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How To Use The Meta Model In Communication

Aug 2, 2008
Here are several frames of the Meta Model that can be applied to the particular communication situation you are facing.

First, the Specificity Frame. The Specificity Frame specifically requests for more information in specific details.

Imagine someone rushes up to you and with an agonized look on his face saying, "I am in big trouble!" It would be extremely dangerous for you to assume that he is being chased and attacked by a bunch of gangsters.

If you ask, "What trouble are you in?" He might say, I have got a paper cut." And you will know that it will not be as serious as you thought.

However, to be precise with your communication and to avoid making any assumptions, you might then have to ask, Where specifically had you get the paper cut? This is to ascertain that the cut was not made in dangerous places.

The Counter Example Frame. This frame is meant to tackle generalizations. The moment someone has an ingrained belief that is generalized, creating counter examples actually losses that person's model of the world. Questions under this frame include, Has there ever been a time where you were not X? and Has there ever been a time where you did X but did not get Y?

There was a case where I was having a client interaction in a counseling session, and this person just kept saying he was forgetful, suffering from a bad memory. He made it sound as if it was a disease.

Anyway, I began to realize that every time he said that, he always related something he remembered.

He kept saying things like, "See! I have such a bad memory. I forgot all about my mother's birthday on June 21st. I stopped him and told him, Look! How can you have a bad memory when you can remember you mother's birthday?

He stared blankly at me, and stopped complaining that moment onwards. In fact, his memory began to improve.

Awareness Frame. This frame puts people into a reflective mode by asking, How do you know questions?

They provide us with information on the degree of awareness of the person whom you are speaking to on his knowledge of a particular subject. This, in effect, targets mind reading as well as outcome framing. In mind reading, you might ask, "How do you know she does not like you? In outcome framing, you might ask, "How do you know when you have gotten your outcome?"

Relevance Frame. The Relevance Frame keeps people on track. The basic question is, "How is this relevant to what we have just said?"

There was an interesting interview I conducted when my company started to hire. As the candidate sat down, I asked him, "So, what do you think is your greatest strength?" He spoke confidently, but as he continued to speak, it seemed he was going too far off.

There were comments about how his family believed in his abilities and that once he won an award for being a good student. He continued speaking for at least three minutes before I had to pull him back on track by asking, "So, how are your answers related to my question I just asked you?"

At that point, he asked. "What was your question?" He did not get the job.

Possibility or As If Frame. This frame is useful when dealing with distortion patterns. When someone says, "I am just too fat!" And you asked, "Well, what might happen if you were slim?" You put that person into a frame of possibility.

Backtrack Frame. This frame is useful for pacing.

A Backtrack Frame basically requires you to repeat or summarize certain things that were said earlier by a communication partner. So, if he said, "I think I am feeling depressed because people are not friendly.

The Backtrack Frame allows you to pace an established empathy by saying, "When you say you are feeling depressed because people are not friendly, how should they behave instead?"

Agreement Frame. The Agreement Frame helps in rapport building.

It is a great frame to be in when you want to summarize your understanding. Based on what I heard, "Am I right to say that he wanted to feel happy? I use this frame all the time to get students and kids in my training to get really excited about training.

"Those of you who think that studying is boring say, Yes!" and they all scream, "Yes!" Those of you who get bored when you have to study say, "Yes!" and they all yell, "Yes!" Those of you who think studying is a waste of time say "Yes!" So, do you want to study? "No! "So, do you want to have fun?""Yes"!

So, then let us play a game! And all of the sudden when I am done with them, I have built rapport so well that all agree to the activities I dish out to them.

In most cases, the Meta Model is used therapeutically to challenge and eliminate negative patterns of thinking.

However, the Meta Model is really more than just that. It is about being able to bring to the surface what we really mean in order to understand how each of us is thinking, what we are saying and what we are feeling inside.
About the Author
Adam Khoo is an entrepreneur, best-selling author and a self-made millionaire by the age of 26. Discover his million dollar secrets and claim your FREE bonus report 'Ultimate Success Formula' at Patterns Of Excellence.
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