2.6 Anything Else

Learning together is an important part of what this site is all about: by sharing, you’ll be helping others, as well as giving yourself an opportunity to deepen your learning with other people’s ideas and feedback.

Unfortunately, comments below are closed due to excessive spam.

I have left the discussion here for the time being because it’s so interesting – well worth reading!


  • cecily paterson says:

    I am really interested in this whole area. Thank you for providing such a great resource.

  • mark kandel says:

    You have put together a truly remarkable resource. I wish that this was available to me 30 years ago when I started my law practice.

    As I listened to Conversational Clean ( and linked to your xray listening site to read your articles there), I realized that somehow I have to soften my questions- or perhaps soften my listening. Even though I left the law practice some 17 years ago, I am still told that when I ask questions I come across as if I am cross examining the other person- when I am merely trying to get a clearer understanding of what ever issue is being dealt with. More accurately, I hear this from those who know that I am a lawyer. Though my intent is to better understand, my questioning is clearly off putting- and I am sorry to admit I don’t know what i’m asking- or perhaps “how” I’m asking it – that sets the other person on edge. Obviously the well meaning of my intent isn’t bering conveyed….

    So that long preamble leads to this question: In non-therapy/non-coaching contexts, how do the “lazy jedi” questions, and their follow up questions, avoid feeling like a “cross-examination” fto the person being questioned? A client for counselling or coaching expects and accepts the questions. But in an informal setting, what tempors the questions so they don’t feel intrusive? Is it the parrotting? Is there something else at play?

  • Judy Rees says:

    Great question, Mark! I think there are a number of adjustments that could be made to temper that “cross-examination” feeling.
    You could pay attention to any or all of what I call the 3 Dimensions of Conversational Control – self-control, context control and controlling emotions by the way you direct attention. (more on this here: http://learncleanlanguage.com/learn/3-clean-in-coaching/3-2-conversational-control/ )
    Adjusting any of these three will make a difference, and I’d suggest experimenting with different approaches to see what works best for you and the people you talk to. Developing flexibility is important, because every conversation is different.
    For example, on the self-control front, you might choose to soften your voice tone. Or you might decide that instead of “trying to get a clearer understanding”, in this conversation you will “help the other person to get a clearer understanding of their issue – if I get a clearer understanding too, that’s a bonus”.
    With context control, you might decide to introduce your questions with a scene-setter. “I’d like to understand this issue better, because … Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” Or you might say something about yourself and why the issue is relevant to you. (Have you seen Brene Brown’s fabulous TED talk about vulnerability? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o )
    And do be aware of where you’re directing the person’s attention, and what emotions that’s provoking. If you’re asking about something that’s a problem for them, you’re likely to be triggering unpleasant feelings – which won’t win you any popularity contests!
    Finally, remember that the people you are talking to are not like you! Well, they are like you, but they are not exactly the same as you. You’ve spent a working lifetime training yourself to think quickly, on your feet. Most of the people you are talking to haven’t done the same. Give them time!

  • eulice moran says:

    For starters i would like to say that this is some remarkable material. i am completely new to clean language and am not sure what questions to ask when it comes to certain metaphors. For instance, if the person were to say something like ”i feel like x when x happens.” how do i know what direction i want that metaphor to go?i dont know whether to ask what kind of x is that? or where about is is x? maybe i haven’t familiarized myself enough with clean language and im misinterpreting.

  • judy rees says:

    Hi Eulice, fair question! because the answer, as so often, is, “It depends!”

    It depends particularly on what your intention is in using the Clean Language questions.

    If your intention is to help somebody to change (as in coaching or therapy, for example) then there are specific ways the questions are used – see the section on Clean In Coaching http://learncleanlanguage.com/learn/3-clean-in-coaching/ for these.

    If your intention is to experiment and play with the Clean Language questions, then experiment and play! Even random Clean Language questions can have a surprisingly interesting effect. Do bear in mind the Power Switch video in this section, and always ask about metaphors for pleasant things when playing, otherwise it isn’t fun for anybody.

    Expert Clean Language facilitators use two questions far more than any others (between one third and two thirds of the time). These are the questions I’ve referred to as the 2 Lazy Jedi questions. Get started by using *only* these until they feel comfortable.

    In your example “I feel like x when x happens” (assuming this is a “feel good” metaphor, such as “I feel like a film star when I go to the gym”) I would probably start by asking “What kind of x?” (“What kind of film star?”)

    Don’t attempt to ask long strings of Clean Language questions as a complete beginner – start by dotting them into conversations and seeing what happens.

  • Leon Conrad says:

    This is stuff that goes deep – I came across it vicariously through a workshop with one of the worst presenters I have ever experienced who put the group he was working with that I was a part of through one of the best practical exercises I have ever been on in my life. This is part of my search to try to understand what happened in that transformative session.
    As someone who loves words and language, I react negatively whenever a simile is described as a metaphor – in my experience, they’re functionally different. In a literal ‘clean language’ context, I’d like there to be more attention to detail, but I get the gist of the argument – leading in with simile opens up the gateway to metaphor and makes it easier for people to spot hidden metaphors in language and thought.
    I have to admit I also have slight problems with the repetitive wording of questions – the ritualistic prefixing statements with ‘and’, for instance. Next step to experiment with being on the receiving end of an experience and having someone demonstrate both ways in practice before coming to a final evaluation.
    There is much power in what lies behind the particular forms, whatever I feel in terms of resistence to them.
    My quest to journey towards a deeper experience of this continues.

  • Judy Rees says:

    Hi Leon, you’re not alone in perceiving a difference between metaphor and simile – see this interesting research: http://bit.ly/JM4e3R

    Do you have someone to conduct your experiment with? Most people find there is a huge difference between the experience of being asked the Clean Language questions (particularly with a skilled facilitator) and the impression they get from asking them, or watching somebody else ask them.

  • Adrienne Isnard says:

    Once I relaxed and stopped worrying about how I would do it, I did it. I listened to a friend talk about her anxiety about starting out as a consultant and she kept coming back to why she had to do this because of a bully manager – and everything kept coming back to that person and as I started to use clean language questions the metaphors were flowing – she was wanting to stop reacting so that everything was just like water of a duck’s back, she was wanting to have titanium armour and be bullet proof.

    Whilst I dont think I was particularly adept at asking the questions, I managed to do something like….and it was interesting to watch as my friend got very intouch with what she was thinking and feeling and without me doing or saying much at all, she said she felt better, in control and knew what she wanted to do.

    We had just been having a quiet talk on a personal basis but afterwards she said she wanted to book a full session with me.

    How was I feeling – I felt calm and relaxed and I felt that in a very simple and direct way, I was able to assist my friend to access some powerful insight. I felt proud and I feel very lucky to have found such a great, easy, transformational tool. I am itching to get out and practice more.

    Cheers and thanks! Adrienne

  • Judy Rees says:

    Well done Adrienne! Keep up the good work!

  • Natalie Baum says:

    I am finding this clean language very informative. My daughter has often complained that I don’t listen . I am really working to improve this skill. I realise that when I learnt coaching I was overwhelmed with all the info I had to remember and was telling myself “I can’t do this” The metaphor CLEAN LANGUAGE has simplfied it for me. I associate CLEAN LANGUAGE with the 5 year old girl and the clear and simple way she talks. I was so busy looking for Meta-programs that I didn’t hear what was said.