The Value Of The Right Questions
The Meta Model is a tool from NLP that provides us with a way to quickly get to someone’s issues and clear things up.
Through specific types of questions (not all questions are created equal), it helps uncover the specific mental processes that are driving behaviors and feelings. My hypno/NLP buddy Skip shared with us how he used the meta model and some other questions/techniques recently.
In later articles, we’ll explore more about the specifics of the meta model and how to use it. For now, feel free to read through this article and think about which questions Skip asks lead to uncovering the mental processes that help both uncover the true nature of the problem and help woman feeling more resourceful.
The Value Of The Right Questions
By Skip O’Neil
I was speaking with a mother just the other day; it went a little something like this:
“Had a tough day?” I asked.
“Tough doesn’t start to describe it, my daughter again; yelling, cussing, calling me bad names and insisting that I’ve ruined her life.”
“How does that make you feel?”
“Like crap. If any one’s life is being ruined, it’s mine. I feel bad. I love her, but there really are days I wish she hadn’t been born.” She was beginning to cry, a mixture of guilt, grief, and frustration.
“How is the fact that you feel bad for loving her ruining your life?” I asked.
She broke state, thought and responded, “I don’t feel bad for loving her. It’s not the love that’s ruining my life, it’s her behavior.”
“And, how specifically is her behavior ruining your life?” I enquired.
Dabbing a tear from the side of her eye, she looked up, “Chaos, she creates chaos. My husband and I fight over her behavior; in fact it’s about the only thing we fight about. She’s nasty to her younger brother; she threatens my husband, (step-dad), and me. She’s defiant in everything she does. But, I think it’s the way she talks to me that gets to me most. She pushes buttons constantly.”
“Button pushing, not fun to deal with is it? She nods in agreement. “What is it about the button pushing that gets to you?”
Touching her chest, “It hurts…” she trails off and lowers her head with tears beginning to drip into her lap.
“Hurts how?” I press…
“The way I respond to her with hate and anger,” she weeps.
I see an opening and pursue, “How would you like to respond to her?”
“With caring and compassion, yet be able to stand up to her, to find a way to make her stop.”
“Tell me, what would you see and feel if you could respond this way, what would her responses be like? Take a moment while you breathe and relax, allow yourself to step into the situation, only this time you’re in control.” She closes her eyes, “Good, your conscious mind may not be aware of your interaction with your daughter, but you can feel yourself in control.” Mother’s hand touches her chest where earlier she indicated pain. “That’s right there notice the response you want from her.”
We sit quiet for a bit, she calms down and with glassy eyes comments, “That feels better, I wish I new how to have the control to do this.”
I ask, “The last few moments we spoke here, who was in control, me or you?”
“You,” she calmly says.
“How, I never told you to do anything, did I?”
“No,” she thinks…“You asked me questions!”
“Exactly, what does asking questions do?”
She thinks, “It makes you stop and think, you have to find an answer, it kind of puts you on the defensive…doesn’t it?”
I smile, “Hey, who’s asking the questions here?”
We talked about the power of questions, the best types of questions to use, and how the questions should be phrased in such a way as to turn the speaker back inside themselves while meeting the least amount of resistance possible.
I asked her if she had ever heard of the Meta-model and how she would feel about learning to use it. She was excited, having just witnessed it, she wholeheartedly agreed to a crash course. Over the next several appointments we talked and role played with the Meta-model, I make a mean teenage girl. Many times she took on the role of her own daughter while I meta-modeled, she learned a lot about the inner workings of her child and I learned a lot about new ways to help those with whom I coach.
When we think about it, NLP practitioners possess very powerful tools, yet how often do we give those tools to our clients? It’s reminiscent of the old adage about teaching someone to grow food versus giving them food for a day. Could I continue seeing this caring mother and patching up her feelings? Of course I could, but why not teach and empower her to stand on her own?
The next time you see a client or work with someone, give some thought to ways in which you can help them. Is there something you can teach them? Is there a tool you can give them? Offer them the sword and teach them to cut their own bonds.
Skip O’Neil is an NLP and hypnosis trainer, as well as a teacher and coach.
Nicely done. When you were in the process of establishing rapor with her were mirroring techniques used? What did she want the outcome to be, (a) to control the situation or (b) to control her daughter? I ask this because as she learned how to use the tools you gave her did she gain the ability to understand her daughter in a whole new way.
I’ll forward your questions to Skip, who wrote the article.
Thanks for the questions.
Having been someone I’ve worked with, rapport was pretty much a given from the outset. I do mirror and match until I’m leading; at that point I worry more about processes and let the rapport work itself. When it comes to rapport, I pretty much presume it to be present, if something tells me different I’ll work at reestablishing it.
As for her outcome, it would have been for the mother to control herself and her own emotions. Truthfully, I’m not sure we can really “control” others. We can help them to see better alternatives and that’s what the meta-model does so well. Through the questioning of beliefs and ill formed models the one being meta-modeled begins to find the weaknesses in their belief structures. They then are free to find alternatives.
Monty, I hope this answered your questions. Thanks again….Skip
I always felt that NLP could bring changes in a life, but I never took the time to study the subject, until yesterday. I watched a few videos explaining NLP. It reminded me of conditioned stimuli, which I successfully use for years. I found it very interesting reading your post here. Asking the right questions “yourself” and others!
You are entirely right; NLP can make powerful and positive changes in your life. I find myself using it almost daily with myself and others. I personally think the Meta-model is one of the most neglected of the NLP tools. Time permitting I hope to be offering some more ideas in the not to distant future. Have you thought about enrolling in an NLP training program?
Yes, very nice. I have used Meta-model some (not enough!), but it has never occurred to me to TEACH it to a client. Now — How, SPECIFICALLY, am I going to do that? LOL