Hello and welcome

Judy Rees 2015

I’m Judy Rees, and I specialise in helping people who are geographically scattered to communicate more successfully and effectively.

I work with communities – usually teams and their managers – to overcome the limits of technology and develop creative conversations and strong connections worldwide. That means they waste less time on confusion and conflict, and instead find practical ways co-create solutions to knotty problems.

I’m known worldwide as a practical implementer of an inquiry methodology called Clean Language, and I’m the co-author of the bestselling book on the topic, Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds.

My work with virtual teams is one of these implementations: one-on-one coaching over Skype and Zoom is another. I also teach practical Clean Language skills to Agile coaches and other business change agents.

A former journalist and media executive based in London, UK, I hold a European Media Masters degree and I’m a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).

About me

As a news journalist in the 1990s, I managing people I’d never actually met well before the internet was born – newsgathering has always been a “virtual” occupation. Later, as Executive Editor of Teletext, I had a ringside seat as the web, digital television and mobile technologies emerged. I was also an early adopter of social media, back in the days when the UK led that field.

I worked closely with pioneering technologists to find ways of delivering time-critical information services using the new platforms, and gained a Masters degree in Media Technology Administration at the height of the dotcom boom.

Ten years ago I switched careers to become a freelance facilitator, trainer and coach – one of the first to deliver her services via phone conference calls, webinars and, more recently, live video classrooms.

I’m not a software trainer. Instead, my focus is on the “soft skills” that underpin effective communication, collaboration and creativity – and in that field I’ve earned a reputation as a global thought leader.

I help to develop collaborative teams remotely, usually over video conference calls. I love it when colleagues make real connections with each other. It’s like turning the lights on so that they finally see each other!

I suppose it’s a bit like team-building – but without the travel, the hassle, or the mud 🙂

Clean Language: What’s That All About?

Clean Language builds powerful connections between people by using the power of metaphor, the atom of thought.

Did you know that you use about six metaphors a minute in ordinary conversation? They spill out in our language because they are fundamental to the way we think, at an unconscious level. The metaphors in language are a side-effect of metaphors in thought.

Metaphor connects people to what they really think and feel – and can make that easier to talk about. And when all of that’s applied in the context of a work team, it can make a very real difference.

For example, one team I worked with had four members. I asked: “When you are working at your best, you are like… what?” Their answers were:

  • Like a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower in the sunshine
  • Like a ballet dancer, elegant and precise
  • Like a lighthouse, with the light going round and round rhythmically
  • Like a train – an old-fashioned steam train like the Orient Express.

You’re probably already ahead of me here: the butterfly and the train weren’t really hitting it off! To work at her best, the butterfly needed sunshine, space to move about, colourful flowers and so on. Meanwhile the train needed rails, a timetable etc.

Hearing each others’ metaphors helped them appreciate the difficulty very easily. It wasn’t (as they had each feared) that the other was incompetent or deliberately difficult. That fact was, they were different people, who needed different things in place to work well. From there, a couple of conversations and a large dose of goodwill soon got the relationship “back on track”.

Metaphor and Clean Language have been at the heart of my work for the past ten years or so. I’ve created a number of information products applying these ideas, such as Intelligent Influence and The Mind Readers’ Guide To Metaphor, and write a weekly newsletter featuring news of minds and metaphor from around the web.

Training And Qualifications

My qualifications include:

  • Fellow of the RSA, and Fellowship Councillor
  • MA in Media Technology Administration (with Distinction) from London College of Communication (formerly London College of Printing, now part of the University of the Arts London)
  • Project Management qualification from Open University
  • NLP Master Practitioner
  • NLP Practitioner
  • Certified Clean Facilitator
  • Accredited Assessor of Certified Clean Facilitators
  • NCTJ Journalism Proficiency Certificate
  • 100 wpm shorthand!

I know some people like to trace “lineage” and thus will be wondering who I’ve trained with. My teachers have included:

  • David Grove
  • Wendy Sullivan
  • Penny Tompkins and James Lawley
  • Reg Connolly
  • Jamie Smart
  • Doug O’Brien
  • Frank Farrelly
  • Charles Faulkner
  • Judith DeLozier
  • Michael Carroll
  • John Grinder
  • James Tripp
  • … and many other wonderful people.

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