Visual
Auditory
Kinesthetic

Away-from
Towards

Proactive
Reactive

Big Chunk
Small Chunk

Internal
External

Options
Procedures

Match
Mismatch

Intime
thrutime

Past
Present
Future

Extroversion
Introversion

Sensing
Perceiving

Thinking
Feeling

Judger
Perceiver

Preferences, or what NLP calls Meta Programs, are the deepest level, content-free programs that filter our perception. Meta Programs serve the purpose of deletion and distortion, and they maintain or break our generalisations.

Meta Programs are the habitual ways we think about our experience, leading to habitual ways of acting. Meta programs directionalize our attention by deleting information and creating systematic, habitual patterns of thinking and behaviour.


What do you see - a rabbit or a duck?

Meta programs may differ across contexts, and in organisations they can help to explain preferences for job types and provide insights as to why some people are able to excel at particular tasks that others struggle with. These systematic and habitual patterns are called meta programs because they program our behaviour at a level of influence that is over and above (meta) everything else.

Meta Programs are patterns of behaviour, not types of people. They are systematic and habitual, and we do not usually question them if they serve us well. You will notice other peoples Meta Programs both through their language and behaviour. Because Meta Programs filter experience, and we pass on our experience through language, certain patterns of language are typical of certain metaprograms.

New Oceans research has discovered there are some sixty meta programs that we unconsciously use to filter our perception. The New Oceans Personality Profiling Process has reduced this large set to a set of fundamental Meta Programs that can predict how some one will behave in a given context.

Some of the Key Meta Programs

SENSORY REPRESENTATION

This preference indicates the sensory system a person prefers to gather information about the world.

Visual

Prefer seeing the world about them

Auditory

Prefer hearing to understand the world about them

Kinaesthetic

Prefer feelings, which include the touch of someone or something, the pressure and the texture

ENERGY SOURCE

This preference indicates where people direct their energy and attention, where they get energy, and where they do their primary processing.

Extraversion

Prefer action and the 'outer world' of people and things. Direct energy and attention most often and most naturally to the external world

Introversion

Prefer reflection and the 'inner world' of action. Direct energy and attention most naturally and most often to their internal world of facts, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and memories.

GATHERING INFORMATION

This preference indicates the ways of perceiving - noticing, paying attention, taking in information.

Sensing

Prefer to focus on immediate reality, notice events in the order in which they occur, and give information in the same way. They notice what is actual and present - the information taken in by the five senses - sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Intuition

Prefer to be abstract and imaginative rather than practical and are more excited about future possibilities than present realities. They look at the big picture to get an overall impression of what is happening.

MAKING DECISIONS

This preference indicates the ways of judging - prioritising the information, organising it, putting it into categories, and arriving at decisions.

Thinking

Prefer in decision making to use logic, cause-and-effect reasoning, and impersonal analysis to come up with principles that will guide their decisions in most cases.

Feeling

Prefer to make decisions through a process of valuing. Their filter is their personal values and empathy for others, which they use to assess the impact of options on people.

LIFE STYLE

This preference indicates how people prefer to arrange their external lives.

Judging

Prefer their lives to be planned and orderly.

Perceiving

Prefer their external world to be open and flexible.

MOTIVATION LEVEL

This preference indicates motivation style: Does the person take the initiative or wait for others?

Proactive

Acts with little or no consideration. Motivated by doing.

Reactive

Motivated to wait, analyse, consider and react.

DIRECTION

This preference indicates the direction of a person's motivational energy - is it centred on goals or problems?

Toward

These people are motivated to achieve or attain goals. They have trouble recognising problems.

Away From

They focus on what may be and is going wrong. They are motivated to solve problems.

FRAME OF REFERENCE

This preference indicates how a person makes judgements - from external sources or by using their own internal standards?

Internal

They decide and make judgements based on their own internal standards.

External

They need outside feedback to know how well they are doing.

ADAPTING

This preference indicates how a person deals with instructions or getting something done - does the person continually look for alternatives or prefer to follow established procedures?

Options

They are compelled to develop and create procedures and systems. Have difficulty following set procedures.

Procedures

They prefer to follow set ways. They get stumped when they have no procedure to follow

RELATIONSHIP

This preference indicates how a person works with and compares data when faced with new information and how a person reacts to change.

Match

Look for what matches what we already know. They want their world to stay the same. They will provoke change only every 15 to 25 years.

Mismatch

They notice what differs or mis-matches their knowledge. They want change to be constant and drastic. Major change every 1 to 2 years.

CHUNK SIZE

This preference indicates the size of the "chunk" of information that a person prefers when thinking, communicating, learning, etc. How large a picture is the person able to work with?

Specific

Prefers details and sequences. They cannot see the overview.

General

Prefers overview, big picture. Can handle detail for short periods.

ENVIRONMENT

This preference indicates to how a person processes and handles the experience of working with other people. What kind of human environment allows the person to work best in a task-oriented situation?

Independent

Alone with sole responsibility

Proximity

In control of own territory with others around.

Cooperative

Together with others in a team, sharing responsibility.

WORK

This preference indicates how a person orient themselves. Does the person concentrate more things, systems, people or information.

People

Tend to focus on feelings and thoughts. They become the task.

Things

Tend to focus on tasks, systems, ideas, tools. Getting the job done is the most important thing.

TIME LINE

This preference indicates how people experience time

Through Time

Time is linear, continuous and uninterrupted. See events as a series of related episodes. Tend to draw out making decisions

In Time

Caught up in the 'now'. See events as a series of unrelated episodes. Tend to make decisions quickly

TIME FOCUS

This preference indicates where in time people focus

Past

Prefer to focus on the past

Present

Prefer to live in the present moment

Future

Prefer to live in the future

CONVINCER SORT

This preference indicates how a person gets convinced about something - and what type of information does a person need to start the process of getting convinced about something?

See

Need to see evidence

Hear

Need to hear something

Read

Need to read something

Do

Need to do something

CONVINCER MODE

What has to happen to the information or evidence previously gathered to make a person become convinced of something?

No of examples

They need to have the data a certain number of times to be convinced

Automatic

They take a small amount of information and get convinced immediately based on what they extrapolate.

Consistent

They hardly ever change their minds. They are never completely convinced. Every day is a new day and they need to get reconvinced.

Period of Time

They need to gather information for a certain duration before their conviction is triggered.

Acknowledgements: Meta Programs have been developed by a number of key individuals from the NLP community. First discovered by Leslie Cameron Bandler and further developed by Roger Bailey, Ross Stewart, and Wyatt Woodsmall.


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