Deletions (Meta-Model)

Deletions happen when the speaker leaves something out. When a person is being too vague or manipulative, deletion may be the culprit. If someone says, “What a lousy day,” you could ask, “What lousy about it?” If she says she has lice, you now know she really DID mean it was a lousy day, since that’s how the word “lousy” got its start. Unless you need to know where she got the lice, that’s probably more information than you really needed to know. 

Simple deletions are those where information is simply left out. You can’t talk for long without making numerous simple deletions. After all, if you included all the details, it would take a long time and you’d get a reputation as a crashing bore; so deletions are a necessary part of everyday speech. 

Unspecified nouns and verbs are deletions that leave you wondering what thing or action the person is talking about. If a powerful local criminal says, “I’d hate to see what happens to your family, if you don’t pay us to take care of your nice restaurant in our part of town,” you’d say, “How much do I pay and to whom do I write the check? Oh, I mean, do you take unmarked bills?” Maybe that wasn’t such a good example. How about if someone tells your friend, “I was driving and here I am with this bad head wound.” While she’s taking her friend to the hospital, she might say, “But, What happened?” 

Maybe it wasn’t a car accident. Was he attacked? Was he being vague because he’s hiding something, or is he being vague because the head injury affected his brain? If so, then we could say that the deep structure is the injury itself. Let’s hope it isn’t TOO deep. But seriously, it is important to remember that deep structure includes everything from manipulation to psychological defenses to pure physiology. 

Let’s try one more, a nice plain one. Your employee says, “We’ll be a little late delivering to the buyer this month.” 

You might ask, “How late, exactly?” 

With the information you need, you’ll know whether it’s an emergency, and how to handle the buyer. Otherwise, you could really be blind-sided. Employers and other leaders often get a watered-down version of bad news from their staffs. That is a good time to trot out your meta-model questions.