This is the last section on the Meta-Model. Deletions in NLP.

There are 3 areas that I’ll separate out for Deletions. These are Nominalisations, Unspecified verbs and Simple deletions.

For clarity, the purpose of understanding deletions is to get to the heart of another person map. We are deletions machines, it allows us to simplify and fast track through life, but this means we miss so much of what actually is going on for a person.

The first sections we can take a deep dive into is Nominalisations, I have written a post, podcast and video on this, but in the interest of keeping it all together, here’s another summary.


These are process words frozen in time. Verbs, becoming nouns.

Waynes Dyer once said you’re only even in 2 places in your life, growing or dying. Think about that for a moment. Every second we age, learn, lie, delete, grow a little, die a little. We are always in flux. Nominalisations are when we make these processes things. Things generally have an association with being statics and stuckness.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • “I have depression
  • “The marriage is failing”
  • “My anxiety is crippling”

Can you spot the Nominalisations? The bolded words. They sound like things, but can you touch, them, pick them up, or throw them? No, they are what Richard Bandler calls “Zombie Nouns.” Things that aren’t actually things at all.

So what?

Notice the implications, if a person says they have depression, then how can they not have it, Where is it, can they forget to take it to work one day? No…

therefore helping a person understand that it’s a process can begin to change all of that.

Meta-Model Challenge

  • “How do you depress yourself?”
  • “What specifically is a marriage?”
  • “What do you specifically mean by anxiety?”

Can you see the implications of these types of questions? Of course, the conversation would carry out so without added too much speculation you can hopefully appreciate the responses could allow a person to see the Nouns more as Verbs. And, things that move have flexibility and possibility.

Unspecified Verbs

An unspecified verb is a process that doesn’t explicitly define how much and to what degree something has changed.

When you hear these, its time to dig a little deeper to discover more. Questions like “How specifically?” are great at uncovering the missing information.


  • “I’ve tried hard to win the 100m”
  • “Her karaoke is getting on my nerves”
  • “My neighbour trusts me”

How specifically questions can get to the heart of the issue.

How specifically have you been tried, How specifically is her karaoke getting on your nerves and then, how specifically does your neighbour trust you?”

Simple Deletions

A deletion is this…………

Something very obvious is missing.

When you get an idea that something is missing from the picture that you are representing. Then, something probably has been deleted.

Let’s look at some more examples

  • “I love this”
  • “That woman is an Idiot”
  • “You’ll never understand”
  • “I think we’re getting there”

Meta-Model challenges

Let’s make this really simple. You are getting really curious and wanting to fill in the gaps.

“Love what?”
“What do you mean by idiot?”
“Understand what specifically?”
“Getting where exactly?”

Unspecified Referential Index

They say these are the easiest to grasp, regardless of the difficult name. The Australians say, “Spend some time with loved ones and you’ll feel more connected with people.”

Hopefully, you can spot the structure. an Unspecified Referential Index is when a phrase fails to be specific to a person or thing.

Words like: it, she, he, they, us, we, one, someone and even generalisations that refer to groups and subsets of people. African, British, Australians, Terrorists, Journalists etc.

Examples which lack the reference 

  • They say, the world is getting warmer”
  • He’s an angry little man”
  • Terrorists are now all over the world”

The challenges are quite simple, Who says……? Who’s an angry little man? Which terrorists are all over the world now?

Comparative Deletions

The NLP training I offer is better. And, the fact that I’m based in Milton Keyes means it’s easier to get to aswell.

Can you spot how a comparative deletion is structured? The essence is where there is a comparison between things to a greater or lesser extent but what it’s being compared to is not clear or specified.

Learning this is an essential part of the NLP Meta-model. Knowing this makes you more efficient!

Examples of comparative deletions

  • “You can do better than that”
  • “It’s going to be easier travelling around Milton Keynes”
  • “It’s much bigger than the others”

Meta-Model Challenges to Comparative Deletions

  • “Do better than what specifically?”
  • “It’s going to be easier than what specifically?”
  • “What others are you referring to?”

Once you begin to dive into the challenges then the really good stuff comes out. Clarity is ultimately what the meta-model is all about.

Let’s anticipate some possble responses to our meta-model challenges.

  • “Better than 1 date night per month”
  • “Well, easier than before. As of the 1st of January, the town has free to use autonomous vehicles”
  • “The boot space in the cars. The silver one was very small but this boot size is much better for us!”