Sunday, December 23, 2007

Meta-Programs and Intrinsic Values in NLP

Would you like to improve how you communicate to yourself and others? Intrinsic values show themselves as patterns in what you say, how you say it, and what you do. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) calls these intrinsic values, meta-programs. You can think of each meta-progam as a range of behavior and tendencies based on what you value. The real key is to pay attention to know where your intrinsic values are holding you back, and to use the meta-progams to help you improve your effectiveness with others. In Brilliant Nlp: What the Most Successful People Know, Say & Do, David Molden and Pat Hutchinson write about some of the most common NLP meta-programs.

Molden and Hutchinson write about the following NLP intrinsic values:

  • Towards and Away From
  • Options and Procedures
  • In-Time and Thru-Time
  • Internal Frame of Reference and External Frame of Reference
  • Self and Others
  • Detail and Global
  • Feeling and Thinking
  • Sameness and Difference

Towards and Away From
If you have a Towards Program, you tend to move towards pleasure. You set goals easily and frequently create new goals for yourself. If you have an Away Program, you focus on moving away from pain and avoiding risk. You make sure everything is safe before moving forward.

Towards Program

  • Advantages - forward-thinking, goal-oriented, positive energy and drive.
  • Disadvantages - may get entangled by too many new intitiatives at once; may be perceived as 'gung-ho'; has a tendency to leave things unfinished.

Away From Program

  • Advantages - very good at assessing risks and recognizing what to avoid.
  • Disadvantages - overly cautious with a tendency to focus on the downside; may appear negative and unwilling to try new experiences; makes choices based on avoidance rather than a desire for something new.

Options and Procedures
If you have an Options Program, you like to have choices in your life. If you have a Procedures Program, you like to have rituals and routines to follow in order to be effective.

Options Program

  • Advantages - explores many options and provides people with choices; happy to test and break rules.
  • Disadvantages - may procrastinate and avoid making decisions until forced to do so by circumstances; very good at rinventing the wheel.

Procedures Program

  • Advantages - very efficient; good with rule-based administration; will stick to agreed notes.
  • Disadvantages - the procedure may become more important than the job to be done; at worst bureaucratic and blocking.

In-Time and Thru-Time
If you have an In-Time Program, you live "in the moment", not worrying about what comes next. You are fully engaged in the present and you value each moment. If you have a Thru-Time Program, you spend your time planning and making sure you are not late for meetings. Your preoccuptation with planning your next moment or analyzing the last may prevent you from concentrating on the matter in hand.

In-Time Program

  • Advantages - can concentrate on tasks; emotionally and mentally enaged in each activity and every experience.
  • Disadvantages - frequently late and can give the impression of not being concerned about timekeeping; may get involved in too many things through attachment.

Thru-Time Program

  • Advantages - good planner and timekeeper.
  • Disadvantages - may give the impression of not being engaged in the current activity; being on time, and scheduling activities, can become more important than the activities themselves.

Internal Frame of Reference and External Frame of Reference
If you have an Internal Frame of Reference Program, you insintively know when you have done a good job and you will want to solve all your own problems. You will want to solve all your own problems. You rearely ask for advice from other people. You make decisions on your own judgements, feelings and opinions. If you have an External Frame of Reference Program, you measure yourself against the feedback from other people. When faced with a challenge, you will seek facts, evidence, advice and opinions from other people and sources.

Internal Frame of Reference Program

  • Advantages - can stay motivated when there is little feedback or praise.
  • Disadvantages - internal standards may override, and sometimes cancel out, external evidence; will disregard evidence, facts, and sound advice from other people.

External Frame of Reference Program

  • Advantages - will make decisions based on concrete facts and evidence, or maybe just the 'feel good' factor so long as it comes from an external source; able to give excellent customer service and help to others.
  • Disadvantages - will get stressed when there is a lack of external feedback. Needs frequent feedback on performance to make good progress; will be indecisive if there is a lack of feedback.

Self and Others
If you have a Self Program, you speak in terms of "I" and "What's in it for me?" You believe that people are capable of looking after themselves. You help yourself to coffee, push in front of traffic queues, take the last chocolate and put yourself first when making decisions. If you have an Others Program, you spend a lot of time making sure everyone is comfortable and happy and may neglect your own needs and wants.

Self Program

  • Advantages - looks after self and is very self-sufficient; avoid getting tangled up in other people's problems.
  • Disadvantages - does not engender good team spirit and somtimes may be perceived as arrogant and uncaring.

Others Program

  • Advantages - good team player looking out for the needs of others; does well in caring professions.
  • Disadvantages - personal well-being can suffer through putting other people first; can be perceived as unpredictable because many decisions are based on what others think and how they might react; considers the welfare of the team to be more important than getting the job done.

Detail and Global
If you have a Detail Program, you will be concerned about the specifics of a situation. Your conversations are likely to be long and drawn out to cover all the details. While focusing on the details you sometimes forget the overall purpose. If you have a Global Program, you look at situations from the bigger picture and speak in general terms avoiding detail. You move conversations onto different topics in preference to discussing details.

Detail Program:

  • Advantages - very comfortable working with details and excellent at spotting small mistakes; copes very well with large documents and small print.
  • Disadvantages - can get bogged down in detail and work away happily, even though the purpose may have changed; may be perceived as pendantic or fasitious.

Global Program:

  • Advantages - make a good strategist or concept creator; can generate big ideas.
  • Disadvantages - may appear to have the head in the clouds; may feel uncomfortable holding a detailed conversation; frustration with details may result in too many ideas and little execution.

Feeling and Thinking
If you have a Feeling Program, you react emotionally to a variety of situations. If you have a Thinking Program, you take a pragmatic approach and logical approach to situations while remaining emotionally detached.

Feeling Program

  • Advantages - takes people's feelings into account in making decisions.
  • Disadvantages - can appear emotive; others may be wary of evoking an emotional response.

Thinking Program

  • Advantages - decisions are made based on logic, fact and evaluation.
  • Disadvantages - can appear to be cold and unfeeling; may not consider the feelings of others before speaking and acting.

Sameness and Difference
If you have a Sameness Program, you will generate understanding by looking for similarities with previous experience. Repitition doesn't bore you, it instils comfort and familiarity.

Sameness Program:

  • Advantages - can be relied on to complete repetitive activities successfully.
  • Disadvantages - may be perceived as unadventurous by others; may not be willing to try new things even if they could be beneficial.

Difference Program

  • Advantages - happy to try out new ideas and concepts; gains many different life experiences.
  • Disadvantages - sometimes creates change for the sake of creating change; doesn't understand the concept of "if it works don't fix it"; lack of stability.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Know the types of intrinsic values.
  • Know your own intrinsic values.
  • Know the intrinsic values of those you interact with.

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