NLP Meta Model and Milton Model EXPLAINED

NLP Meta Model and Milton Model EXPLAINED!

My goal in this article is to teach you all about the hypnotic language patterns of the NLP Meta Model and Milton Model with very simple, clear explanations and examples!

The NLP Meta Model and Milton Model are powerful language patterns
The NLP Meta Model and Milton Model are powerful language patterns

The Milton and Meta Models are two Neuro-Linguistic Programming communication models that could almost be considered as the opposites of each other.

Knowing how to utilize these language patterns can make all the difference when trying to motivate, persuade and influence others and is one of the best NLP techniques to use on someone covertly.

These language patterns can also help you evaluate the things you say to yourself & cut through the BS to realize that words really do have power and you can sometimes create a prison of your own making when you use them incorrectly.

You're about to find out just how true this is!
You’re about to find out just how true this is!


What is NLP?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP as it is more commonly known, is a psychological approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy which was created by John Grinder and Richard Bandler in the 1970s. Click HERE for a full explanation!

It is heavily focused on our modalities (the way we see, hear and feel the world) and by tweaking the submodalities (particular qualities of audio, visual and kinesthetic internal experiences) change the way we feel about anything in our life.

NLP is like a psychology/hypnosis hybrid!
NLP is like a psychology/hypnosis hybrid!


What is the NLP Meta Model?

Metal Model language in NLP is basically just giving very, very specific details so there is very little the listener has to work out for themselves from the information.

Here are some Meta model examples using this type of NLP Language pattern:

Situation 1: A young student has an upcoming exam and the teacher is informing her using super detailed Meta Model NLP language…

Teacher: “If you study for 4 hours every day, memorize chapters 3 to 6 of the textbook you are holding and if, during the exam, you are capable of recalling the information and writing down the answers with the same words used in the book from those chapters then you will receive a mark over 60% which will result in you passing the exam.”

*As you can see these kinds of directions using Meta Model patterns don’t leave much room for doubt and are great at taking the guesswork out of what exactly is required of you.

The Meta Model focuses on the specific details
The Meta Model focuses on the specific details


Situation 2: A young student has an upcoming exam but THIS TIME the teacher has just announced that there is a history exam on Thursday and hasn’t given any more details. It’s all a bit vague so the young student therefore decides to use a Meta Model questioning technique to get to the most important facts…

Student: “Excuse me sir, what exactly is required of me to pass this History exam on Thursday?”

Teacher: “Look, if you study hard you will pass the exam.”

Student: “What do I have to study exactly

Teacher: “Specifically, chapters 3 to 6 of the textbook you’re holding.”

Student: “And what does studying “hard” entail exactly?”

Teacher: “Are you serious? What do you think it means?

Student: “I have my own opinion sir but since it’s such such a subjective term I’d love to know what you consider it to be so I can study THAT hard.”

Teacher: “Well, you’re right it is subjective. Ok then, in my opinion studying hard for this exam would entail 4 hours every day until the exam. This would involve reading Chapters 3 to 6 thoroughly and taking notes so you can memorize the information there and do this without any distractions.”

Student: “Perfect, now I understand much better. Could you also tell me what the requirements are for passing the exam?

Teacher: “Ok, but this is the last question because I’ve got to have lunch. If you manage to remember enough of what you studied to get a mark over 60% in the exam then you will pass it.”

Student: “Thank you so much for your time sir, I will do exactly as you described and, as you say, I will pass the exam.”

Teacher: “Exactly.”

See what a difference this line of questioning makes!!! Just by asking Meta Model questions the student has managed to find out the specific details and won’t be wasting their time scrolling the internet, searching through old notes or looking at chapter 1, 2, 7 and 8 of their textbook. They’ve just saved themselves a great deal of time and given themselves a much better chance at passing the exam.

The Meta Model questioning technique is amazing!
“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.”W. Edwards Deming

On the other hand, we give the name “Meta-Model violations” to sentences that lack information or meaning, or that recount experiences from a generalized or distorted perspective. An example is when you’re telling someone about your experience of High School.

You say it was a nightmare of endless bullying and therefore hated it!

Your whole experience from 6 years of going to High School is firmly focused on some events which, when objectively analysed with the Meta Model, only made up a small percentage of your time there.

Meta Model violations shape your memories
“Where focus goes, energy flows” – Tony Robbins

This is why it’s important to know how to use the Meta Model properly in order to give some true perspective to situations like this. Read on to find out how you can do exactly that…


How to use the NLP Meta Model

In the situation with the teacher and the student above you’ve seen how using a very specific line of meta model questioning can save you lots of time by really pinpointing what the most important tasks are for the task to be achieved with maximum productivity.

However, the NLP Meta Model is also good when someone (even yourself) is using language which is unproductive &/or negative.

It’s a good way to make the person see that the situation isn’t as bad as they think in reality and perhaps they are really just making a mountain out of a mole hill (this is almost always the case).

The Meta Model gives perspective
“Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand” – Carrie Underwood

It’s all about analyzing the words used in statements to get to the truth of the matter like in the example conversation between two friends below…

Rachel: “What’s up Eve? You look upset.”

Eve: “I am. I never have any luck!”

Rachel: “You NEVER have any luck? Are you sure about that?”

Eve: “Well, I know you’re thinking about the time I won that money in the lottery so obviously NEVER was a bad word to use. Let’s just say I’ve had some bad luck lately.”

Rachel: “When you say LATELY, how long are we talking about?”

Eve: “Mmmmm…. The last 2 weeks.”

Rachel: “What unlucky thing happened 2 weeks ago?”

Eve: “Well… I can’t remember. I guess it’s only this week, well, the last 2 days if I’m going to be honest because yesterday I missed the bus and arrived late for work remember.”

Rachel: “Yeah I remember you telling me. Ok, so for the last 2 days you’ve had SOME bad luck. How much is SOME exactly?”

Eve: “Hmmm, well the bus yesterday and today I lost my house keys!”

Rachel: “Ok, so you’ve had bad luck twice in the last two days then. It’s not so much bad luck after all right?”

Eve: “No, I suppose not. It sometimes feels a lot more exaggerated than the reality I guess.”

*As you can see here we all have a habit of blowing things out of proportion in our minds and with a good line of Meta Model language questioning you can really get to the truth of the matter without the emotional exaggeration which makes it feel a lot worse than it actually is.

The Meta Model helps get to the truth of the matter
The Meta Model helps get to the truth of the matter

I highly recommend doing the following Meta Model Exercise for yourself EVERY DAY:
Whenever you catch yourself saying or thinking some unproductive &/or negative thing, analyse it with the Meta Model just like Rachel did with Eve above and see that the reality is really a lot simpler than you think.


What is the Milton Model?

The NLP Milton Model process could also be considered as “the art of the being vague!

It’s basically just using words that are purposely vague which mean a lot of the specifics have to be filled in by the person who is listening.

The Milton Model uses vague language
The Milton Model uses vague language like this

The following example is one of the applications of the Milton Model in life using this type of NLP Language pattern:

Situation 1: A young student has an upcoming exam and the teacher is informing her of how she can pass it…

Teacher: “If you study hard you will pass the exam.”

Student: “Ok, I will!” … THINKING TO THEMSELVES: Yeah I know what the teacher says is true. Everyone always says that if you work hard enough you can achieve things. Working hard in this case means studying for at least 2 hours a day I reckon. Studying means reading my textbook, researching on the internet and going over my old notes from class. And “hard” means with no distractions, just fully focusing on doing these tasks.

As you can see there are a lot of blanks that have to be filled in and for another student studying hard might mean 6 hours a day while for another it could mean 1 hour!

In the same way the concept of what “hard” actually entails and what studying actually involves can also vary a lot from one person to the next… It’s all very subjective!

The Milton Model is very open to subjectivity
“The focus of subjectivity is a distorting mirror.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer

We are not used to questioning these statements so we can waste a lot of time trying to achieve goals without understanding the most effective, direct way of getting there.

However, there are some great ways the Milton Model can be extremely helpful in conveying captivating messages as you will find out for yourself below…


How to use the Milton Model

If you’ve been reading carefully up to now you already know how to use the Meta Model language to your advantage but the question remains… “How can I use Milton Model NLP Language to my advantage?”

A lot of advertisers use Milton Model language (named after the famous American psychiatrist Milton Erickson) to entrance audiences and get them believing that such and such a product will fulfill their wildest dreams.

This is because they leave out the details! You can imagine why this language model is a favourite of politicians right! Haha.

Politicians love using the Milton Model
Politicians love using the Milton Model

By doing this they leave it up to the mind of the person receiving the message to fill in the blanks with whatever is most appealing to them.

It’s the KEY to why Mcdonalds are the most popular fast food restaurant in the history of the world.

Do they make the best burgers? NO.

Do they have the best service? NO.

Then what the hell are they selling us on? The answer is HAPPINESS!

They make us believe that by buying their burgers we will suddenly become happy.

They even call their meals “Happy meals” for crying out loud!

McDonalds are Milton Model masters
McDonalds are Milton Model MASTERS

There is a very famous Milton Model Mcdonalds advertising slogan which says:

“I’m lovin’ it”

WHO is “I” in this statement? Is it me or the person who wrote the slogan?

WHAT constitutes “lovin” in this statement? Is it like when you say “I love beer” or is it deeper like when you say to your spouse “I love you“?

WHAT exactly is “it”? This is a pronoun which means something which is neither female or male but could mean so many other things: An animal? A plate? An alien? A sport? An action?”

As you can see there are A LOT of blanks that you need to fill here but by putting their big M Logo in the background you instantly associate all the answers with McDonalds.

Subliminal and very powerful stuff!

Can you guess the Milton Model appeal of using a clown as their mascot
Can you guess the Milton Model appeal of using a clown as their mascot?

In the same way Mcdonalds have sold their products with this technique you can also have people follow you and want what you’re offering by using the same language.

You could say… “This product will make all your dreams come true!” And if the person wants to believe it enough they will then create a story in their mind which makes sense to them in connecting whatever their dreams look like to this product and the power it has to make them a reality.

I know it sounds crazy but it’s true!

Just ask a middle-aged rich guy driving a red ferrari how he was sold on the idea that buying that car would magically bring him beautiful girls.

I’m not saying it wouldn’t either… The human mind is so powerful that if he really believed it and wanted it badly enough he probably would have found a way to get girls through having the car.

Perhaps he went to motor shows with it or ferrari fan clubs where beautiful women attended, who knows?

The Milton Model encourages daydreaming
The Milton Model encourages day-dreaming

It’s also great for motivating people to achieve their dreams &/or feel better about themselves (this itself is a Milton Model statement!).

If you tell a person who is feeling down “Hey, don’t worry, everything is going to get better for you very soon… I know it!” and you state this with real conviction then the other person will feel that what you’re saying is true and might even feel better just because of it.

However, if he started analysing it with Meta model language and asking questions like “How long is soon? How do you “know” it?” etc then this effect could wear off pretty quickly.

For this very reason a lot of us don’t question positive Milton Model statements, because we don’t want to break the magic it has on us.

Plus, if we give these statements the chance to have at the very least a placebo effect on us then we can actually make the statement true by finding means within ourselves to fulfill it.

The Milton Model can give you belief
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning” – Mahatma Gandhi

If, however, they are negative Milton Model statements like Eve was making in the conversation earlier in this article with her friend Rachel then it’s time to bring out the Meta Model Language guns and fire holes in it!


Meta Model VS Milton Model

In a nutshell, the Meta Model and Milton Model are just two language patterns that NLP uses to either be crystal clear and leave very little room for misinterpretation or to be vague and leave out the specifics so the listener has to fill the blanks and give their own meaning to the statement.

In case you still aren’t sure which is which…

The Meta Model tries to spell things out as clearly as possible

Eg: “Pick up that black controller and press the red button at the top left corner of it while pointing the controller at the red dot on the bottom left hand corner of the television.”


The Milton Model leaves out the specific details

Eg: “Turn on the television.”

They both have their uses in different situations.

The Meta Model gives specifics while the Milton Model leaves a lot to the imagination
The Meta Model gives specifics while the Milton Model leaves a lot to the imagination

I especially like using the Meta Model to unravel the negative exaggerations we tell ourselves about how difficult or horrible a situation is.

This way you can see that in reality it’s not such a hopeless situation.

It’s also a great time-saver when you’re looking to reach an objective and are trying to find the quickest way there.

Through a good line of meta model questioning you can see which work will reap the most reward.

On the other hand, I favour the Milton Model when trying to motivate others.

I can’t read their mind and I don’t know what their deepest hopes and dreams are so by using the vague language of the Milton Model the listener can then attach whatever meaning is truly in their heart and, as such, feel a lot more inspired by my words.


NLP Meta Model Books

If you are looking for a great book to show you how to implement Meta programs in an unbelievably effective way then these are my two personal favourites


Words That Change Minds: Mastering the Language of Influence 2nd edition

Author: Shelle Rose Charvet

In a nutshell… Focused on the WAY we communicate

NLP Keys star rating: Words That Change Minds - amazon star rating

This book focuses it’s attention specifically on META programs (the way you interpret and process information such as the words someone says to you, that then leads to the way you subsequently react and the internal representations that are formed). Please don’t be put off by MY explanation of META programs because this author writes in a much more informal and approachable style and you don’t need any prior knowledge of NLP in order to understand it perfectly and learn just how powerful purposeful communication is in life.

Get your copy of Words that Change Minds 

People Pattern Power: P3 : The Nine Keys to Business Success

Authors: Marilyne Woodsmall and Wyatt Woodsmall

In a nutshell… How to deal with others succesfully!

NLP Keys star rating: People Pattern Power - amazon star rating

Another great book to learn about Meta programs in a business context. It’s an easy-to-read book which breaks down the key lessons into 9 keys:
1. How people cope with change, 2. What are people’s primary interests, 3. How people deal with information, 4. How people evaluate things, 5. How they take decisions, 6. What motivates them, 7. What their values are, 8. How they organise their work & 9. their use of time.
It provides a great way to learn about how people motivate themselves and how they organise their thinking and their way of working. An absolute must-have for anyone who wants to be succesful in dealing with others.

Get your copy of People Pattern Power




If you can be aware of Meta and Milton Model statements and use them to your advantage then you can cut out a lot of the negativity and drama from your life, make the route to success a lot clearer and influence others with your statements.

It is such a powerful thing to know but I suggest putting it into practice NOW and for the next few days really analyse the words you hear from others and those you tell yourself.

Use Meta Model language patterns to get the truth of what’s being said and use Milton Model statements to let others fill the gaps and therefore have a much higher chance of telling them what they “want” to hear.

Start analysing your language today and use it to your benefit
Start analysing your language today and use it to your benefit

Happy Milton/Meta Modelling guys!


What should I learn when starting NLP?

Now you’re probably asking yourself some questions about how to proceed on this journey with NLP, right? Well, here are some common questions and the answers to them…


“What are the benefits of Neuro Linguistic Programming?”

Check out 5 ways NLP can help you to find out just how much NLP can improve your life!


“How do I start using Neuro-Linguistic programming in my life?”

You can START HERE and follow the advice of that page so you can start implementing NLP in your life today! I not only explain what you should learn when starting NLP but also give you some solid NLP techniques to use at home as well as the basics of NLP.


“Where can I get NLP Training and become an Internationally certified NLP Master practitioner?”

Check out The Best NLP Course Online to learn about the best online course I’ve ever done and why I’m a raving fan now!


“How can I ask you specific questions that I have?”

I would LOVE to hear from you. Please just click CONTACT and write to me about anything that’s on your mind. I’ll respond as soon as possible 🙂


“Is there any YouTube channel or website that we can learn the basics of NLP (Neuro Lingustic Programming) for free?”

Yes there certainly is! Check out my Youtube Channel: NLP KEYS. I’m constantly adding videos that deal specifically with Neuro Linguistic Programming Tips, Techniques and Reviews!

And of course you have THIS WEBSITE for you to learn all you need to know about NLP without spending a dime!




  1. Loved the way you’ve used politicians and McDonalds to explain the Milton model and the useful application of the Meta model in poking holes in exaggerated statements. Thanks so much for this great article!

    1. Thanks so much Jane! I find these language patterns fascinating and once you know how they work you can see what to look out for and how to use them to your benefit 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks again for the feedback

    1. Hi Dan! I really appreciate the comment, thank you. Hope to keep the standard up so you have more articles like this to read in the future 😉

  2. I was reading through some of your posts on this internet site and I conceive this website is very instructive! Keep posting . Martguerita Henderson Tennies

  3. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest of the website is very good. Catina Whit Sherborne

  4. Glad to see that this site works well on my iPhone , everything I want to do is functional. Thanks for keeping it up to date with the latest. Elset Gearalt Aleda

  5. Mike, a fascinating read. You appear extremely knowledgeable with regards to NLP and I intend on reading all of your articles in due course! Keep up the great work

    1. Thanks so much Rodger, your comment means a lot to me! Great to hear you are getting something out of the articles and I will keep em coming 😉

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