Filters in Language

Filters in Language or ‘Meta Programmes’ are among the easiest of the NLP patterns to identify and utilise yet can be among the most powerful in helping us to understand, and potentially change, our everyday experience.


Increasing familiarity with these patterns will enable you to

  •  Recognise why you relate to some people more easily than others
  • Increase your rapport and influence with others through identifying and matching their preferred style
  • Understand why someone’s map of the world seems, at best, ‘odd’ to you
  • Enhance the effectiveness of your proposal and report writing by appealing to all styles.

General guidelines for building your skill in using Filters:

  •  Practice pattern identification initially in non-challenging situations and for limited periods of time so that you can maintain your concentration.
  • Be aware that our own preferences are likely to screen out the opposite pattern so start with identifying your personal patterns first.
  • Most of our filters are context dependent, not statements of our identity.
  • Match the other person’s preferences first before attempting to lead them into alternative patterns. This will build rapport and therefore make any transition much easier and effective.

Origins and Definitions

We are not aware of any conclusive evidence for the origins of Meta Programmes. It is generally reported that Leslie Cameron-Bandler and Richard Bandler proposed the notion. Their insight was that two people using the same internal strategy …. for example, internally constructed pictures that lead to a feeling could have two entirely different results; one having positive feelings, the other negative. Therefore, there had to be some other form of sorting going on outside of conscious awareness (ie ‘meta’ to the apparent strategy).

A wide range of meta programmes has been written up over the last 30 years or so with varying degrees of credibility and potential usefulness. First, here are some definitions of meta programmes:

  • The unconscious, internal processes that we use to determine what we pay attention to and what we ignore.
  • Mental processes that manage, guide and direct other mental processes.

Click here for detailed information on what we consider to be the most easily recognisable and useful patterns.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email