Log In

Reset Password

Steps to Success: Avoid clashing more style tips

I am still reveling in my enjoyment of this past weekend. The Bermuda Day Parade was a treat for the senses and I tip my hat to all those whose effort and passion made it such a marvelous spectacle. This includes the spectators. I felt decidedly underdressed and had to stop a few people just to tell them how fabulous they looked in their outfits.

But ask Joan Rivers: people don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to style. My mother and I didn’t as a teenager going through my ‘purple-hair phase’!

Sometimes styles downright clash.

But this isn’t about fashion. We can find ourselves talking at cross-purposes rather than communicating because our personal styles and approaches are so different.

Adding another layer to an awareness of personality types and traits (see last week) is recognising our Meta Programs. According to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) we have some core, high-level (‘meta’) sorting and filtering processes, occurring unconsciously, that control other mental processes, like decision or strategy making. Similar to a program in a computer that controls the execution of other programs when needed. We might consider them reflexive, habitual thought programs.

NLP author, L. Michael Hall describes 51 of these Meta Programs in his book, "Figuring Out People” (Crown House, 2006). Looking at just three as an example, we can see how an awareness of Meta Programs offers insight into recognising a person’s motivations and how to better appreciate others’ perspectives to avoid a clash.

Some simple questions can help identify which Meta Programs we run. If testing yourself, write down your answers verbatim as they come to mind. If asking others, listen closely to their answers. The words we think and speak with are indicators of our Meta Programs.

Q1. What do you want in a job? (list 3 reasons) And for any one-word responses, answer: Why is that important?

The Toward vs. Away-From Meta Program - individuals tend to be focused and motivated either toward what they want, or away from what they don’t want.

If the answers state positive aspects of a job that directly entice you/(the person answering) towards it, these indicate a ‘Towards’ Meta Program. E.g. “I want a salary to make me wealthy and hours to suit my children’s schedule.”

However, if the answers include aspects that want to be avoided, they indicate an ‘Away-From’ program. (Any kind of comparison-type answer is an ‘Away-From’ response). E.g. “I want a salary so that I’m not poor and fixed-hours which suit my family better than shifts.”

Particular Meta-Programs are neither ‘bad’ nor ‘good’ but each has positives and drawbacks and being mindful of them promotes personal development and understanding. Often we are not motivated solely by one or the other but have a predominant tendency in one direction. Where do your answers place you on a continuum between the two?

‘Towards’ folks are motivated by incentives and rewards whereas ‘Away From’ people respond better to their fear of a penalty (something to be avoided) handy to know when attempting to persuade/encourage productivity in others.

A ‘Towards’ approach is highly beneficial in goal and objectives setting. An ‘Away-From’ goal like “not being poor”, has no goal remaining once the thing(s) to avoid has been avoided, and so feels unending with little positive satisfaction.

An ‘Away-From’ approach is great for critical review and grounding ideas in reality whereas over-using ‘Towards’ thinking can lead to naïve and potentially risky decisions if failing to identify potential obstacles.

An ‘Away-From’ person is focused mainly on the negatives to avoid, but as we perceive more of what we focus on, ‘Away From’ thinkers will tend to see more of those negatives. They may also have trouble recalling positive experiences from the past, only seeing the negative ones.

Q2. If we were doing a project together, would you want to know all the details first or the big picture first? Would you really need to know the other (the opposite of what they said)?

Global vs. Specific Meta Program - we tend to prefer either the big picture, concentrating on the overall design, concept and direction of a thing (global) or the details (specific), focusing on the small chunks and wanting to know each individual step to take.

‘Global’ thinkers are great visionaries and will recognise context and patterns from their wide perspective however they may get lost in or overlook important details and not follow step-by-step processes well. They can get bored if something is presented in too small chunks. Big picture ideas without detailed plans can often go nowhere.

A ‘Specific’ person will be great at creating a plan of manageable steps for executing an idea. However, getting engrossed in the minutia can lead to losing sight of the overall goal. Presented with something too ‘big picture’ a ‘Specific’ might dismiss it as vague or unsubstantial.

Imagine, for example, two colleagues: one Global and one Specific, trying to convince and persuade the other from their own perspective… and getting nowhere but frustrated. However, understanding another’s ‘program’ means we can present our ideas appropriately to them, then benefit from their complimentary skills and viewpoint.

Q3. Place 3 Quarters (coins) in front of you. What is the relationship between these three coins?

Match vs. Mismatch Meta Program some people notice more commonality and sameness whereas others notice more differences and contrasts. Were your answers predominately similarities between the coins (e.g. all round, all worth 25 cents etc.) or were they mainly the differences (e.g. different minting years, one longtail/one eagle etc.)? Where do you lie on the Match vs. Mismatch spectrum?

Matchers seek connections and sameness. Matching is important for building rapport and relationships and Matchers tend towards stability and likeness. However over-matching can lead to over-looking new information or, in relationships, a loss of boundaries by becoming too compliant.

Mismatchers are great at spotting differences and anomalies (they’d make great auditors for example) and are good at discerning the desirable or functional from their opposites (the wheat from the chaff). Over-using mismatching can lead to ignoring important connections, reducing available choices, hindering cooperation and productive relationships, and, in extremes, segregating groups.

These are just three of many Meta Programs, but an awareness of them helps to address potential habitual oversights or shortcomings, and work to our strengths. NLP suggests it is possible to change our Meta Programs. The process involves first temporarily ‘trying on’ the new program we wish to adopt, which might be an exercise for anyone hoping to gain a broader perspective and see the world through others’ eyes. Another way to avoid a clash and appreciate the personal styles others may be rocking.

Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner.

For further information contact Julia on (441)705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published May 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm (Updated May 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm)

Steps to Success: Avoid clashing more style tips

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon