Metaprograms

How to Communicate Better with Others and Ourselves

Adapted from concepts in Tony Robbins' book Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement.

To communicate with a computer, you have to understand its software. To communicate effectively with people, you have to understand their metaprograms. Once you understand their metaprograms, tailor your way of communicating accordingly and your communications with them should improve significantly. When you find it difficult to get your message through to someone, don't change your content, rather, change its form to fit the other person's metaprograms. Hit 'em where they're at, rather than where you're coming from . . . while still getting your message across. Want to hit them even more effectively? Target several of their metaprograms simultaneously.

How do you determine a person's metaprograms? Simply observe that person as carefully as possible, listen to what they say, what sort of metaphors they use, what their physiology reveals, when they're attentive and when they're bored. People reveal their metaprograms constantly. Ask them questions (see below).

Think of metaprograms as filters--ways that a person's brain sifts through its experiential data to determine the "meaning" of what a person has experienced. A metaprogram tells the brain what to delete. If you alter the form of your content to fit a person's metaprograms, you maximize the possibility that your content reaches the target and minimize the possibility of your content being "deleted."


The Main Metaprograms are:

  • Moving Toward Something or Away from Something--Ask a person what they want in a relationship, a house, a car, or anything else. Do they tell you what they want or don't want? If they tell you what they want; their metaprogram is one of moving toward something. If they tell you what they don't want, their metaprogram is moving away from something.
     
  • External vs. Internal Frames of Reference--Ask someone how they know when they've done a good job. Do they tell you that they just know or that feedback from others tells them so?
     
  • Sorting by Self or Sorting by Others--Some people look at human interactions in terms of what's in it for them, others in terms of what they can do for others. To see if a person is sorting by self or by others, see how much attention they pay to other people. Do they lean toward people and have facial expressions that reflect concern for what others are saying or do they lean back and remain bored and unresponsive?
     
  • Matching vs. Mismatching-- Some people respond to the world always looking for similarities; others by always looking for differences. Matchers are valuable when creativity is most important; mismatchers are valuable when its time to find the flaws in seemingly wonderful ideas or plans. Most people are matchers, but mismatchers are extremely valuable because they often see what the rest of us don't.
     
  • Persuasion--What does it take to convince someone of something? When you find out, use what you learn to revise how you communicate your message so that it maximizes its chances of convincing the person.
     
    • To find out what their convincer metaprogram is, ask the following question: how do you know when someone else is good at a job? Then follow up with: Do you have to see them or watch them do it? Do you have to hear about how good they are? Do you have to do it with them? Do you have to read about their ability?
       
  • Possibility vs. Necessity--Some people are motivated by necessity rather than what they want. The person who's motivated by necessity is interested in what's known, what's secure, and what they have to do. Those who are motivated by possibility are motivated less by what they have to do than by what they want to do. They seek options, experiences, choices, paths. They're equally interested in what's not known. They want to know what can evolve, what possibilities can develop.
     
  • Working Style--Some people aren't happy unless they can work independently. Others function better as part of a group. Still others have a proximity strategy--they prefer to work with other people while maintaining sole responsibility for a task; they're in charge but not alone.

Not only can metaprograms be used to guide our communications with others but they can also be used as tools for personal change. To change your metaprograms, all you have to do is become aware of the things you normally delete AND BEGIN TO FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON THEM

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Last Updated:

Sunday, January 20, 2008