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MetaPrograms Accessing Cues

By Mateusz Grzesiak

The credit for inspiring me and giving the idea to work on this goes to Eric Robbie - in July 2005 in Mexico on Master Prac course he only mentioned Meta Programs Accessing Cues and I thought - WOW. It was sort of the feeling psychologists get when they discover fast phobia cure - they go, "Hey!! We can do it in five minutes instead of 10 years!!"

I definiately was not the biggest fan of Meta Programs - I knew they were important, but recognizing them linguistically felt like loss of time; I never found a trainer who congruently was always able to utlize them. Then there was the idea that what is more important than Meta Programs themselves is the sequence of them - I thought that worked better, since never in my life did I find anyone who would always have this particular MP or other - too often they were used as as just another way of categorizing people.

Let`s say there`s a polarised person and they will do just the opposite to what you say and do. If you wanted to recognize this Meta Program verbally - you would need more time and risk more. You come up to the person, say: "I have this contract for you", and what they do in their head is already against what you are planning to achieve - it`s too late. What you were after was saying: "Probably you wouldn`t be interested in this - they do the opposite, there you go. The question is - how would you know what to say?

The idea of accessing Meta Programs non-verbally opened many doors. First, you don`t need to ask - you just know before they open their mouth. Second, I noticed a common misconception that MP`s deal mainly with language - I believe they do, but my guess it they are much more behavioural then linguistic. Think about it - compare two people, one motivated towards, one motivated away from. Think about the way they move when talk about their goals. The way a procedure person gestures. The way a reactive person looks at you.

The way I have been discovering all these basically comes down to three stages - initially for a few weeks I would compare in my head bahaviour, voice and looks of the people I know have this or that MP. This would give me some idea how they differed. This also lead me to good conclusions - obviously MP`s come in different "sizes and shapes", but there were many coomon features too. Then I would practise - assess MP`s of a person before I started talking to them and later verbally check my predictions. Finally - and this text is the result of this on my last Master Prac In Warsaw, Poland, I gave my students a special task which took us two full days. Results were astonishing and very creative.

I gave all them a sheet which looked the way you see it here:




On a flipchart, so that everyone could see, I put a list of 15 most popular MP`s. It stayed there for a few days, during which I would nest many stories, refer to them from time to time and point in a humorous way to some bahaviours of my students in the seminar which defined certain kind of MP. In other words, I was preparing them for a few days so that they practically realised what MP`s were about.

Then the day came and I handed them the sheets you can see above. I diveded them in groups of three and gave each one a task.

The first person was to "have a certain MP. In other words I believed you can tell someone to be for instance a proactive type and they will. I gave them new temporary identities. And I hoped that everything else - bahaviour, beliefs, intonation and voice, vocabulary, the way of talking, maybe even some reinterpratation of values - would follow; and my predictions were right. Call someone a hunk no matter what they look like, make them believe in it and there you go. It does work.

This proved also, though they didn`t realise that quickly, that the way I did it presupposed that MP`s can be changed - if you can have any given in an exercise and congruently "function with it, then obviously it teaches that you can choose which one you want to have and when. The second person was the one starting a conversation - we chose very simple stuff, like going out together, planning which movie to see etc. - this part did not matter.

The third person was to observe the two - not say a word, just see, hear and feel.

After like 5-minute conversation I asked all them to quietly fill the sheet with their observations. Notice - doing so I had three different perspectives, since the first one was "me", the second "you", and the third one "they". When they were done I asked them to compare individual observations within the group and notice what was similar. Then we would do the same with me and compare what all groups had - notice similarities, agree congruently in what was there and make conclusions. This article is the result of what we did.

If you notice, I chose ten categories to focus on. Some of them in certain situations did not prove to be useful - in others they were crucial.

1. Repeated words obviously dealt with what they were saying. For the purpose of the exercise which mainly did with non-verbal part, words used were not so much important, and they were an obvious consequence of other observations. You could even predict what the person was going to say on the basis of other things. But still, useful.

2. Grammar structures played important role in a few cases - especially proactive/reactive MP`s. We also paid attention which MP was more asking than stating or negating.

3. Voice was absolutely crucial - we focused on intonation, speed, pace and other submodalities.

4. Body dealt with posistion, which quite often presupposed internal mechanisms. Obviously if you get a person who sits bending down, head down, shoulder slack, they are bahaviorally proesupposed to make small pictures close to their heads - if the floor blocked your way so would you!!

5. Gestures to me always helped to discover submodalities - they would draw in front of my eyes, point where Internal Dialogue was coming from or where things were. In this case this is also true.

6. Face is made of more than 80 muscles working together - in communication it reflects so much, that I am sure people underestimate its rich meaning. Many times they would say "there`s something in the face which tells me this" etc. without being able to precisely state what it was. Interestingly, this took place here too.

7. Submodalities were mainly accessesed by Eric`s SMEAC`s - we dealt with the most important things, like sizes, numbers, shapes, colours, distance, leaving some less important aside. Association and dissociation in many situations was crucial.

8. Internal dialogue was crucial - we treated it as basically internal equivalent of external voice, just that ID wouldn`t be heard on the outside and is definiately primary to external voice. We paid special attention to intonation patterns and content of what it said.

9. Kinesthetics is based on what the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person were feeling. We described and categorized it ('relaxed", "tense etc.) rather than described submodalities

10. Other was the pot for anything else that came to our heads

The following is the description of our observations and conclusions - by no means do I claim the list is exhaustive or always works - what`s more, I`m absolutely positive there`s so much more to discover and uncover that this is just a peak of an iceberg. I chose things that worked for us, avoided mind reading and speculating what "could be there, just focused on what we saw, heard and felt without interpreting it. E-mail me ( with your ideas and feedback, Meta Programs Accessing Cues is a fantastic thing to work on and it can move us much forward in our learnings and teachings.

1. Proactive and reactive MP

- Active type is a leader - he chooses most of the decisions himself, often basis on internal standards and authority. He uses first person singular ("I") or plural ("We"). His sentences are semantically well-formed with absolutely characteristic use of active voice. He speaks fluently, confidently, specifically. Body position suggests self-confidence, he plants himself often, head and shoulders straight up. Deep breathing. Makes big, often panoramic pictures, 3D, vety often associated - this influences his kinesthetics, because Active`s are the type who gesture, move, switch their position often. He leads more than paces. Little or no internal dialogue, if so - hardly ever anything verbalised, rather silent subconscious intonation patterns like - "mmmmmmmm", which strenghten his state and power of persuasion. His chunks up rather than down and moves to options rather than procedures.

- Reactive type avoids responsibility and is more prone to feel guilty. He basis on external standards and authority. Wants decisions to be made instead of making them. Crucial use of passive voice - "it has to be done", "it must", "one should". Asks many questions (rather than states statements), because prefares when the answers come from different sources than himself. Interestingly, when he is asked to perform or decide, often he will go into "don`t want to or "confused what to do states. Uses obligation ("must", "have to") and necessity ('should"), which automatically makes him motivated in away from manner. A lot of internal dialogue searching content-wise for answers and installing doubt. Many small pictures without specific content, often blurred, moving around. Dissociates himself, which makes sense with his behaviour - he sees himself in situations as marionette and subject of decisions rather than source of them. "Placetor in Satir categories - pleads, apologises, takes guilt, is sorry. He might be tense often, face expresses anticipation.

2. Motivation towards and away from

- Motivated towards are easy to spot - they state things in positive and avoid nagation. The crucial point is that they like the things they "want", not "should or "must". This difference is very important - motivated towards chooses a corrot and dislikes the stick. His voice is often excited, more relaxed and confident. He can "turn on like madcap, shows his emotions, experiences externally, enjoys more. In non-NLP language he`s an optimist, what is obviously connected with "positive submodalities he`s making - tons of pleasant colors and a lot of brightness. The bigger the size of the picture, the more "turned on they will be. They "have no time for ID, if it`s there in hardly ever verbalized, rather goes into intonation patterns which enrich their states. A lot of eye movements going in different directions, often jumping from a picture to picture or seeing a big, panoramic one. A lot of gestures, used to desribe and emphasise submodalities. They smile a lot - thinking about nice feeling they will have which comes from the picture they make simply makes them feel good. A loop is created - picture makes them feel good, kinesthetic reaction is evoked, which makes the submodalities more intense, which influences kinestehtics and so on.

- Motivated away from - this type avoids bad experiences. Often they use obligation ("have to and "must"). Sentences are well chosen and thought over; logical, rational computer. Often they give reasons why. Pictures are dark compared with towards motivation and dominated by black, grey, dark green, blue colours (they will even say this verbally, like - I have dark thought about this). These are rather movies, usually with unpleasant ending. Doesn`t smile too much. Face is darker, greyish, after years with more wrinkles and lips curling down. They use "what if very often and polarise to what people say. The emotion which they get when halucinated evil doesn`t happen is only a relief - which is an example of stick motivation. They explain themselves with "I want to avoid the worst when calles pessimists. A lot of ID with horrible intonation. Characteristic, when they walk or move they often lose rhythm and fluency - I believe it`s due to internal incongruence (he rushes to work to avoid his boss scolding him, which makes him feel bad and it influences his "flow"). I believe - and it is my guess - that these people die from heart attacks more than anyone else. Funny, I also think there are more men motivated away from than women. Voice is often sad, disappointed, worried.

3. Internal and external standards

- Internal standards and authority - he believes his assessments and judgements more than the others. Often polarised to what the others say, especially if concerns himself to have authority on the topic. Confident voice, often with a manner. Words like "me", "I appear in different variants. Easy to manipulate by giving compliments and confirming he`s right. Once I watched a cartoon - Johnny Bravo it was - and Johnny was picking up a girl. After talking about himself for long, finally he goes - "But dear, let`s not talk about me, let`s talk about you! So, what do you think of me? Body is straighten up, focused on his speakers, he loves argumenting. Firm body position, planted. Gestures used to emphasise he`s right, like for example pointing to himself, open hand moving in the air, a fist. Makes many pictures in frames, contrasted and content-specific. Often associated. ID is usually only his. Kinesthetics often based on self-control and confidence. Paradoxally, he sometimes needs to know opinions of others. Uses active voice.

- External standards and authority - looks for external confirmation. Makes small and distanced pictures of what he thinks and bigger and closer of the others. Many pictures flow around his head, sometimes without any content, which may confuse him. They can be often one of many sources of information. A lot of ID of external origin, i.e. he hears other people talking in his head with authoritative or authoritarian intonation. He loses rhythm while talking to others, because tries to do both things at a time - be up-time and talk to you and in-time listening to ID. Uses external reference like "they said". Might be reactive. Less focused on the speaker, trances out often, his faces expresses conentration, reflexion or looking for something. He quotes a lot.

4. Options and procedures

- Options - uses many verbs and action words. Values freedom. Loves possibilities and diversion, the more to choose from the better he will feel. That`s why he can make many pictures in front of his face, all of them allowing him to choose from different ideas. Other possibility is that he will have a few framed matrix without any content, which he would fulfill with options that come up. He accepts much more than finds the opposite. He is pretty relaxed and confident - characteritsic since there is always some other solution. Voice would be a bit slower than usually, sentences often ill-formed. I consider Carribbean life style one big options MP - they wake up in the morning, there`s not too much to do on the island, so they just take it easy, it`s ok no matter what crops up. Face expresses looking and searching for possibilities, there`s no tension in the muscles, rather stable colours.

- Procedures person is characterised above all by gestures they make. To know the procedure they have to have some sort of internal way of organizing it - my observation is it`s almost always a list with course of action or a set of small pictures grouped together in a sequence and organized from left to right, up down etc. Quite often there`s ID which literally counts the steps. These people will say: "firstly, we", "then", "next" and move their fingers accordingly or simply point with them reading steps from a list. Probably it`s the most easily spotted MP - pictures will be small, framed, with the written list, close to their faces, contrasted, rather 2D. Are very specific, can drill you with their eyes, ask loads of questions and don`t know what to do when the idea is chunked up too much. Then they lose safety or confidence, because there are no steps which could be followed. May have loads of ID is sometimes is faster than they speak. ID can lead them to other questions or explain in confident manner what to do next. He listens pricesely to the speaker, faces him and pays attention. Doen`t trance very much, spends most of his time uptime. Uses his hands all the time close to his body. Often procedure person combines it with chunking up - naturally his language is specific, precise and full of expamples.

About The Author
Mateusz Grzesiak - Licensed NLP Trainer and coach, conducts NLP seminars, coaching and hypnosis workshops in Poland and elsewhere.

2005 - All rights reserved.

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