The Meta Model is much more than just churning out rote learnt questions in a hope you may stumble across an appropriate response. You need to formulate your question for the appropriate situations, this means you have to take 3 things into account.

  1. The Statement itself
  2. The Context in which the statement is made
  3. The Outcome you are after

When learning the Meta model you would have come across lots of “Language Patterns” and suggested ways of challenging them, but if you just took the patterns you may end up asking totally the wrong question and ending up somewhere you don’t want to be.

An Example of How NOT to Use the Meta Model

Let me give you an example, if you were to hear “Well, people say I am no good at…”, if you just worked with the statement, you would probably want to ask “Which people?” or “Who says?”. Which is perfectly fine, however you may not want or need to know about the people at this moment in time. This could end up with the client just moaning about people and then you have wandered way off the issue. This is a common problem with the Meta Model that I have noticed, by just using “knee jerk” questions to certain comments or phrases, without considering the context or the outcome you can end up going round and round and round and round and round in circles!

A Suggested Process for Using the Meta Model More Effectively

Before you even begin, find out what the client wants, get it well defined and anchor it. This will directionalise your conversation. Make sure you are clear about the context in which they want to make the change and then and only then listen to the patterns of their language. This will help you ask the most appropriate question at the most appropriate time.

Learn more about how to use the Meta Model effectively to create conversational change here.

A lot is talked about in the self improvement field about goal setting and achieving outcomes.

NLP itself has a “well formed outcome model” which suggests how to go about designing a desired outcome in the most useful way, and I do spend a lot of time talking about outcomes and desired states in my Practitioner training.

However, this focus on outcomes is to just to help you get used to facing in the right direction…

You can use outcomes as mile markers in your direction, ways of checking you are going the right way, but the problem with outcomes based thinking alone is that it is limited and not overly useful in every context.

Let me give you an example:

You set a goal to lose some weight. You manage it, you hit your target weight. Brilliant! Now what?

This is why people often yoyo when they diet. They hit the target weight, they lose motivation and then just put the weight back on.

Sound familiar?

3 more disadvantages of outcome based thinking:

1. it may be the wrong goal for you

I have lost count of the number of clients I have had who are convinced they want or need something that is utterly inappropriate for them. Because they are so fixated on it they refuse to consider anything else (see below) and it is a nightmare to try and help them change course!

2. goals can be restrictive

You set a goal, you focus on that goal, you miss everything else. You may be offered better opportunities, but you miss them as you are fixated on the goal (that may longer be the best thing for you).

And most importantly…

3. goals mean you often miss the journey:

Life is a journey after all, if you focus on your goals you miss everything that is going on around you. Just imagine putting up with utter pain for the sake of a goal and then getting hit by a bus before you achieve it. Was it worth it?

It is much better to think about direction.

what is the difference between outcome and direction?

Like many things, the difference is very subtle and often only noticed in the way you phrase something. If you say “I want to be thin” or “I want to lose weight” (to carry on the weight loss example), these are goal based statements and prone to failure. If, however, you say “I want to be fit and healthy”, then that is a direction based statement. How you phrase your desires has a profound effect on your psychology…

I will leave you with this video from The South Park creators and Alan Watts which highlights my point perfectly.