How many of us have had to go through personality tests or profiling as part of applying for a new job or for some sort of team building exercise? Type ‘personality profile’ into Bing and you get over 21,000 results and into Google almost 30,000 results. These websites offer an array of measures, profiles, indices, types, patterns and formulas to describe your personality after you have answered, what often seems to be a never-ending stream of, tick box questions.
Can any paper test really replace getting to know somebody? Answers you give in such tests are dependent on a variety of factors including both context and culture – they can be dependent on the level of stress you’re experiencing at that moment and they may change over time. I know many tests claim that they include checks, so you can’t manipulate the outcome, but is that really true? I’ll admit that I’ve certainly consciously geared my answers in such tests to what I think my prospective employer is looking for, and I am quite sure that if I wasn’t doing it consciously my unconscious would also take the same route – when you really want the job how can you not be biased in your answers?
Of course the aim of these tests is to get an indication of a person’s model of the world, how they think and therefore predict how they will behave in certain situations. That may be useful to you as an interviewer assessing job fit/suitability of applicants, or a manager looking to encourage and inspire your team, or a wife who wants to better understand a husband or anyone else close to you at work or at home, or a trainer who wants to connect more effectively with your students.
So what other tools or techniques could you use? Well there is an easy, flexible and incredibly informative NLP tool that fits the bill (you never guessed I was going to say that did you?!) – Meta Programs. Meta Programs are powerful determinants of our personality and are unconscious filters that determine how we perceive the world. In a similar way to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that many of you will have come across, they also originate from the work of Carl Jung, but the main difference is that NLP Meta Programs also consider how a person stores time, which in turn determines whether people adapt to change easily or not.
To find out someone’s Meta Programs you can ask them a set of simple questions – you could call them the conversational personality profiling tool if you wish. By talking through the questions – be it one of them, a specific selection or all of them – by phone or face to face, you have the opportunity not only to get the answer to the question, but to also immediately delve further into the answers given and their meaning – unlike a tick box paper or online test. And you don’t have to be doing a formal profile – these questions can be dropped into normal conversation if you’re interested in a particular answer. For example, is your potential customer interested in the big picture in your proposal, the details, or a combination of both?
The answers a person provides to the Meta Programs questions will describe certain behavioral patterns and give you a suggestion of how someone is likely to approach or respond to a situation. For example – how they adapt or not to their environment, whether rewards motivate them more than punishments, whether they crave change and differences in their environment or prefer sameness and stability, whether they are motivated by possibilities or the necessity of “ I have to” and how people judge their results. They can show us how someone becomes confident something is true and what it takes to convince them, it can show if they are strongest working alone or need to be part of a team, whether they are likely to manage others well and how they pay attention to others, it will predict the energy they will put into achieving their goals and how they will respond to stressful situations. Their answers will provide you with specific words to motivate that person, whether they like to come at things from the big picture or the details and how they will deal with problems by internalizing them or by talking to others.
So what are these question I can hear you ask. Well I’ll be coming back to various Meta Programs in future posts. For now ask yourself this – what was the last thing that you said to yourself before you got out of bed this morning? Perhaps those specific words can provide undeniable motivation for you to do something…..? Could that be useful?
© Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.