Meta-Model Challenging

With this pattern, you will practice the fundamental skill that assists with modeling and with ensuring adequate communication. 

Identify meta-model violations when spoken to you. 

As someone speaks to you, listen for meta-model violations such as excessive generalization or deletion, and inappropriate presuppositions. Notice whether you can have good sensory representations of what the person is saying. As you “map over” into sensory representations, you are likely to find that there are missing pieces, that tempt you to “fill in the blanks” by going out of sensory representation or using your imagination. How well can you tell what the person is referring to and what they mean? For more about these meta-model distinctions, refer to the appendices. 

Whenever you hear a meta-model violation, ask about it. 

For example, if two ideas that don’t belong together are treated as if they do (complex equivalence), then ask. “How is it that protesting the war is dividing the country?” Perhaps the person doesn’t know that countries are always divided over issues, and this is the nature of politics throughout history. Perhaps they know that, but fear a military coup will result from it this time around. If the person is irritated or becomes manipulative when you ask meta-model questions (questions that clarify meta-model violations), see if you can find out what the person is attempting to prevent you from knowing or doing. You can start by directly asking why they are getting mad (or whatever their reaction is). Needless to say, this should be a situation in which you are safe and don’t have much to lose by alienating this person. This is just for practice, after all.

Continue until you have a well-formed understanding of what the other person is saying.

Test by expressing your understanding and seeing if the person agrees, or test by seeing if you have a clear understanding of how to respond effectively. To use an obvious example, if the person gave you directions, did you arrive at your destination?

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