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The influential power of meta-programs

How to use meta-programs to increase your influence

Posted by: Team Tony

Meta-programs are powerful mental processes that help people manage, guide and direct their experiences. They help us decide what to pay attention to and we distort, delete, and generalize the rest. After all, the conscious mind can only pay attention to so many moving parts at any given time.

Describe the relationship between the figures in the image below. What are you focused on size, shape, placement, similarities or differences? There are as many observations as there are people to ask, but why do people have such different answers?

Because of our unique meta-programs.

Look at the image below. What do you see?

Meta-programs image

Are you a matcher or mismatcher?

If you saw the similarities, you view the world through the lens of a matcher. If you saw differences, you view it through the lens of a mismatcher. These processing styles (aka meta-programs) effectively determine how well different parties will agree or disagree in different situations— depending if they are viewing the world through the same lens or not.


Some people respond to situations by noticing what’s alike, what belongs and what is shared in common. When matchers look at the image they might say, “Well, they’re all rectangles.”


Other people focus on the differences and there are actually two distinct types; one type of mismatcher primarily notices differences, while the second type notices differences first but then includes what they share in common.

In terms of leadership and influence, understanding how different communicative styles interact on a team, in an organization, or even in public, can be the difference between constant conflict and maintaining harmony.

A person with a matcher response type is often optimistic, approving and tends to find similarities and common ground while interacting with others. In order to influence, motivate and build rapport with a matching personality, you’ll be more successful reflecting their experiences, beliefs, values and perceptions. Creating a sense of likeness will help you to develop a healthy emotional bond and greater levels of trust.

People who understand the world through mismatching are often more individualistic and may go against the grain. They tend to first differences in situations, experiences and others, which can make them difficult to manage on a team, but extremely valuable to drive innovation and growth. In order to create positive influence and build rapport with this person you will need to understand the purpose of their questioning focus and how it can actually serve your greater vision by providing balance and stretching the group to new limits & visions

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