I’m often asked, “What is Clean Language?” but recently another question got my mental wheels whirring. I’m asking a better Clean Language question of myself.

I’m wondering, “What does learning Clean Language do for you, as a consultant, facilitator, coach or trainer?”

Not, “What’s the benefit once you’ve learned it?” but “What does learning Clean Language do for you, as a consultant, facilitator, coach or trainer?”

My tentative answer is that it helps you develop two of the three core collaboration competencies (see Collective Genius by Linda Hill et al).

Effective leaders in creative, collaborative environments need to be able to hold attention while advocating for an idea: we’re used to noticing that.

But there are two other core competencies that (ironically) don’t get enough attention: paying attention and directing attention.

And the process of learning Clean Language builds these competencies, fast.

Even something as simple as a short conference session featuring the 2 Lazy Jedi questions can change the way you think about attention.

Suddenly you have to pay attention in a new way. You have to listen. You have to put more of your attention on the outside world, and less on your internal chatter.

You have to notice what another person actually says, just to play the game.

And when it’s time to ask one of the 2 Lazy Jedi questions, you find yourself directing attention. Where will you choose to turn the searchlight? What will be the emotional effect of choosing this word? Or that? You have to choose, and what you choose matters.

And then paying attention again. What happened when you asked that question? And what happens next? The people around you become really interesting. Curiosity grows – and keeps on growing.

  • Many thanks to @Artistic_Fruits on Twitter for the question that sparked this train of thought: “I’m trying to help model Clean Language for an A.I program. Which one of your books covers the system you teach simply?” I may post next week about some other ideas that sprang from considering why and how one might model CL for AI (based on my limited understanding of AI). Let me know if you’re interested!

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