NLP Meta Model: Subjective Experience

The NLP Meta Model describes the process people use to experience reality: Deletion, distortion & generalization.

sym-brain-activeAccording to the NLP Meta Model, we start arriving at our model/map of reality through deleting reality. Leave out or ignore may be physically more accurate than delete, but it is easier to think of as information being deleted. When information is ‘deleted’, some of it is not physically present in the brain to be retrieved and some of it is.

Deletion Happens on 3 levels.

  • You delete large amounts of sensory input to form the basis of experience.
  • You delete some of what you have experienced when you remember it.
  • You delete some of what you remember when you communicate about it.

sym-brain-connectIn each of the above, what is deleted depends on: context, sensory relevance, conditioned responses, beliefs and values. An example of this is when someone uses only one word, like “Fantastic!” or “Great!” to describe their vacation.

  • Communication deletes tremendous amounts of information.
  • To understand what is being communicated, a person may use their own experiences to fill in what’s been deleted.
  • Misunderstanding is created when the deletions are not filled in the way the communicator intended.

sym-interactTo get a better understanding of the information you are receiving, ask questions. A sentence may contain several deletions. Ask questions about context and activities. If you don’t get the response you want, ask another question or another type of question.

To get more information about someone’s experience, a simple question to ask yourself is “What is being deleted here?”. Questioning what is being deleted can help expand someone’s communication, memory and experience of reality in ways that helps them deal with it more effectively.

The Meta Model describes how people experience reality. Using this information requires noticing it in reverse order. Start with how people generalize their experience of reality.

Meta Model: elements of language that delete experience.

  • Generalization: Information is limited, restricting.
    • Universals: All, Every, Never. Ask: All? Every? Never?
    • Quantifiers: Should, Shouldn’t, Must, Can’t. Ask: What if you did or didn’t? What causes or prevents?
  • Distortion: Information is kind ‘a there but it’s not.
    • Verbs made into nouns. Ask: What?
    • Missing source of opinion. Ask: How do you know?
  • Deletion: Information is missing and people presume you know what it is.
    • Too Much, Too many, Too expensive. Ask: Compared to what?
    • Unspecified Verbs. Ask: How?
    • Nouns. Ask: Who or what?

The version of how to question deletions shown above, has had details deleted. Learning the detailed version in our NLP training, will enable you to use this simple one more effectively.

Deleting deletion is a paradox. Deletion is at the core of experience and as such, cannot be deleted.

Learn more about NLP Meta Model applications.

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