HomeNeuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)Universal whatchya macallit?

Ok so by now enough internal fog has cleared since your NLP Practitioner Training that you may find yourself asking some questions about some of the terminology within the Meta Modal and Milton Modal.  (Now if you just read that and are asking Meta who Milton when? my timing is perfect)

I’ve decided that to write an article series that will systematically review each pattern in the Milton Model and the Meta Model.

I do want to emphasize (and will probably cut and paste this paragraph into each article I send you) to keep in mind that it is virtually impossible to have a conversation that deals with  without violating various patterns. Violating the patterns is not the problem.

Violating the pattern is only a problem when the violation leads to an impoverished representation of the individual’s “map”. You as a NLP practitioner need only get involved only when a) the speaker is having an unresourceful experience and b) they would like some help in changing it.

With no further delay: Universal Quantifiers…

Everyone uses universal quantifiers in pretty much every single conversation they have, anywhere with everyone, always.  Never is there a time that universal quantifiers are not included in a conversation.

So the other day I was sitting around the table with my family having a lovely family chat…It sounded a little bit like this:

Oldest son “You guys are always making fun of my music! why are you always picking on me you never pick on Erik and what he likes?”

Younger son aka: Erik “ are you kidding me they always pick on me, I can’t do anything without them picking on me”

Me (playing along): “You two are absolutely ridiculous you’re always exaggerating and making a big deal out of nothing.”

Now, if you haven’t noticed already take a moment to notice all the universal quantifiers I’ve used right from “Alright then with that said: Universal Quantifiers…”.

“Universal Quantifiers are used to express universal generalizations, and EVERY time you hear someone making a claim that encompasses ALL the possibilities, they’re probably using universal quantifiers.”

Universal Quantifiers are NEVER the truth…or at least very rarely, there is Always more detail and most certainly more possibilities beneath the surface (structure).

The best way to challenge someones universal quantifiers is quite simply to reiterate their universal quantifiers back to them in an exaggerated form.

Here’s an example of how that might sound…

“You never listen to a word I say!”

Never, ever? You mean to tell me that I’ve never listened to anything you’ve ever said, ever?”

As I read this example the exaggeration strikes me as almost too obvious.  However to the “offender”  I assure you it slips right past…and only enough for them to reframe themselves towards a more resourceful way of thinking.

I have used this technique on pretty much each of you reading this article, when you were”abusing” universal quantifiers…and you didn’t notice a thing.

With that said go ahead and noticing all the “every”  “all” and “never’s”, out there.

Once and a while when it could be helpful, just throw in a reframe here and there and see what happens.

Get curious about what works and just how easy it easy to help people get unstuck.


2 thoughts on “Universal whatchya macallit?

Tanya Costa12 years ago,

I enjoy hearing the universal quantifiers. It makes me laugh inside since I hear the exaggeration. Lately, at work I have been noticing and hearing more. In return, I’m keeping my mouth shut more than usual. Then | just throw in a word to see the reaction. Eg: This surgeon is always like this – then I say, really, always always? And then I see the pattern breaking. So now I am the peacemaker and the one with the wisdom!!!!!!!


Paul Cilia12 years ago,

Now that you (jackey) mention it, my observation of Universal Quantifiers is when unexpectedly (to me), a person who is throwing U.Q.’s about, left right & centre, suddenly stops and gets specific, changing the whole enegry of their conversation. That pop’s out at me.


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