Figuring People Out came out the same year (1997) as Hall and Bodenhamer's book Mind-Lines and suffers all of the same flaws. Some of this review is v...moreFiguring People Out came out the same year (1997) as Hall and Bodenhamer's book Mind-Lines and suffers all of the same flaws. Some of this review is verbatim from my review of Mind-Lines, but it applies.
Figuring People Out is Hall and Bodenhamer's presentation of Metaprograms, the NLP concept that people have an idiosyncratic predilection to sort for certain types of information in certain contexts. When the book came out there was only one, hard-to-find book on the subject (by Leslie Cameron Bandler) and most people had to learn the material entirely from course notes or take a class. Shortly after, Shelle Rose Charvet's Words that Change Minds book and tape set would alter that completely.
But Figuring People Out is the only book to give the Hall & Bodenhamer treatment to Metaprograms. The "Hall & Bodenhamer treatment" of an NLP topic is to reduce it to extremely small pieces (whether that is useful or not), re-organize and rename those pieces so they are recognizably different from how other NLP books teach them, and then claim to have invented something new and powerful.
They also write in "e-prime," a style of writing briefly popular in the 80s human potential movement where passive voice is eliminated. Reading a lot of e-prime can be tiring and it certainly sounds unnatural.
Figuring People Out doesn't suffer from much of the horrible layout and typography that Mind Lines does, fortunately. It is actually usable as a reference book. But it goes even further overboard on the small-chunk detail that isn't either useful or entertaining.
The authors' real interest in the material is in how many metaprograms the can list: how many possible unconscious sortings they can invent. This is a rainy-day game: you can keep going forever, and they have clearly tried. After a short while the reader realizes that they have delved into distinctions that only matter because the authors want them to. It could have been a useful way to teach the reader to detect which distinctions are useful in a given context, rather than rely on a list, but it goes on so long that clearly the authors like making lists.
I like making lists, too. I'm a small-chunk person. Analysis is fabulous. But Hall and Bodenhamer use reductive analysis as a substitute for pedagogy. Combined with their academic style, their self-congratulatory tone, and the circumlocutions of e-prime, it guarantees that Figuring People Out will be useful to no one. (less)
Mind-Lines gives Sleight of Mouth patterns the Hall & Bodenhamer treatment.
Sleight of Mouth patterns are a collection of techniques for a) identi...moreMind-Lines gives Sleight of Mouth patterns the Hall & Bodenhamer treatment.
Sleight of Mouth patterns are a collection of techniques for a) identifying beliefs behind someone's statements (including yours) and b) bringing those beliefs into conscious awareness for scrutiny.
The "Hall & Bodenhamer treatment" of an NLP topic is to reduce it to extremely small pieces (whether that is useful or not), re-organize and rename those pieces so they are recognizably different from how other NLP books teach them, and then claim to have invented something new and powerful.
When Mind-Lines came out, there weren't any good books on Sleight of Mouth, so any more material was very welcome. Hall and Bodenhamer reorganized the well-known (in NLP circles, anyway) Dilts model of reframing into a structure based on internal state and external behavior (two of the three basic elements Dilts, Bandler, and Grinder used to organize early NLP) and try as hard as they can to tie the structure of beliefs to their model of "meta-states" and "neurosemantics."
The problem with this book at the time was, it presented no usable material on its own, requiring an in-depth knowledge of NLP terminology and process as well as a willingness to decode the language they add so they can claim that they invented something. They stay at the level of extremely coded (nominalized, in NLP parlance) phrasing and never create exercises, examples, or recommendations that can be applied in the real world.
In addition, the book is written in the Hall & Bodenhamer style. They adhere to "e-prime," a style of writing briefly popular in the 80s human potential movement where passive voice is eliminated*, they reference only other books by themselves (and they reference them often), and the book is set in small margins with large blocks of text and minimal use of whitespace. In addition, random-seeming words are in bold or italic typeface and everything is presented with breathless descriptions. Nothing is "elegant" if it can be "mighty elegant." Readers are supposed to believe that everything is New, BRILLIANT, and exciting, rather than read the book, learn, and decide for themselves.
The book occasionally also borrows the New Falcon style of having a multitude of having diagrams, even of simple concepts, fantastic (in the sense of fantasy) chapter intro pictures, and large, boldface quotes by other authors (including New Falcon author Robert Anton Wilson) taking up end-chapter whitespace. It is a strange dissonance with the technical nature of the material and the self-congratulatory style of the writing.
On the other hand, the book did fill an essential need in 1997; other than some hard-to-get seminar notes and some articles in not-well-known magazines material on Sleight of Mouth was hard to come by outside of taking a class. Also, the diagrams are generally interesting or useful, and the appendices are not bad (although they, too, invent "new" material just to plug the authors).
Since Dilts released Sleight of Mouth, it has become even harder to overlook the flaws in Mind-Lines. Only pick it up if you're a hard-core collector of NLP books or if you really like Hall & Bodenhamer's material.
Get this book. Go order it; this review will wait.
Now, what did you just spend money on....
Oh, either sign up for one of Charvet's classes (I haven't...moreGet this book. Go order it; this review will wait.
Now, what did you just spend money on....
Oh, either sign up for one of Charvet's classes (I haven't taken any, but I hear very good things) or get her tapes (the book is better than the tapes, but she has a very, very great voice :-)
This book is the best published material on metaprograms and it's organized around Roger Bailey's research that formed the LAB Profile. So, what are metaprograms, what is the LAB Profile, and why do you care? We finally have enough terms out there to review the book :-)
Bailey's LAB Profile (LAB = Language And Behavior) is a series of questions and observations to elicit 13 specific metaprograms from someone. These 13 are chosen to be easy to elicit conversationally (you don't need a white coat and a clipboard, you just ask natural questions) and to have useful application in the business world. By no coincidence whatsoever, they are also invaluable in personal life.
"Metaprogram" is the name NLP uses for common "filters" we all apply in everyday life. The LAB Profile looks specifically for metaprograms that indicate a person's motivation style and working style.
The LAB motivation style questions are easy to ask in an interview or in casual conversation with people and are the sorts of questions you already ask and care about; the LAB training gives you a way to understand and organize the results.
In the LAB profile, you almost always want to pay attention to the structure of their answer instead of the content.
For example, if you know a programmer finds "performance" very important in their code, the question "Why is performance important?" is entirely natural. The LAB profile gives you a way to organize their answer: are they motivating towards something ("Because that means the user can get work done faster") or away from something ("Because otherwise the system slows down and becomes unusable"). This is an example of the kind of "filter" the LAB profile elicits.
Knowing (some subset of) the 6 motivation traits for someone help you speak to them in a way that motivates them. It also lets you understand them when they talk about why they do, did, or want to do something. These are especially useful if someone motivates in a way that is very different from you.
The working traits give you an idea of how someone filters their experience while working. This can help you give someone a task that they will do well (or hire someone who will fit well with a position), it can help you instruct someone to do something in way that appeals to them, and it can help you understand the results someone gets.
An example of a working trait elicitation would be to ask both "What is a good way for you to increase your success at work?" and "What is a good way for someone else to increase their success at work?" The structure of the two answers tells you whose rules they expect someone to follow: - if they have rules for themselves and rules for other people - if they have rules for themselves but don't care about where other people get their rules - if they don't have their own rules for themselves (for example, they follow rules they got from an expert or the company) but they have rules they expect others to follow - if they have rules for themselves and expect other people to have their own rules.
Knowing this helps you understand how that person works in a team, what kind of instruction they need to receive, and what they expect from their coworkers. Knowing the rule structure of two people helps mediate between them and facilitate their working together.
Most of the traits are on a scale. You can motivate a little bit "towards" while motivating mostly "away," in fact, very few people are all the way in one direction on any trait. Also, LAB profile traits are contextual; someone may have a very different motivation style at home with their spouse and kids than they do at the office. Knowing this is especially useful when you work with a personal friend (or become friends with a coworker).
The motivation traits in the book are: - Level (how proactive or reactive they are when they motivate) - Criteria (what qualities are most important to them in the context) - Direction (towards success or away from failure) - Source (are they motivated by internal pressure or by the response they get from other people) - Reason (do they prefer to have a process to follow or do they prefer to have many choices) - Decision Factors (do they tend to see the similarities in things or the differences)
The working traits are: - Scope (do they focus on details and sequence or do they see the big picture and take things in a random order) - Attention Direction (is their attention focused on their inner experience while working or on other people) - Stress Response (when things get very bad, do they instinctively respond with feelings, with thoughts, or do they have vacillate between them) - Style (do they prefer to work alone, on a team of equals, or with others around who are either not directly involved or are under their command) - Organization (in a complex situation, do they focus on the people, the locations, the information or ideas, the activities involved, or the physical and metaphorical things) - Rule Structure (whose rules do they expect to follow and whose rules, if any, do they expect other people to follow) - Convincer (what kind of experience do they need to be convinced of something and how does that experience have to repeat or last to finally convince)
There are other items sometimes added to the LAB profile (for example, temporal traits, about how the person handles time) but the basic (and most important) 13 are covered in the book.
If you do anything with people--lead a team, interview, have a family, or even just walk out your door now and then--this is a good, readable book that you'll get something out of. You don't need to master the whole profile for it to be useful. Just one concept that interests you can make a huge difference in your effectiveness and quality of life.(less)