There is a popular saying that the map is not the territory- and this is especially true when it comes to how we perceive the world.

Our conscious processing of what’s happening around us is filtered by a number of different things, some of them conscious – others less so. And there are many situations where it’s useful to know what those filters are doing.

This could be because we want to persuade someone to do something – we want a customer to buy, or a loved one to agree to a decision. Or it could be that we want to examine our own reactions to stimulii and circumstances.

We’re going to take a look at this filtering process – how it works, and how xxxxx

The Filtering Process

When you receive information from your senses, your brain first runs the information past a committee made up of your memories, previous decisions, attitudes, core values and beliefs.

They make their evaluation of the information and then pass it one to a more powerful team of players: the distortion, deletion, and generalisation committee!

Distortion takes the information and then decides to add some important information to the emerging idea. It says, “I have heard about this before and last time I heard about it it included …”.

Deletion then comes along and cuts out information it thinks that you don’t need. For example: “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the the plain.” Most people do no see the extra “the”. Your brain says “I have seen this before and it did not have the extra “the” so I will cut it out.”

Generalisations are the big thinkers. They say “I have seen all this before, it was easy, don’t worry about the details”.

Meta programmes are the ultimate authorities on how the information is processed, sorted and considered.

When we talk to someone (for instance if we are trying to sell our product to a prospect) we are talking to his or her brain.

Everything we say goes through the process above.

The process in action

For example, you say: “This car is the finest example on the market and it’s very competitively priced”.

Their brain takes in the information and filters it as above in a fraction of a second.

Memories say: “I’ve heard that before, remember when you bought that MG and it turned out to have been a repaired right off. Maybe this is the same.”

Values come in with: “You may be right, but you know, if you’re good to people, they’ll be kind in return. This guy is probably okay”.

Distortion follows on: “Last time I listened to you guys was when we were looking for a house. The estate agent said that house was the finest example on the market and we found a better one for less”.

Deletion steps in: “We’ve bought plenty of cars before and it didn’t matter then whether it was the finest example or not. So, forget about that! What’s the price?”

Finally generalisations have their say: “At the end of the day this guy is a car salesmen and we all know that all car salesmen are dodgy!”

By the time all that processing gets back to you it should sound something like this: “Well I’m sure, to be comfortable with the purchase I think I need to go and look around a bit more.”

The interesting thing to notice is that the conscious you – the one reading this now – doesn’t have all the details as to the reasoning behind that decision.

It’s much like a student handing in answers, but without anything that shows the working out – how the answer was arrived at.

The next step is determining your filters, which you can read about here, or for more in-depth information about Understanding Reality Filters, read the publication on our Empowerment Professionals bookshelf.