Is The Meta Model JUST Chunking Down?

I have heard it said by several people I have spoken to (one a very experienced NLP Trainer no less) that the Meta Model is “JUST chunking down” and all the language patterns etc are unnecessary and confuse the issue.

When I hear people tell me the Meta Model is “just chunking down”, then I suspect two things:

  1. The person doesn’t understand the Meta Model
  2. The person doesn’t understand chunking

The Meta Model is an incredible tool to create conversational change and to use it to “just chunk down” is not only misunderstanding it, but using it for it’s most trivial application. Chunking down, or gathering more information, may or may not be useful depending on the situation you are in.

To quote Richard Bandler in the “The Structure of Magic“, artful use of the Meta Model can:

“…involve the client in recovering the deep structure – the full linguistic representation. The next step is to challenge the deep structure in such a way to enrich it.”

Recovering and enriching the deep structure is not about chunking down, it is about asking appropriate questions to explore the persons map of the world (deep structure) and make them aware of things they have generalised, distorted or deleted. To do this you may need to chunk up, chunk down or even chunk laterally. If you just chunk down, you tend to get A LOT of information, some of which may be useful, some may just confuse the issue.

An Example of Using the Meta Model to Chunk Up

Let us use the example of “I find it hard to take the bin bags out on a Monday morning”. You need to help the client recover the deep structure of this “belief” about themselves. To do this you would probably want to check that the issue is in fact bin bags (that they are at the right “chunk level”). A perfect legitimate question to ask from a Meta Model perspective (but not the ONLY question or the RIGHT question), could be “Is it just bin bags?” (challenging the implied (Universal) Quantifier). Now, is this chunking down? No. It is in fact chunking up.

If in this example, I chose to “chunk down” before clarifying the issue by chunking up, I could ask the often over-quoted and misunderstood question “What specifically about bin bags is the problem?” (this takes you to a very specific part of the persons map that may or may not be where you need to go…). This would get you absolutely loads of information, it would be the proverbial can of worms. Then you would have to sort through all that information to find out what is relevant or not.

So you can either chunk up or chunk down with the Meta Model and which way you go depends very much what context you are in.

Learn more about the Meta Model and how to use it effectively with my new book “The Meta Model Demystified”.

About Matt Caulfield