Forum Message

Topic: Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder
Posted by: hellstorm
Date/Time: 02/11/2002 09:26:54

NLP Modeling with Meta-States

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

Response to Whisperings (#4)

A Meta-Response
Responding to Mr. Grinder’s Response
to My Response

A Healthy Dialogue for a Growing Field

The health of any field, movement, and community depends upon healthy, direct, respectful, and professional dialogue.  Upon reading Whispering in the Wind by Grinder and Bostic, I read of their repeated requests for me to respond to several things.  So I did.

“A special flexibility challenge to M. Hall—write an article (even a paragraph that does not use the term meta— smile, Michael.”  (Whispering, p. 309)

We invite M. Hall to make explicit the answer to the simple meta model challenge, Meta states are states about other states... about, how specifically? (p. 288)

I submitted my first response which is on our website, and then followed it up with two additional short pieces attempting to answer their queries.  Now John and Carmen have published “A response to M. Hall’s article” which they have entitled “Different worlds: An Answer to John Grinder #1.”

What I find fascinating in this response is that they both present and manifest a tired and bored attitude about the discussion which they invited in the first place.   Quite a meta-state if I say so myself!  Somehow it doesn’t fit with the spirit of curiosity, learning, creativity, and openness that comprises The Spirit of NLP as I described in the book by that title.  John and Carmen write the following (well, I assume it is John and Carmen, that’s not always clear in their writings):

“I find myself in the somewhat awkward position of responding to the work and writings of a person— Michael Hall— that have nearly no intrinsic interest to me.

“I have no interest in pursuing additional conversations with Mr. Hall (I am wary of his use of #1 in the title of his article, Response to John Grinder #1) as I am presently of the opinion that NLP (in all its aspects) has a minimum overlap with Neuro-Semantics.”

Hmmm.   Isn’t it interesting how many people are ready to pontificate about Neuro-Semantics without reading the works in this field?  I wonder why that is?   By way of contrast, it seems that those who do read into the field of Neuro-Semantics typically come to a different conclusion.  They are the ones who conclude that Meta-States is the next step in NLP and provides an over-arching model that can integrate the field of NLP into a systemic model.  Actually, there have now been literally hundreds of NLP trainers who have been to the trainings have repeatedly said this from Robert Dilts to Richard Bolstad to hundreds of other top men and women in this field.

I did enjoy some of the meta-state (state-upon-state structures) that John and Carmen present in their response.  For example, when John or Carmen wrote,   “... his above rendition is (so far beyond) (my willingness) (to imagine)...”   Ah yes, the wonderful thing about meta-states is that they are everywhere!  And that’s why John the “proliferation of meta-states” are everywhere whether we like it or not.  As a semantic and meta-class of life, we inevitably live at those levels.

Explicit Mapping

John and Carmen say that they want from me “an explicit mapping” of the terms I use.  Well, I hate to break the news now, but I have already done that.  I did it first in 1995 with the first publication of Meta-States.   And, not to surprise Mr. Grinder with this new development, I sent a complementary copy of that book many years ago.  I did it as a professional gesture.  Well perhaps it was lost in the mail.   That’s why I sent yet another complementary book (Meta-States, 2000) to him (and Carmen) in July of this year.  That books sets forth an explicit mapping of the terms, the model, the foundation, and the epistemology of Meta-States.

And not to be stingy, I also sent Secrets of Personal Mastery (1999) and Frame Games (2000).  The second edition of Meta-States locates Meta-States as a model in the field of NLP and makes explicit the nature of the model.  Actually, I have been doing this over the years.   Yet for all of that, I cannot tell in Whispering that he or Carman had actually read any of the books.  I wonder why.

Modeling or Application or Both?

In their current response, John and Carmen invite me to specific whether I’m dealing with NLP Modeling or NLP Application (as if it couldn’t be both).

My answer is this.  Meta-States is a model about modeling, about mapping the structure of experience (and excellence) which takes into account reflexivity (self-reflexive consciousness) and “the higher levels of mind” (Bateson’s term) using “the levels of abstraction” (Korzybski) and the latest insights from the field of Meta-Cognition.  So, Meta-States is a model and a tool for modeling as I presented it in full detail in the book, Meta-States (2000).

Is the model useful or productive?  Well, if the old proverb is true that “by their fruits you shall know them” then Meta-States has proved exceptionally productive.  

Using Meta-States as a model, I began by specifying the structure of such complex states of excellence such as Resilience, Proactivity, Magnanimity, Self-Esteeming, etc.  Since then, I have along with several colleagues, created models for wealth building, fitness, mastering fears, women in leadership, accelerated learning, accessing personal mastery, selling, etc.  In Neuro-Semantics, we have created more than 130 new patterns, 3 major models, and multiple trainings that thousands of people around the world have found useful in “running their own brain.”

My associate, Dr. Bob Bodenhamer, has been using Meta-States in his client work with people and has tracked the response time for numerous therapeutic issues.  With NLP he was able to reduce the time for interventions to an amazing degree, then with Meta-States, he divided that time to almost half.  You can see his detailed table of consultations on our web site.  Our recent work with people who stutter (PWS) has lead to some remarkable results.  Bob is currently preparing a training in this area and writing a book detailing the processes.  This obviously combines Modeling with Application.

Reasons for Expanding the Meta-Model

In their recent response about Different Worlds, John and Carmen took the old Training Manual, Advanced Flexibility which I sent them and quoted that as reflecting my thinking on the additions to the Meta-Model.  Apparently they have not even looked at Communication Magic (2001) which was the actual book on that subject.  With John and Carmen’s desire to reduce the Meta-Model to “the minimum number of distinctions,” to just two (the noun specifier and the verb specifier), I suppose that’s why they felt free to offer the following mind-reading statement of myself:

“Hall is being quite disingenuous here as the material quoted comes from a section in Whispering which also contains specific comments that would resolve his contradiction: namely,”

I proposed in Communication Magic (previously entitled, Secrets of Magic, 1997) that we should add the linguistic distinction of Either-Or to the Meta-Model.  Why?  Why is that important?  Mostly, because most things are not mapped accurately using Either-Or formations.  Most things are mapped more accurately and explicitly using Both-And and other Systemic formulations.  Here is a quote from John and Carmen’s response that could really use this meta-model challenge.

“Is Hall seriously proposing that all the modeling of excellence and the ensuing explicated  patterns of excellence that Bandler and I coded in creating NLP were somehow already in Korzybski's work? Korzybski coded a powerful perception - the map-territory distinction. Congratulations and full stop!”

Hmmmm, first it is news to me that I ever thought that “all of the modeling...” Bandler and Grinder did was already in Korzybski.  I have always contended that some of it was and is encoded in Korzybski.  But never all.   Yet, if it does happen that some of it was encoded by Korzybski, does that suggest we should make a “full stop”?  That sounds like Either-Or thinking.  Either Korzybski encoded nothing or all.  And if all then we might as well give up completely.  Either-or thinking leads to that kind of reasoning.  Systemic thinking would enable us to recognize that Korzybski both encoded some of what we have in NLP and that we can learn much more beyond Korzybski.  I wonder if John is open to the idea that Korzybski could offer new insights to the Meta-Model, to NLP Modeling, to developing advanced flexibility, and much more?

Reductionism or Synthesis

I think Mr. Grinder is accurate about my focus as a modeler versus his.  He has made it clear that he aims to reduce things and to obtain the fewer distinctions as possible.

“Rather than expand a model already proven effective in securing some outcome, X, the task of a modeler is to attempt to reduce the model consistent with achieving X - that is, to demonstrate that X can be achieved with fewer distinctions or more efficiently.”

I agree; my focus does differ.  While I’m interested in the scientific attitude of reducing an experience to “the bare bones” structure, I am also interested in making locating an experience of excellence in its full system so as to understand its emergent properties.  In that we do differ.

Mr. Grinder opened his response by saying that he had the impression that we are working “in entirely different fields with profoundly different criteria for presentation, argumentation, and evidence, and with significantly different purposes.”  Perhaps he’s right.  Our focus in Neuro- Semantics is on “running your own brain” and modeling excellence in health, business, relationships, resilience, and so on.  This means developing “the conscious mind” or mindfulness.

By way of contrast, John Grinder seems to focus on kinesthetically based expertise: rock climbing, drumming, dancing, piloting, healing, acting, pistol shooting, and fire walking.  This undoubtedly explains his desire to eliminate the conscious mind’s influence and to use second position for the unconscious uptake stage of modeling.   A friend of mine wondered if such modeling could ever deal with the issues in business, economics, politics, communication, etc.  These experiences are not so kinesthetically-based.  Perhaps that’s why we are having so much interest in the models that we’ve developed in Neuro-Semantics regarding these subjects.


It’s always good when those within a community engage in a healthy dialogue that’s open-minded and respectful about the model that they use and are developing.  For that I’m delighted that Grinder and Bostic decided to engage myself and Robert Dilts in their book.  Yet to begin a dialogue and to immediate tire of it seems a strange thing.

It’s good fun also to be able to explore different perspectives and to put them before the larger NLP and NS community.  After all, it is in doing so that we continually refine our maps and mapping and develop ever-richer and fuller maps for making a difference in the world and for enjoying a fuller experience.  So as John and Carmen say, “Smile John!”


L. Michael Hall, Ph.D., cognitive psychologist, international NLP trainer, entrepreneur; prolific author and international training; developer of Meta-States and co-developer of Neuro-Semantics. (P.O. Box 8, Clifton CO 81520), (970) 523-7877.

Entire Thread

TopicDate PostedPosted By
Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder02/11/2002 09:26:54hellstorm
     Re:Meta?02/11/2002 11:18:27Thomas
          Re:Re:Meta?02/11/2002 23:42:09Robert
     ReReReRe:Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder06/11/2002 13:22:25MCH
          Re:ReReReRe:Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder06/11/2002 14:16:52MCH
               Re:Re:ReReReRe:Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder06/11/2002 14:27:05JimR
                    Re:Re:Re:ReReReRe:Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder06/11/2002 14:53:10Web Master
     Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder06/11/2002 14:54:06MCH
          Re:Meta-Dialogue to Mr. Grinder06/12/2002 10:11:18jurek
     Sensory Acuity.07/12/2002 09:55:38Zaphod
           TOO MANY WORDS AND TRANSLATOR'S PROBLEMS09/12/2002 13:50:34jurek
               Re: TOO MANY WORDS AND TRANSLATOR'S PROBLEMS09/12/2002 16:26:51John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St, Clair
                    Re:Re: TOO MANY WORDS AND TRANSLATOR'S PROBLEMS10/12/2002 00:05:45Michael Carroll

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