Saturday, December 29, 2007

Seven Meta-Programs for Understanding People

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), meta-programs are the keys to the way you process information. They're basically how you form your internal representations and direct your behavior. In Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement, Tony Robbins writes about meta-programs that people use to sort and make sense of the world.

7 Meta-Programs

  • Toward or Away
  • External or Internal Frame of Reference
  • Sorting By Self or Sorting by Others
  • Matcher or Mismatcher
  • Convincer Strategy
  • Possibility vs. Necessity
  • Independent, Cooperative and Proximity Working Styles

Toward or Away
Robbins writes:

"All human behavior revolves around the urge gain pleasure or avoid pain. You pull away from a lighted match in order to avoid the pain of burning your hand. You sit and watch a beautiful sunset because you get pleasure from the glorious celestial show as day glides into night."

External or Internal Frame of Reference
Robbins writes:

"Ask someone else how he know when he's done a good job. For some people, the proof comes from the outside. The boss pats you on the back and says your work was great. You get a raise. You win a big award. Your work is noticed and applauded by your peers. When you get that sort of external approval, you know
your work is good. That's an external frame of reference.

For others, the proof comes from inside. They 'just know inside' when thy'eve done well."

Sorting By Self or Sorting by Others
Robbins writes:

"Some people look at human interactions primarily in terms of what's in it for them personally, some in terms of what they can do for themselves or others. Of course, people don't always fall into one extreme or the other. If you sort only by self, you become a self-absorbed egotist. If you sort only by others, you become a martyr."

Matcher or Mismatcher
Robbins writes:

"This meta-program determines how you sort information to learn, understand,
and the like. Some people respond to the world by finding sameness. They look at
things and see what they have in common. They're matchers.

Other people are mismatchers -- diference people. There are two kinds of them. One type looks at the world and sees how things are different ... The other kind of mismatcher sees differences with exceptions. He's like a matcher who finds sameness with exceptions in reverse - he sees the differences first, and then he'll add the things they have in common."

Convincer Strategy
This meta-program invovles what it takes to convince someone of something. Robbins writes:

"The convincer strategy has two parts. To figure out what consistently convinces someone, you must first find out what sensory building blocks he needs to become convinced, and then you must discover how often he has to receive these stimuli before becoming convinced.

To discover someone's convincer meta-program, ask, 'How do you know when
someone else is good at a job? Do you have to a) see them or watch them do it, b) hear about how good they are, c) do it with them, or d) read about their ability?' The answer may be a combination of these. You may believe someone's good when you see him do a good job and when other people tell you he's good.

The next question is, 'How often does someone have to demonstrate he's good before you're convinced?' There are four possible answers: a) immediately (for example, if they demonstrate that they're good at something once, you believe them), b) a number of times (two or more), c) over a period of time (say, a few weeks or a month or a year), and d) consistently. In the last case, a person has to demonstrate that he's good each and every time. "

Possibility vs. Necessity
Robbins writes:

"Ask someone why he went to work for his present company or why he gought
his current car or house. Some people are motivated priimarily by necessity, rather than by what they want. They do something because they must. They're not pulled to take action by what is possible. They're not looking for infinite
varieties of expeirence. They go through life taking what comes and what is
available. When they need a new job or a new house or a new car or even a new
spouse, they go out and accept what is available.

Others are motivated to look for possibilities. They're motivated less by what they have to do than by what they want to do. They seek options, experiences, choices, paths. "

Independent, Cooperative and Proximity Working Styles
Robbins writes:

"Everyone has his own strategy for work. Some people are not happy unless they're independent. They have great difficulty working closely with other people and can't work well under a great deal of supervision. They have to run their own show. Others function best as a part of a group. We call their strategy a cooperative one. They want to share responsbility for any task they take on. Still others have a proximity strategy, which is somewhere in between. They prefer to workwith other people while maintaining a sole responsibility for a task. They're in charge but not alone."

Additional Considerations
Robbins provides the following suggestions:

  • All metaprograms are context-and stress-related
  • There's two ways to change meta-programs. One is from a significant emotional event.
  • The other way you can change is by consciously deciding to do so.
  • Use meta-programs on two levels. The first is a tool to calibrate and guide your communication with others. The second is a tool for personal change.
  • Constantly gauge and calibrate the people around you. Take note of specific patternsthey have for perceiving their world and begin to analyze if others have similar patterns.
  • Through this approach you can develop a whole set of distinctions about people that can empower you in knowing how to communicate effectively with all types of people.
  • Become a student of possiblity. Meta-programs give you the tools to make crucial distinctions in deciding how to deal with people. You are not limited to the meta-programs discussed here.

Key Take Aways
I think knowing how people work, helps bridge gaps. Here's my key take aways:

  • Use meta-programs to understand yourself and others. Meta-programs helps you understand how people sort and make sense of the world. They also help you understand your own values, beliefs and behaviors.
  • Remember that people use a blend of meta-programs. It's not this or that, it's a spectrum of possibilities. It's a tool for understanding how or why people behave and adapting your own behaviors to improve communication. They aren't a tool for stereo-typing or pidgeon-holing.
  • Change your own limiting meta-programs. If you have a way of processing the world that's limiting your success, find a way to consciously adapt. Identifying your own meta-programs you use is a start. Once you have awareness, you can see how this shows up.

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