, in particular, specifically.

Global: These people work better if are provided with an overview of a situation and get bored if given the finer details.

Meta programmes allow you to have a better understanding of the “map” each person has of the “territory.” So those with similar meta programmes will use similar language and develop rapport with each other quickly. When you know how others use their meta programmes youcan use that informtaion to gaina good connection with them and motivate to do more whilst feeling enthusiastic about the task in hand.

By Gemma Bailey